INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 2, 2012)—Multiple graded stakes winner Morning Line will make his first start of 2012 and first for trainer John Shirreffs in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
A Grade II at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track, the LeRoy is the first of three stakes on the 11-race card, following the $70,000 Cool Frenchy for older horses at five furlongs and the $100,000 Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf. The LeRoy is race 10 while the Senorita is the fifth and Cool Frenchy the sixth.
In conjunction with the simulcast of the 138th Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs, Betfair Hollywood Park will have an early post time of 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby – which has a scheduled post time of 3:24 p.m. PDT – will be shown between Betfair Hollywood Park’s eighth and ninth races. The entire Derby Day card will be simulcast. Track gates will open at 7 a.m. The first import is 7:30 a.m.
Owned by a partnership that includes Will Farish, Dixiana Stables and Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, Morning Line hasn’t run since finishing last in the Grade I Whitney Invitational Handicap last Aug. 6 at Saratoga.
Formerly trained by Nick Zito, the 5-year-old son of Tiznow and the A.P. Indy mare Indian Snow has won four of 12 and earned $1,122,300. His victories include the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park – now Parx – in 2010 and the Grade I Carter Handicap April 9, 2011 at Aqueduct. Additionally, Morning Line was second behind Giant Oak in the Grade I Donn Handicap last year at Gulfstream Park and second – beaten by a head by Dakota Phone – in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Nov. 6, 2010 at Churchill Downs.
The Mervyn LeRoy will mark the first start over a synthetic surface for Morning Line. “I really like what I’ve seen so far,’’ said Shirreffs, who is seeking his first win in the LeRoy. “He looks very competitive and like typical Tiznows, he’s very versatile. The owners just decided to give him some time off after his last race.’’
Joe Talamo, who won the 2009 LeRoy aboard Ball Four, has the call on the Kentucky bred.
Awesome Gem, who earned the sole Grade I win of his career when upsetting Rail Trip in the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup, will make his second start as a 9-year-old.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Craig Dollase, who won the 2001 LeRoy with Futural, Awesome Gem is 10-for-48 with a bankroll of $2,761,370.
The gelded son of Awesome Again and the Pentelicus mare Piano is 1-for-1 in 2012, having captured a $38,500 allowance April 12 at Golden Gate Fields.
In search of his first LeRoy victory, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will send out a pair of 4-year-olds for owner Ahmed Zayat – Jaycito and Prayer for Relief.
A son of Victory Gallop and the Ascot Knight mare Night Edition, Jaycito has won once in seven starts and earned $301,300. This will be the second race of 2012 for Jaycito, who was a distant second behind Ultimate Eagle in the Grade II Strub Stakes Feb. 4 at Santa Anita.
The sole victory of Jaycito’s career came in the Grade I Norfolk Oct. 2, 2010 during the Oak Tree/Hollywood Park meet. Jaycito was trained by Mike Mitchell at that time.
A well-traveled Jump Start colt out of the Mr. Sparkles mare Sparklin Lil, Prayer for Relief has five wins in 13 attempts and earnings of $1,057,225. Three of his wins came in Derbies as a 3-year-old, including the Iowa at Prairie Meadows, the West Virginia at Mountaineer and the Super at Louisiana Downs. His other two wins came in three starts over Cushion Track.
John Sadler, who is also without a win in this race, is also scheduled to run two – Gladding and Kettle Corn.
Owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, Gladding has three wins in 15 starts and a bankroll of $219,560. The 5-year-old Sarava gelding out of the Island Whirl mare Cannon Whirl will be making his Betfair Hollywood Park debut.
Kettle Corn, also owned by the Searings, is 2-for-2 over Cushion Track, including a victory in the Grade III Native Diver Handicap in his most recent appearance last Dec. 3. The 5-year-old Candy Ride horse out of the Lil E. Tee mare Somethingbeautiful is 6-for-12 with earnings of $171,891.
An upset winner of an optional claimer at six furlongs April 19, Great Warrior will seek his first synthetic victory. Owned by breeder Coudelaria Jessica and trained by A.C. Avila, the 4-year-old has won three of 13 and banked $136,706. The Brazilian bred is a son of Leroidesanimaux and the Seeking the Gold mare Esther Rose.
Honour the Deputy will be looking to end a 10 race losing streak for a partnership that includes Barnett Stables LLC, Mark DeDomenico and George Todaro and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
The 5-year-old Honour and Glory gelding out of the French Deputy mare Deputy’s Delight is 3-for-14 in his career with earnings of $110,690. His last win came in an optional claimer Nov. 26, 2010 at Laurel.
