06/18/2009 11:00PM

Similar pair tangle in Affirmed


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - There are striking similarities between Grazen and Misremembered, who are making their stakes debuts in Saturday's $100,000 Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Just days apart, they won maiden races in April and allowance races over 1 1/16 miles in May. Both race near the lead, were favored in their last starts, and come from prominent stables.

What will separate them is which one better makes the transition to stakes company. They are helped by the absence of a standout among the six 3-year-olds entered in the Grade 3 Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles.

Grazen, who will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, won an allowance race against older horses on May 23, which is certain to impress bettors. He was allowed to set a slow pace, and finished well in his first start around two turns.

"What a perfect race to get under his belt the other day," trainer Mike Mitchell said. "It was a nice easy race on him. If he really had to run his guts out, he could bounce or whatever."

Mitchell insists that Grazen is not committed to leading.

"I know it looks like he might be a speed horse, but I think Rafael can do whatever he wants," Mitchell said. "I don't think he would take him back or anything. When you're riding a rider like Bejarano, you don't have a lot of instructions."

Misremembered, who drew the rail, beat 3-year-olds by 3 1/2 lengths in an allowance race on May 24. Trainer Bob Baffert realizes that Misremembered must show improvement on Saturday.

"He's going to have to step it up," Baffert said. "I think he's getting better with starts. He's got a way to go before he caches up with the other [3-year-olds]. He's been training well. I think the further the better."

The only stakes winner in the Affirmed field is Scorewithcater, who won the Borderland Derby at Sunland Park in February, beating eventual Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird by a neck. Scorewithcater lost his next two starts, including a fifth in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 9.

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