05/07/2008 11:00PM

Shamdinan runs to lift confidence

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Shamdinan, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf last fall, was one of the eight nominees for Saturday's $250,000 Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park. But instead of running him in that Grade 2 race over 1 1/2 miles on turf, trainer Doug O'Neill has opted for a $70,000 allowance race over a mile on turf later on Saturday's program.

O'Neill hopes to give Shamdinan a confidence boost after disappointing ninth- and seven-place finishes in graded stakes at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita earlier this year.

Shamdinan may not be facing the graded stakes winners Champs Elysees and On the Acorn on Saturday, but he must beat two promising 4-year-olds - Ron Bob and Dave and Tybalt.

"I think it's needed," O'Neill said of the drop in class. "The mile and a half is a tad too far. He's facing the least-experience field that he's ever faced, horses that haven't reached his height yet."

Ron Bob and Dave is making his first start around two turns. Trained by Ron Ellis for Gary and Wendy Broad, Ron Bob and Dave has won his last two starts - a maiden race and an allowance race on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in February and April.

"He's sprinting like he wants to go longer," Ellis said. "He can carry his speed. He's gotten better with each race. I want to see if he can go long or not."

Tybalt is making his U.S. debut. Formerly trained in England by John Gosden, Tybalt has won 2 of 7 starts, including a 17-runner handicap over a mile at Newmarket last July. Owned by Stonerside Stable and trained by Bobby Frankel, Tybalt has not raced since July. By Storm Cat out of the multiple stakes winner Tuzla, Tybalt was given a break after arriving in this country, according to Frankel's assistant, Humberto Ascanio.

"Bobby said, 'Let's freshen him up,'" Ascanio said. "He's good now. He looks really nice in the mornings."

Valenzuela pleads guilty to DUI charge

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has not ridden since December, pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence earlier this week and was sentenced to three years probation and fined $1,595.

Valenzuela, 45, appeared in San Bernardino County Superior Court at a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday. The DUI charge stemmed from an incident in Upland, Calif., last December.

The winner of seven Breeders' Cup races and the 1989 Kentucky Derby aboard Sunday Silence, Valenzuela has not ridden since Dec. 26. His conditional jockey's license was revoked by the California Horse Racing Board in late December.

Valenzuela pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in February, but did not appear at a pre-trial hearing in March, resulting in a warrant being issued for his arrest. He appeared in court in mid-April, at which time the warrant was dismissed and a pre-trial hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday.

While on probation, Valenzuela must complete a four-month alcohol offender program and pay his fine.

Valenzuela did not return a phone call placed to his Southern California home on Thursday.

Big plans for Tropic Storm

Tropic Storm is bound for the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap Handicap on June 7 after winning an optional claimer over 7 1/2 furlongs on Wednesday. Trainer Craig Dollase hopes to get Tropic Storm to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 25.

"That would be a long-term goal, but I don't want to get ahead of myself," he said. "I'm usually pretty conservative."

In Wednesday's race, Tropic Storm was timed in 1:27.10, winning by a length over All Man. The winning time was .32 seconds slower than the track record set by Greg's Gold last December.

"He was running the whole way and the time was good," Dollase said. "I couldn't have asked for a better run."

Tropic Storm stalked Declan's Moon through quick fractions of 22.57 and 44.65 seconds before taking the lead. Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004, faded to finish fifth in the field of six.

Ellis, who trains Declan's Moon, said, "Those were scorching fractions, going 7 1/2." He said that Declan's Moon will be pointed to another allowance race.

"That's a nice horse that won," Ellis said of Tropic Storm. "He's on the way up."

• El Roblar, the winner of the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap last Saturday, will enter his first Grade 1 race in the $350,000 Shoemaker Mile here on May 26.