Trainer Doug O’Neill, in quest of a second consecutive Kentucky Derby victory, reported that Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents arrived in Louisville without incident.
“He left LAX at 2 a.m. Saturday morning, got here in fine shape, and so far everything’s gone perfectly,” said O’Neill.” “I arrived in the early evening. The whole crew is here and we are pumped up.” O’Neill added that Goldencents jogged on the Churchill Downs main track Sunday morning.
The son of Into Mischief, whose victories also include the Grade III Delta Jackpot and Grade III Sham Stakes, is following a similar pattern as I’ll Have Another, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby for O’Neill.
“The pattern may be similar, but you have to have the horse,” continued O’Neill. “I’d say it’s 99 per cent the horse and one per cent our program. Last year’s experience has really helped our crew handle the situation.”
FIELD SHAPING UP FOR MERVYN LEROY HANDICAP
A trio of Bob Baffert runners are among a field of eight or nine expected for Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000-guaranteed Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, the first major steppingstone to the Grade I, $500,00 Hollywood Gold Cup July 6.
Liaison (Martin Garcia), winner of the 2011 CashCall Futurity on Cushion Track and the Santana Mile March 31 at Santa Anita, and Guilt Trip, winner of the Grade II Strub Stakes Feb. 2, head the Baffert contingent. Hoorayforhollywood (no rider) is listed as possible.
Other likely participants are 2011 Native Diver Handicap winner Kettle Corn (trainer John Sadler), Blueskiesnrainbows (Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, jockey Tyler Baze), winner of the Grade II Swaps Stakes in 2012 at Betfair Hollywood Park, and Oilisblackgold (Craig Dollase, Edwin Maldonado).
Dan Ward, Hollendorfer’s assistant, said Rousing Sermon has been training super and could join Blueskiesnrainbows in the starting gate.
John Scott, scratched from the Tiznow Stakes April 27, is unlikely for the LeRoy.
“He hasn’t fully recovered from a recent illness,” declared trainer Carla Gaines. “It’s nothing serious, but he just hasn’t been working like himself. His blood count is OK but we were hoping for more of a spark by the weekend.”
Gaines left open the possibility of running Midnight Transfer in the LeRoy. “He’s an enigma,’’ she said of the 4-year-old Hard Spun colt. “We’re not sure if he wants to sprint or route and we’re going to take some more time to make a decision.”
GOLD RUSH WINNERS RETURN IN GOOD ORDER
The four major stakes winners on Saturday’s California Gold Rush card returned in good order, according to their connections.
Assistant trainer Dan Ward stated that Hollendorfer’s three winners; Kate’s Event (Tiznow Stakes), Doinhardtimeagain (Melair Stakes) and Curvy Cat (B. Thoughtful Stakes) all came out of the race fine.
Snow Chief Stakes winner Surf Cup also emerged from the race well and was in good shape Sunday morning, advised Mike Marlow, assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
TIZ FLIRTATIOUS, LADY OF SHAMROCK REMAIN ON COURSE FOR GAMELY
Tiz Flirtatious and Lady of Shamrock, two of the top female turf runners on the West Coast, are bearing down for a rematch in the $250,000 Gamely Stakes May 27, the first Grade I race of the Spring/Summer meet.
Tiz Flirtatious, trained by Marty Jones, won the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes March 24 and previously was runner-up to Better Lucky in the Grade I Matriarch last November at Betfair Hollywood Park. The daughter of Tizbud has won six of nine for owner-breeder Pamela C. Ziebarth and earned $424.800. Jones said he will work the 5-year-old mare a yet to be determined distance Friday.
Lady of Shamrock, winner of the Grade I Del Mar Oaks last summer and second to Tiz Flirtatious in the Santa Ana, is scheduled to work a half-mile for trainer John Sadler Monday or Tuesday. The 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly was moved up from second to first after the disqualification of Viva Carina in the Grade II Santa Barbara April 20. The dark bay has won seven of 13 and earned $825,400.
CLOSING STRIDES —Trainer Ron Ellis advised that Teddy’s Promise, the morning line favorite in Saturday’s $125,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes, was scratched due to a bruised foot. “We’re working on it,” said Ellis. “We’ll see how it goes this week.” Ellis nominated the Salt Lake mare to next Sunday’s $70,000 Time to Leave Stakes but indicated if she doesn’t make that race she’ll be pointed to the Desert Stormer Handicap June 16……….A film crew from The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley was at Betfair Hollywood Park Friday for an upcoming segment on Kevin Krigger, regular rider of Goldencents.………. Rafael Bejarano, last year’s leading rider during the Spring/Summer meet, blanked opening day, but didn’t take long for him to vault to the top of the standings. The 30-year-old was 4-for-4 Friday and picked up three more victories on Gold Rush Day Saturday.………. Mike Mitchell, the second winningest trainer in Hollywood Park history with 893 victories entering Sunday, received a nice 65th birthday present Thursday when East Sky won the first race of the meet….The first Pick 6 Saturdays – Presented by Television Games Network (TVG) – was $226,386, easily surpassing the $150,000 guarantee. One ticket purchased through TVG was alive to Hanserella heading into the $62,000 Alphabet Kisses Stakes. The 4-year-old never reached contention and finished 11th in the field of 13 California-bred maiden fillies and mares. The resulting carryover into Sunday’s program was $120,940. Pick 6 Saturdays will be offered throughout the meeting – except for May 4, May 18 and June 8 – and rewards a single winning ticket purchased either at Betfair Hollywood Park or through TVG the bonus of a 2013 Toyota Prius, courtesy of Toyota of Orange….Father and son will go head-to-head in Sunday’s second race at Betfair Hollywood Park. Jose Delgadillo, a 10-pound apprentice who has been riding at Golden Gate Fields, will make his local debut aboard Apalachee Song in the $30,000 maiden claimer for older fillies and mares. Breaking directly inside of Apachlee Song is Circular Logic, who will be ridden by Jose’s father, Agapito Delgadillo.
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