Phil D’Amato, who stepped in admirably in the wake of Mike Mitchell’s surgery, said Sunday the trainer is getting stronger and stronger every day.
Mitchell underwent a successful procedure to remove a brain tumor June 29th at USC Medical Center.
“Mike was here Friday and Saturday,” said the 35-year-old the assistant trainer. “He watched all our workers Saturday and he was already like the Mike of old. We went over all the horses, checked legs and talked strategy. He was giving advice for every horse. He’s doing really, really well.
“He came back here first before he and (wife) Denise drove over to the front side to watch the horses breeze. I think he’s coming back (Monday). Slowly, but surely he will build up his strength.’’
FIELDS FOR AMERICAN OAKS, A GLEAM HANDICAP FIRMING UP
A field of nine or 10 three-year-old fillies are likely to start in the Grade I American Oaks – Presented by American Airlines – Saturday.
The 11th renewal of the Oaks, which is for 3-year-old fillies at 1 ¼ miles on turf and offers a $350,000 purse, is one of five stakes to be run closing weekend of the Spring/Summer meet at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Trainer Michael Matz confirmed Sunday that Shaka Glen Stable, W.S. Farish and ENL Stable’s Colonial Flag will ship Wednesday for the 1 1-4 mile turf test and will be stabled with trainer Gary Mandella. The Pleasant Tap filly was second in the Grade III Regret June 16 at Churchill Downs. Regular rider Julien Leparoux will be aboard. Matz, best known as the trainer of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro and Union Rags, who won the Belmont Stakes June 9, will be here for the American Oaks.
A pair of European imports, Three Chimneys Racing’s Miss Cato (Garrett Gomez), who has won four of seven for trainer Rae Guest, and Prince A.A. Faisal’s Nayarra (Corey Nakatani), participant in a pair of Group I’s in England for Mick Channon, spice up the cast.
Other probable starters are Norine and Dennis Grenier’s Best Present Ever (no rider), winner of the Campanille Stakes June 2 at Golden Gate Fields, Hronis Racing’s Lady of Shamrock (Mike Smith), who missed by a nose in the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap June 9, Conner or DeBruycker or Jacobsen’s My Gi Gi,(no rider), the winner of the Honeymoon. Frank L. Gaunt’s Stormy Lucy, a close third in the Honeymoon, Glen Hill Farms’ Left a Message (no rider), fourth in the Regret, and Steven W. Ciccarone’s Regalo Mia (Rafael Bejarano), runner-up in the Grade II Sands Point May 28 at Belmont Park.
Trainer Al Stall, Jr. is still on the fence concerning Spendthrift Farms’s Treasured Up, who finished a half-length behind Colonial Flag when third in the Regret.
There are eight probables for the $200,000, Grade II A Gleam Handicap for fillies and mares at seven furlongs over Cushion Track. The A Gleam is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race. The Breeders’ Cup nominated winner of the A Gleam will earn an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Jockeys Chantal Sutherland and Rafael Bejarano, who finished 1-2 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert aboard Game On Dude and Richard’s Kid, respectively, in Saturday’s Hollywood Gold Cup, will be at it again with another pair of Baffert runners.
Sutherland will ride Thoroughbred Racing Legend Stable’s Glamorista, who has won three of five starts, including two of three over Cushion Track, while Bejarano will ride Kaleem Shah’s American Lady, winner of the Reminiscing Stakes in her most recent appearance June 1.
Joining those two in the gate will be Ramona Bass, Claiborne Farms and Dilschneider’s Rumor, C R K Stable’s Switch, Warren B. Williamson’s Mildly Offensive, Stephen B. Weissman’s Sugarinthemorning, Ted and Judy Nichols’ Teddy’s Promise and George or Mary Clare Schmitt’s Izzy Rules.
LOCAL CLAIM ACTIVITY FAST AND FURIOUS
Horsemen have kept Sue Winter hopping the last four days.
As Paymaster of Purses for Betfair Hollywood Park, Winter is responsible for collecting funds and issuing claim slips. The slips are dropped in a claim box located in the adjoining Stewards’ office no later than 15 minutes prior to the race.
There have been 64 claims put in for 17 runners since July 4th. If there is more than one claim for a horse, a random draw is held immediately after the race, next to the winner’s circle.
The flurry started in Wednesday’s fourth race, when there was a 7-way shake for second place finisher Man Chester Man, and an 11-way for Capture the Call, who trailed. Man Chester Man went to Billy Morey for $10,000, while Capture the Call moved to Bob Hess for the same price.
Later in the day, there was a 7-way shake for winner Valley Cat. Robertino Diodoro won the draw and got the gelding for $25,000.
The next day, Attack the Jack scored her third victory this meeting and was red-tagged for $20,000 by Jeff Mullins in a 9-way scramble.
There were nine claims for Risky Art, who finished second in Friday night’s first race, a $32,000 claimer for fillies and mares on turf. Rafael Becerra won that shake.
On Saturday, Classic Bobby was involved in a 5-way raffle in a $25,000 claimer and moved to the Peter Miller barn.
Other claims were Roman Charity (Keith Craigmyle, $8,000); Filly Power (Mark Glatt, $8,000); Queen Mercury (Mike Puype, $20,000); Full’s Figurehead (Paul Aguirre, $20,000); St. Sincere (Marty Jones, $40,000); Drift King (Mike Mitchell, $25,000); Magic Castle (Gus Headley, $20,000); Last Sting (Melody Conlon, $40,000); Pardon My Excess (Dan Hendricks, $25,000); Aragorn Sword (Dan Hendricks, $16,000) and A Moment in Time (Melody Conlon, $16,000)
CLOSING STRIDES— Game On Dude and Richard’s Kid both came back well from their efforts in the Gold Cup, according to Bob Baffert’s assistant trainer Mike Marlow. “It wasn’t a good day, it was a great day,” said Marlow…..Trainer Ben Cecil relayed Royal Heroine Mile winner Quiet Oasis returned with no problems. Second-place finisher Mega Dream also returned well, according to trainer Jeff Bonde ……… Phil D’Amato said Round Table Stakes winner Dhaamer is looking “great” and doing “really well” in preparation for the Grade III, $100,000 Sunset Handicap, the traditional closing day feature which will be run for the 71st time Sunday, July 15. The English bred will be ridden by Julien Leparoux …… Bonde reports unbeaten Amarish, easy winner of the Willard L. Proctor Stakes June 16th, is doing super and the trainer is looking forward to running the Scat Daddy gelding in Saturday’s, $150,000, Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship at six furlongs……..Topping the 12 nominees for Saturday’s $150,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs are impressive maiden winner Executiveprivilege, from the Baffert barn, and Gary and Cecil Barber and Kevin Tsujihara’s Miss Empire, the winner of the Cinderella Stakes June 16 for trainer Peter Miller… John Sadler sees some similarities between recent arrival Juan Hernandez and Joel Rosario. Hernandez rode Gladding to an easy victory for the trainer in the Alamedan Handicap July 1 at Pleasanton. “They’re both young riders from the north,” said Sadler. “Hernandez has the ability to be real good, that’s for sure.”……..Jockey Joe Talamo tweeted that he had a busy morning Friday. The young rider worked 11 horses, four short of his personal best. Among the workers was multiple graded stakes winner Include Me Out for owner Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable and trainer Ron Ellis ….Summit Racing, George Bolton and Jeremy Peskoff have purchased a majority interest in Cotton’s Point, runner-up June 24 in a maiden race for 2-year-old fillies bred in California. The daughter of Salt Lake will remain in the barn of trainer Jeff Bonde.
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