05/07/2007 11:00PM

West Coast Derby quartet home safe, sound


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Although Saturday was not a banner day for any of the four California-based 3-year-olds that ran in the Kentucky Derby, two - Tiago (seventh) and Great Hunter (13th) - might rejoin the Triple Crown trail for the Belmont Stakes on June 9.

The California contingent, which also included Liquidity (14th) and Stormello (19th), returned Monday to its home base at Hollywood Park, and early indications are all four came out of the Derby in good shape.

"So far, so good," trainer John Shirreffs said about the condition of Tiago, the Santa Anita Derby winner. Making only his fifth start in the Kentucky Derby, Tiago was compromised when Zanjero shut him off on the far turn, Shirreffs said.

"All in all, it was a good effort," Shirreffs added. "He just didn't have great racing luck."

Shirreffs will consult with owner Jerry Moss before deciding whether Tiago will go in the Belmont, or point for the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes on July 14 at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Doug O'Neill said Great Hunter and Liquidity "both came out of it in great shape."

It was the first Derby for O'Neill, and he and owner J. Paul Reddam will benefit from the experience.

"Paul is always saying, 'What did we learn from this?' " O'Neill said, and cited two examples.

"I should have schooled them more; they both came kind of unglued in the paddock," he said.

Great Hunter and Liquidity would have benefited by being schooled on Oaks Day Friday, when there was more paddock activity, O'Neill has decided. "We schooled them early in the week, and in the morning, when there was no one around," he said.

Second, O'Neill recognized that the first five Derby finishers all had their final workout at Churchill Downs. Great Hunter and Liquidity had their final workout at Keeneland, something O'Neill would do differently next time. He said the Derby ordeal was both fun, and frustrating.

"As great an experience as it was, we were there to win, not drink mint juleps," he said.

O'Neill said Great Hunter will make his next start in the Belmont. Liquidity will travel to Thistledown and run June 2 in the Grade 2, $300,000 Ohio Derby.

As for San Felipe Stakes winner Cobalt Blue, who was withdrawn from Derby consideration early last week, O'Neill said the $75,000 Alydar Stakes on May 26 at Hollywood was an option, pending consultation with owner Merv Griffin.

California-based Stormello gave owner-trainer Bill Currin a scare when jockey Kent Desormeaux eased him through the stretch of the Derby. Stormello made contact with Teuflesberg, then Circular Quay, after which Currin said Desormeaux took hold.

"Kent was concerned that he might have been hurt, and he did the right thing protecting the horse," Currin said, though he admitted concern when he saw Stormello being eased. "The distance may or may not have been too far in the first place. For now, I'll go on the assumption he'll be a mile champion."

Currin said Stormello would not run in either of the next Triple Crown races, and that his campaign ultimately would lead to Monmouth Park for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Oct. 26, or $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 27. "He's done a lot of traveling the past month; I'm happy to be home with him," Currin said.

Bordonaro to miss L.A. Handicap

A bruised foot will keep 122-pound top weight Bordonaro out of the Grade 3, six-furlong Los Angeles Handicap on Saturday at Hollywood Park. Bordonaro could return to the track later this week, trainer Bill Spawr said Tuesday, but he will miss the Los Angeles. "We are so disappointed," Spawr said. "We wanted to run him at home and see how he would run on [Cushion Track]."

Bordonaro has won 10 races and $879,794 from 15 starts for owners Fred Carrillo and Dan Cassella, including the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 13 at Oaklawn Park.

"Now we're looking at Plan B," Spawr said, referring to the Grade 2, $200,000 True North Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, June 9, at Belmont Park.

Hi Lily Hi Lo looks good Thursday

The 2-year-olds are in full swing at Hollywood. Bettors looking for a standout on Thursday might settle on Hi Lily Hi Lo in race 3. A daughter of Swiss Yodeler owned by Heinz Steinmann and trained by Mike Harrington, Hi Lily Hi Lo should be favored when she makes her second start in the 4 1/2-furlong race for California-bred fillies.

Hi Lily Hi Lo finished third with an eventful trip in her April 28 debut.

"She broke tardy, made a big move and ran a little green," Harrington said.

He expects better racing luck Thursday. Hi Lily Hi Lo worked three furlongs from the gate May 6, and her 35-second work was the fastest of the day at the distance.

Harrington said he has "a dozen or so" 2-year-olds to start in coming weeks. He won with two juveniles last week. Swiss Ace won his debut May 2 with a 70 Beyer and will run May 27 in the $75,000 Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes. Red Hot Flame won his debut on May 4 with a 66 Beyer Speed Figure. Harrington, who also owns Red Hot Flame, said the son of Malek might not run again until the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 4.

My Man Murf bred for turf

My Man Murf will be racing on turf for the first time in race 6 Thursday, but as trainer Rafael Becerra said, "he's got the pedigree to go on it." Does he ever. My Man Murf was sired by the good turf sire Anziyan and produced by a French-bred mare who won 3 of 19 starts on grass. Claimed from his debut Feb. 9, My Man Murf has won two straight starts for Becerra by rallying along the inside.

"Turf should be no problem," Becerra said. "He's training super."

A field of seven Cal-breds will run in the one-mile, first-level allowance, including contenders Teeman, Downtown Sanger, and Yodelen Dan.

* It's speed vs. speed Friday night in the $60,000 Tuzla Handicap. Front-runners Udriga and Stylish Wildcat each seek their third straight win in the six-furlong turf race for fillies and mares. A field of six entered the Tuzla, race 7 on the eight-race card.