06/26/2010 11:00PM

Scenic Blast begins comeback


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In his final four starts of 2009, Scenic Blast raced in Group 1 races in three countries with an average purse of $1,175,625.

No such prize money is available when Scenic Blast makes his U.S. debut in Sunday's $60,000 Robert Kerlan Handicap at Hollywood Park. The race serves as a comeback for a 6-year-old gelding, who joined trainer John Shirreffs's stable last winter and could be on to bigger things in coming months.

The Kerlan Handicap, run over six furlongs on turf, will be Scenic Blast's first start since he finished last of 14 in the $1.5 million Hong Kong Sprint last December. Scenic Blast bled in that race. Because of repeated incidents of bleeding from the lungs, Scenic Blast was briefly banned from racing in his native Australia, where he won two Group 1 sprints last year.

Shirreffs said the bleeding incidents are not a concern. Scenic Blast will run on the anti-bleeding medication Lasix for the first time Sunday. The medication is not permitted in the countries where Scenic Blast had previously raced.

Owned by the Aussie Raider partnership, Scenic Blast is more than just an Australian star. He enhanced his credentials with a victory in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June 2009. In his final three starts of 2009, Scenic Blast finished 10th, 16th, and 14th.

Shirreffs said the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in November is a long-term goal. Sunday, Scenic Blast will be ridden by Mike Smith and is expected to make his customary late run.

"He has to step it up, which he has done in the past," Shirreffs said.

Scenic Blast is part of a field of seven, which includes four other stakes winners: Kelly Leak, Noble Court, Stoneside, and Unzip Me. Kelly Leak, the winner of the 2009 Sunland Park Derby, races as a gelding for the first time.

Unzip Me is the lone female in the field and is seeking her sixth consecutive win, and fourth straight in a stakes. A sprint specialist, Unzip Me is expected to set the pace.

"It's either run against males or run long, and I'd rather keep her short," trainer Marty Jones said. "Everyone knows her style. If they leave her alone, she has a chance to hang around. It will be tougher against boys."