04/21/2010 11:00PM

Two in need of serious rebound efforts


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Battle-tested at the 2009 Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, Liberian Freighter and Rush With Thunder start in Saturday's $150,000 Tiznow Stakes at Hollywood Park with their reputations slightly dented.

Liberian Freighter is the defending champion in the Tiznow Stakes, which is run over 7 1/2 furlongs for statebreds, but has lost his last three starts. Rush With Thunder, second in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap here last July, was last of eight in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap at Santa Anita earlier this month, his only start of the year.

Their respective trainers, Neil Drysdale and A.C. Avila, shrugged off the recent losses earlier this week, and expect much brighter performances in the Tiznow, which drew a field of eight.

Liberian Freighter, a winner of 6 of 18 starts and $416,130, has started twice this year, finishing fourth in an allowance race on the hillside turf course and fifth in the Crystal Water Handicap for statebreds on Feb. 28. The Crystal Water was a productive race. The race's winner, Compari, returned to win the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap earlier this month, while runner-up Enriched won an optional claimer in March.

"He didn't enjoy going down the hill for some reason," Drysdale said.

Liberian Freighter, 5, is trained at Hollywood Park. In the 2009 Tiznow, Liberian Freighter was near the front throughout and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Star Nicholas and Bestdressed, both of whom are part of Saturday's Tiznow. "He likes this track," Drysdale said of Liberian Freighter.

Rush With Thunder returned from a layoff of nearly nine months in the Potrero Grande and ran about as Avila expected. In the days before the race, Avila predicted a loss for Rush With Thunder. He is more optimistic about the 6-year-old gelding's chances in the Tiznow.

"He needed the race," Avila said. "He's 100 percent now."

Several runners are capable of an upset.

The Avila-trained Fantasy Free was second against open company in a six-furlong optional claimer at Santa Anita on March 28.

Star Nicholas won the Windy Sands Handicap at Del Mar last September, but has lost his last five starts. He was a fast-closing second in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on March 17. Mobilized, fourth in that field, is entered in the Tiznow.

Bestdressed is proven over this distance, having won the On Trust Handicap for statebreds here in November. Bestdressed was winless in three starts at Santa Anita, including a fourth in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap over seven furlongs on Feb. 20. In recent weeks, Bestdressed has worked quickly at Santa Anita, including six furlongs in 1:12 last Saturday.

Earnednevergiven and One Track Mind each won his last start. Earnednevergiven is seeking his fourth consecutive win over the last 20 months. He won an optional claimer at Santa Anita on April 11. One Track Mind won an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on March 13.