04/28/2004 11:00PM

Younger Hofmans moving East

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Grant Hofmans, the son of prominent trainer David Hofmans, is moving this summer from California to Kentucky, where he will open a public stable.

Grant Hofmans, 33, said his primary clients will be Ed and Sharon Hudon, who have purchased a farm in Lexington, Ky. The Hudons have had horses with Hofmans in recent years, including Setareh, who was third behind Gourmet Girl in the 2001 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park.

"They want to race in Kentucky," Hofmans said. "They have the farm in Lexington, and they want to retire there."

Hofmans said the Hudons will have 14 2-year-olds in Kentucky, which will be the nucleus of a stable that he hopes to build to 30 horses.

"It won't be a private job," Hofmans said. "I will still be public. I couldn't do it if I was going there with no horses. It would be very hard."

Hofmans has considered relocating to other circuits in recent years. He said the decision was clinched after a trip to Kentucky for the 2-year-olds in training sale at Keeneland last month. He and his family are building a home in Prospect, Ky.

"I went back to the sale, and that's when I decided where I wanted to live," he said. "I have an opportunity with the Hudons."

Hofmans has 11 horses in training at Santa Anita. Some will travel to Kentucky, while others could be sent to other trainers in Southern California.

Hofmans has worked with his father since leaving high school. In recent years, he has trained his own stable and occasionally worked as an assistant to his father, who scored a major upset victory last October with Adoration in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. Grant was an assistant to his father in 1997, when Touch Gold won the Belmont Stakes.

Grant Hofmans had his first winner in 1995, shortly after he started training. Setareh and Salsa Dancer, the winner of the 1996 Bel's Starlet Stakes at Hollywood Park, are the top horses he has trained.

Valenzuela already near the lead

Despite missing the first four days of the meeting, Patrick Valenzuela may top the jockeys' standings by the weekend.

Valenzuela rode two winners on Sunday, the first day he rode after returning from a suspension, and had another two wins on Wednesday.

Through Wednesday, Corey Nakatani led all riders with seven wins, but he is out of town through Saturday for the Kentucky Derby. Mick Ruis and Alex Solis had five wins, while Victor Espinoza, Kent Desormeaux, and Valenzuela had four. Of those riders, only Ruis and Valenzuela are riding at Hollywood Park on Saturday.

Last year, Valenzuela won riding titles at the five major race meetings in Southern California, a streak that ended at Santa Anita earlier this year. He is riding while appealing a steward's decision to revoke his conditional license for failing to submit to a mandatory drug test. A hearing is set for May 18.

Valenzuela's two winners Wednesday came aboard Laura's Lucky Boy ($4) in the second race and Fabulous West ($35.60) in the fifth. Fernando Valenzuela, Patrick Valenzuela's cousin, teamed with trainer Craig Robertson for two winners on Wednesday - Hot Contest ($27.80) in the first race and Shes a Freebie ($27.60) in the third.

Balestrini bad-trip fourth at 1-2

Valenzuela's victory in the fifth race came against Balestrini, who finished fourth as the 1-2 favorite. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Balestrini was making his U.S. debut. Last year in Europe, Balestrini started in three Group 1 races, including a fifth in the English Derby.

On Wednesday, Balestrini was squeezed at the start and rallied from last to finish 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

"He gave up two lengths at the start. He got pinched," Drysdale said. "He made up a lot of ground."

Drysdale said that Balestrini will make his next start in an allowance race.

Team Valor buys German filly

La Ina, the winner of a stakes in Germany on April 12, has been purchased by the Team Valor partnership with the intent of starting her in the $750,000 American Oaks on July 3. La Ina will make her next start in the German 1000 Guineas on May 9.

The American Oaks is an invitational race run over 1 1/4 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies. Inaugurated in 2002, the American Oaks will have Grade 1 status for the first time this year. Invitations will be issued in late June.

* Nobody hit the pick six Wednesday, which resulted in a carryover of $96,323 for Thursday. One ticket with five winners was worth $41,281. The consolation payoff was well shy of the record consolation payoff of $280,261, set in June 1986.