04/22/2009 11:00PM

Star Nicholas faces eight in a tough Tiznow


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - An ill-timed quarter crack knocked Grade 1 winner Georgie Boy from the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood Park, and transformed the 7 1/2-furlong sprint from a virtual exhibition into virtual grab bag.

Nine older California-breds entered the Tiznow, including Hollywood horses-for-course Star Nicholas and Bestdressed. Along with the 2008 winner, Stella Mark, the race 7 Tiznow is one of the most attractive betting races on the entire Gold Rush card.

Star Nicholas has won 3 of 5 on Cushion Track at Hollywood, including the $77,000 On Trust Handicap during the fall meet. Trainer Pete Eurton is confident Star Nicholas will run another big race Saturday, but he recognizes the Tiznow is a tougher field.

"It looked like there were only one or two that could win the On Trust. There are a handful of horses that can actually win this," Eurton said. Star Nicholas, a gelding by Poteen, has not raced since a fourth-place finish Feb. 21 in the Grade 2 San Carlos. A two-month layoff is just right.

"He's doing well, he's training very good," Eurton said. Star Nicholas runs well fresh, and is adaptable to different pace scenarios. "He has a turn of foot, he can quicken when asked. He's not a plodder," Eurton said. Michael Baze rides Star Nicholas.

A closer, Star Nicholas must catch stablemate Italian Rules to win the Tiznow. Italian Rules ran two bang-up races for Eurton during the winter meet at Santa Anita, earning Beyer Speed Figures of 98 and 97 that rank as the top recent main-track figures in the field. The difference Saturday is distance, according to Eurton.

"At six and a half, Nicholas would have a tough time beating [Italian Rules]," Eurton said. While he is concerned that 7 1/2 furlongs might be too far for Italian Rules, Eurton said "on this track, I think a horse with speed can get the distance."

The pace situation benefits Italian Rules, who is the only Tiznow starter with enough gas to crack a 45-second half-mile. Alex Solis rides Italian Rules.

Meanwhile, trainer Jack Carava is looking forward to a big payday with Bestdressed. A gelding with 3 wins from 7 starts, Bestdressed has a win and a second from two starts since Carava claimed him for $40,000. He likes what he sees.

"This is a good horse," Carava stated, with the emphasis on good. "I don't know why his form was so [subpar] before, but he's doing good now." Bestdressed has won 5 of 29 overall; he is owned by La Canada stable and will be ridden by Joel Rosario.

The main concern for Carava is pace. "Distance-wise, I'm not worried, but will he get the pace to flatter his kick?" Carava asked.

Stella Mark is making his first start in 11 months. Big Bad Leroybrown returns to the main track and can improve. Liberian Freighter fits off his turf form. Other entrants include Nikki'sgoldensteed, A Lil Dumaani, and Raingear.