Thirtyfirststreet will be trying to bounce back after consecutive eighth place finishes in the Santa Anita and New Orleans Handicaps.
Trained by Doug O’Neill for Mark Gorman, Neil Haymes and Sterling Stables, Thirtyfirststreet has four wins in 16 races. The 4-year-old Good Journey colt out of the Sky Classic mare Avian has earned $355,200.
The California bred is 1-for-3 over Cushion Track, having collected his maiden win in his second start Nov. 20, 2010.
From inside out, the field for the 33rd Mervyn LeRoy Handicap: Jaycito, Brice Blanc rides, 116 pounds; Prayer for Relief, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 116; Great Warrior, Omar Berrio, 114; Morning Line, Joe Talamo, 119; Kettle Corn, Alonso Quinonez, 116; Thirtyfirststreet, Eswan Flores, 113; Awesome Gem, Martin Pedroza, 119; Gladding, Victor Espinoza, 116 and Honour the Deputy, Kevin Krigger, 113.
Bobina, who has won the first two starts of her career for owner-breeder Haras Santa Maria de Aras and Avila, returns to the turf in the Senorita.
The Malibu Moon filly out of the Dynaformer mare Maliziosa has earned $68,400. She won at the Senorita distance in her debut on turf March 31 before returning to win over a sloppy Santa Anita main track April 13.
Belle Passe is undefeated in two races in the United States for Always Believe Inc. and trainer Peter Eurton. The Van Nistlerooy filly out of the Kris mare Charlotte Corday, who finished second in her debut last May in Ireland, has banked $72,251.
Eurton will also be represented by My Gi Gi, whose only victory came on turf in her career bow last Aug. 18 at Louisiana Downs.
The daughter of E Dubai and the Sadler’s Wells mare Relish the Thought has banked $47,540 in five starts.
Second behind Lady of Shamrock in the Grade II Providencia April 7, Byrama will be making her Betfair Hollywood Park debut in the Senorita. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and trained by Simon Callaghan, the English bred has two wins in six starts. The daughter of Byron and the Darshaan mare Aymara has earned $90,768.
A winner once in two starts in this country for trainer Mike Mitchell, Graser will seek the third victory of her career. The Irish bred filly by Motivator and the Hailing mare Queen Padme has earned $43,768. She’s owned by Daniel Capen and Tommy Hutton Dream Stable LLC.
Light of Life steps into graded company for trainer Kristin Mulhall after a win against $75,000 maidens April 19. The daughter of Corinthian and the Charismatic mare Touch of Splendor has started four times and earned $28,490 for a partnership that includes Gregory Garvin, James Holden and Kretz Racing LLC.
Completing the field is Via Villaggio, who has yet to win in three races on grass. Owned by Steve Beneto and trained by Hollendorfer, the Bernardini filly out of the Alhaarth mare Hoh Buzzard is 2-for-8 with earnings of $59,070. Both of her victories have come at Golden Gate Fields.
From inside out, the field for the 44th Senorita Stakes: Light of Life, Alonso Quinonez rides, 115 pounds; Graser, Brice Blanc, 117; Bobina, Victor Espinoza, 119; Via Villaggio, Martin Pedroza, 119; Byrama, Jose Valvivia, Jr., 115; Belle Passe, Joe Talamo, 115 and My Gi Gi, Kevin Krigger, 115.
Excessive Passion, who won the 2010 Harry Henson Stakes the only other time he competed at Betfair Hollywood Park, is among eight entered in the Cool Frenchy.
Trained by Jeff Bonde for Rusty Brown, Alan Klein and Phil Lebherz, Excessive Passion has won four of nine and earned $163,940. The 5-year-old son of Vronsky and the In Excess mare Ms Hearts N Arrows has been idle since finishing second behind California Flag in the Grade III Morvich last Oct. 10 at Santa Anita.
From inside out, the field for the 2nd Cool Frenchy Stakes: Silver Summation, Alonso Quinonez rides, 118 pounds; Thinking of Girls, Daniel Vergara, 118; Excessive Passion, Victor Espinoza, 118; Obviously, Brice Blanc, 120; Sayif, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 118; Flightofalifetime, Joe Talamo, 118; Don Tito, Kevin Krigger, 118 and Italian Rules, Martin Pedroza, 124.
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