06/24/2010 11:00PM

The Usual Q.T. home for a start


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Three months after a fourth-place finish in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free Stakes in the Middle East, The Usual Q.T. starts the second half of his 2010 campaign in a $55,000 allowance race over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

The Usual Q.T. will be after his first win since the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes last December. Trainer Jim Cassidy hopes that Sunday's race will lead to a start in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar on July 24.

Cassidy expects The Usual Q.T. to show the form that led to six consecutive wins, including four stakes, from last August to December. "I'll be very disappointed if he isn't," Cassidy said. "He acts very good right now. That's all I can hope for."

Owned by a partnership led by Don Van, The Usual Q.T. has won 6 of 13 starts and $770,420. Cassidy said he thought the 4-year-old gelding had fully rebounded from the Dubai trip when he worked six furlongs in 1:11.20 on June 14 at Santa Anita, the fastest of eight works at the distance.

"He worked really fast and he did it very well," Cassidy said. "You always concern yourself with breaks like this and all the traveling. I think he's a professional boy and he'll perform as such."

The Usual Q.T. is part of a field of five that includes Aggie Engineer, Dakota Phone, Marlang, and Tiz West.

Marlang will be making his California debut, having won 4 of 13 starts and $497,112 in Canada and New York for owner Gustav Schickedanz. Now trained by Neil Drysdale, Marlang won the Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine last August. He has not started since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes there last September.

O'Neill facing ban

Hollywood Park stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward have recommended to the California Horse Racing Board that current leading trainer Doug O'Neill serve a 15-day suspension issued by the Illinois Racing Board earlier this year.

O'Neill was suspended and fined $1,000 after Stephen's Got Hope tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide after finishing seventh in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne on April 3.

O'Neill paid the fine earlier this spring but was granted a stay from the California racing board by board chairman Keith Brackpool on April 29, allowing the trainer to protest that the suspension should not be served in California. Typically, a suspension in one state is honored in other states, but O'Neill, through his attorney, Steve Schwartz, argued against that in hearings before the stewards on May 23 and 30.

In the hearings, Schwartz argued that California has different rules for total carbon dioxide testing than Illinois and that other states had not honored the Illinois ruling's suspension.

In their six-page decision, the Hollywood Park stewards disputed those arguments and recommended that racing board officials assign dates for O'Neill's 15-day suspension. O'Neill said on Friday that he plans to continue legal action. "We're 100 percent appealing it," he said.

Acclamation may head east

Acclamation, who has dominated the turf marathon division at the current Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, may make his next start in the $750,000 United Nations Stakes over 1 3/8 miles on turf at Monmouth Park next Saturday, trainer Don Warren said.

But Warren cautioned that a decision would not likely be finalized until Monday, the day that the 4-year-old is scheduled to be flown to New Jersey. "We don't decide anything until the last minute," he said.

Owned by Bud and Judy Johnston, Acclamation won the Grade 2 Jim Murray Handicap over 1 1/2 miles of turf on May 15 and the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles of turf on June 5, the first two stakes wins of his career.

The Grade 1 United Nations would be Acclamation's first start outside of California.

"It's a tough race, but the conditions are right," Warren said. "What appeals to me is that it's on the turf at 1 3/8 miles."

Thursday, Acclamation worked a mile on turf at Hollywood Park in 1:39.

Warren said a start in the $150,000 Sunset Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on July 18, and even the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on the main track on July 10 have been discussed.

"The Sunset is not as much money" as Monmouth, Warren said. "He could run in the Hollywood Gold Cup, but that's synthetic."

Shifts in racing schedule

Hollywood Park will not conduct live racing on Wednesday and will begin a five-day schedule of live racing with an evening program on Thursday. There will also be an evening program on Friday, and afternoon races Saturday through Monday.

There will be simulcasting ontrack on Wednesday.

The top race of the week is Saturday's $250,000 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies. Cozi Rosie, the winner of the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes over a mile in April and the runner-up, by a head to Evening Jewel in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap on May 31, will go favored.