05/12/2010 11:00PM

Scintillo facing four from San Juan


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - With division leader Bourbon Bay, a three-time stakes winner at Santa Anita earlier this year, getting a deserved springtime break, Saturday's $150,000 Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park is a wide-open race.

For bettors, that is where things get a little messy. The Grade 2 Murray, run over 1 1/2 miles on turf, has drawn a field of 11.

The Murray has drawn the second- through fifth-place finishers behind Bourbon Bay in the April 18 San Juan Capistrano Handicap - Unusual Suspect, Skellytown, Falcon Rock, and Romp. Also in the field are the European group stakes winner Scintillo; Rendezvous, second in the Tokyo City Handicap in March; and even the 3-year-old Alphie's Bet, who is already a stakes winner at this meeting, albeit against statebreds on the synthetic main track.

Scintillo, who drew the rail, is the 118-pound topweight and is making his first start since finishing 11th at 114-1 in the $5.4 million Japan Cup last November. Trained last year by Richard Hannon, Scintillo's biggest win came in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly over about 1 1/2 miles on turf in France last May. He was not a factor in his final four starts of the year.

"He looks like a true stayer and he might even like a mile and a quarter," trainer Neil Drysdale said. "We haven't drilled him. He's a got a long year ahead of him. He's a solid Group 2 horse."

If Scintillo is not at his best, the runners from the 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano can move to the fore. Unusual Suspect finished a half-length behind Bourbon Bay, running best in the final furlong and finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Skellytown.

Skellytown led by a length at the eighth pole of the San Juan and may have reached the front too soon, trainer Mike Mitchell said.

"I actually think he can get a mile and three-quarters," Mitchell said. "The horse in front of him quit and he started clowning around. We'll see how it sets up, but we'll time it better."

Skellytown and other horses who ran in the San Juan Capistrano should benefit from a four-week break between that race and the Murray. The Murray, not run in 2009, was once just three weeks after the San Juan, which often forced owners and trainers to choose between the two races. "If you run in the San Juan, you need a little time to get over that," Mitchell said.

Regardless of how he runs in the Murray, Skellytown has turned out to be a shrewd claim for $25,000 on April 1.

"I didn't know if he fits with this class," Mitchell said. "It seemed he could run all day. Now it's a matter of waiting, and not making a move too early."

Bejarano looking for more

Jockey Rafael Bejarano scored a five-win day on Wednesday and was a little miffed that he did not have six victories. After winning the eighth and last race on Sweet Hanni, who emerged through traffic in the stretch to win a six-furlong turf race for $50,000 claimers by a half-length, Bejarano was still thinking about the seventh race when his late rally on Red Eye Express fell a head short of catching Red Door Drive.

"I wish I could have moved a bit sooner," he said.

Bejarano won Wednesday's second race on Super Sophie ($3.20), the fourth on Gotham Devil ($8.80), the fifth on Camp Victory ($7.40), the sixth on Candy Lion ($4), and aboard Sweet Hanni ($4.40).

Through Wednesday, Bejarano, 28, leads the jockey standings with 24 wins, four more than Tyler Baze, who had entered Wednesday's card with a one-race lead. Since returning from Churchill Downs on May 1, Bejarano has won with 19 of 44 mounts and has won at least two races on seven consecutive days of racing.

"With him, you always have a chance," said Vladimir Cerin, who trains Sweet Hanni, while leaving the winner's circle. "He thinks he'll win every race and today he almost did."