Lemon Chiffon, a lightly-raced 6-year-old mare, hopes to spring an upset in the $250,000-added Gamely Stakes, a Grade I test for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the Hollywood Park turf Saturday.
“We’ve had this race in the back of our minds for a couple of weeks,” said trainer Sean McCarthy Thursday from his Santa Anita training base after supplementing Lemon Chiffon to the Gamely for $5,000.
McCarthy hopes lightning strikes twice in a week on the Hollywood Park grass. The mare will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who Monday won the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on longshot supplementary entry Thorn Song.
Lemon Chiffon, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Lemon Drop Kid, has won four of 10 career starts and finished third in the Grade II Distaff Turf Mile in her last outing at Churchill Downs on May 2.
“She was only beaten a length and a quarter and was third in the Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita last fall too,” said McCarthy. “She’s a pretty nice mare and she’s been doing well. She was nominated to a few races back east but we decided to keep her in her own back yard.”
McCarthy, 46, has been training on his own since 1996 and seeks the biggest win of his career. “I’ve had her since the start,” said McCarthy of the mare who did not start until she was four because of “minor issues.”
Lemon Chiffon, bred by Marguerite Clifford, began her career for the breeder and her husband, Jack, but was sold privately to Ron Beegle of Arcadia last December.
Lemon Chiffon drew the outside post in a field of 11. “I think we’ve got plenty of time to get into position from there,” said McCarthy.
Visit, who finished fifth as the favorite behind Lemon Chiffon in the Kentucky race, will seek redemption as one of two Gamely entrants trained by Bobby Frankel.
Frankel, who has won the Gamely a record eight times, seeks to win the race for the third straight year with Toque de Queda, who breaks from post three with Victor Espinoza, and Visit, who leaves from six with Brice Blanc.
Visit was a fast-closing third in the Grade I Matriarch last year in her only previous start on the turf here and was shipped west from New York last week. Frankel won the race with Precious Kitten last year and Citronnade in 2007.
GALLAGHER SEEKS THIRD HONEYMOON VICTORY
Trainer Paddy Gallagher hopes history repeats when he sends out Lexlenos in the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap, a Grade II test for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf Sunday.
Gallagher won the race with Irish-bred imports Three Degrees in 2005 and Valbenny in 2007. Lexlenos, also an Irish-bred, finished sixth in her United States debut in the Senorita Stakes May 3. The chestnut recorded two firsts and two seconds in four starts on synthetic surfaces in England before being purchased privately.
“She just broke slowly in her first start and Alex thinks she has been training better since then,” said Gallagher of the opinion of jockey Alex Solis. The colt is owned by Solis’s son, Alex II, and Joseph Scardino.
The Honeymoon serves as a major prep for the $700,000 American Oaks on July 5.
ARTISTE ROYAL MAKES CASE FOR WHITTINGHAM DEFENSE
Artiste Royal worked six furlongs in 1:16.80 on turf Thursday for the $300,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap on June 6. The 8-year-old ridgling won the Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on turf last year.
“I was very pleased with his work,” said trainer Neil Drysdale after the move under exercise rider Debra Biggs in company with Marsh Side.
Artiste Royal rallied to win the race by a neck last year in a three-way photo with Monzante and Lava Man. The Irish-bred son of Danehill, seeking millionaire status, has won seven of 30 starts and earned $895,790.
Artiste Royal seeks to become the first horse to win the race more than once since John Henry won it for the third time as a 9-year-old in 1984, when it was called the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap. Joel Rosario has the call.
The race was renamed the Whittingham in 1999 for the legendary trainer who won it a record seven times. Drysdale, a former Whittingham assistant, has won the race six times.
Union Avenue, another Whittingham candidate, worked six furlongs on grass for the Jerry Hollendorfer stable in a bullet 1:15.20 under exercise rider Angel Rangel. Rafael Bejarano will ride the rejuvenated 6-year-old horse in the Whittingham.
FINISH LINES — Tuscan Evening worked four furlongs in 48 seconds on turf for the Jerry Hollendorfer stable. The 4-year-old Irish-bred filly drew the rail for the Gamely Stakes Saturday but is also under consideration for the Redondo Beach Stakes at one mile on turf June 6…Pretty Unusual worked six furlongs on Cushion Track in a bullet 1:12.60 for trainer Barry Abrams for the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks on June 7…Thorn Song was flown back to the Churchill Downs stable of trainer Dale Romans after winning the Shoemaker Mile Monday. Owner Ahmed Zayat has won the last two Grade I stakes at this track. He also accounted for the CashCall Futurity in December with Pioneerof the Nile… Ron Anderson, jockey agent for national earnings leader Garrett Gomez, was on the grounds Thursday, paving the way for Go-Go’s return to California for the remainder of the year. “He will ride in New York through the Belmont Stakes and start riding here June 7,” said Anderson, mulling options for the Hollywood Oaks that day. “He wants to come home for the summer because the kids are here and he misses them. His 7-year-old son is playing baseball and his girl is riding horses.”
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