The graded stakes fireworks over the final 11 days of the meet begin with a Grade I doubleheader with sprinters over seven furlongs batting lead-off in the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap followed by the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf.
A pair of runners ship west for the Shoemaker shooting for the automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade I) with Little Mike the 3-to-1 second choice looking to wire the field for Dale Romans and Corporate Jungle the 5-to-1 fourth choice with Rafael Bejarano in the irons for Chad Brown.
They’ll face a formidable group of local runners led by 2-to-1 favorite Mr. Commons, who draws the outside post in consecutive races after a runner-up finish in the American Handicap (Grade II) on May 26. The late-running 4-year-old son of Artie Schiller has been the odds-on favorite in his last three starts, winning the Arcadia (Grade II) before missing by a neck in the Frank Kilroe (Grade I).
The quirky Liberian Freighter is a live long shot at 12-to-1 off a solid effort when fading to third in the American in his first start in nearly a year. The 7-year-old Cal-bred son of Bertrando has five wins over this turf course, including a trio of graded stakes, and can track Little Mike early before getting first run on the closers.
An electric line-up steps up for the Triple Bend with another threat to lead gate to wire in 5-to-2 favorite and 123 lb. high weight The Factor. It’s all or nothing for the 4-year-old son of War Front, who in 11 career starts has won six times while finishing off the board in his other five races.
A perfect 4-for-4 at the distance, The Factor tries Cushion Track for the first time since a fourth-place finish when debuting over it in November of 2010. His a.m. activity for Bob Baffert upon return from disappointing in Dubai has been inconsistent and long shot Italian Rules is likely to pressure him early breaking to his outside.
The feel good story would come with a win by 6-to-1 shot Camp Victory, whose trainer Mike Mitchell underwent successful surgery to remove a brain tumor yesterday. The 5-year-old son of Forest Camp has finished in the money six times in graded stakes company since being claimed for $40,000 last February, including a runner-up effort to Smiling Tiger in last year’s Triple Bend.
Since that win that made him a perfect 3-for-3 over Cushion Track, Smiling Tiger has lost four straight with the last two coming on dirt on the East Coast. With his regular rider Joel Rosario having moved east, Mike Smith will be aboard the 7-to-2 second choice for the second straight time after they closed to finish third in the True North (Grade II) at Belmont Park three weeks ago.
The now horse could be 6-to-1 shot Cetralinteligence, who also loses Rosario off an impressive runner-up effort in the Los Angeles ‘Cap (Grade III) a month ago. His last two starts over this main track have resulted in triple-digit Beyer figures behind Baffert runners, and with L.A. ‘Cap winner Roman Threat electing to bypass this race for the Bing Crosby (Grade I) at Del Mar, he’ll be taking dead aim at The Factor turning for home.
We’re off to the races!
Pick 4 -
Leg 1 – Race 7 (1,2,4,6) – Four deep with 3-year-old fillies on the turf to begin the sequence using No. 1 Dynamic Diva, No. 2 Starship Flare, No. 4 Jolly Days and No. 6 Ricspretentiousgal.
Leg 2 – Race 8 (2,3,4,5,6) – A dynamic $40,000 allowance optional claimer that marks the long-awaited return of No. 3 Take Control, the son of champion mare Azeri who won his debut 2 1/2 years ago and hasn’t been seen since.
Note that Bejarano takes the call on Take Control, leaving the “other” Baffert Patriot’s Voyage, who has excellent form, to Jose Valdivia Jr.
John Shirreffs also sends a pair with maiden winner No. 5 Death Star, who crushed a bad maiden field in his last, and Euro shipper No. 6 Treasury Devil, a son of Bernardini that sold for $1 million as a yearling in 2009.
Finally, No. 2 Press Baron makes his third U.S. start and moves back to synthetic for the first time since breaking his maiden by two lengths in Great Britainlast year.
Leg 3 – Race 9 (3,6,7,8) – Another four pack in the Shoemaker with No. 3 Little Mike, No. 6 Corporate Jungle, No. 7 Liberian Freighter and No. 8 Mr. Commons.
Leg 4 – Race 10 (1,5,7,8) – Four more to close the card with Cal-bred maiden sprinters No. 1 Fighting Hussar, No. 5 Strong Wind, No. 7 Stretch and No. 8 Money Makin Sam.
Recap – (1,2,4,6) w (2,3,4,5,6) w (3,6,7,8) w (1,5,7,8) – Total cost of ticket = $160
Yesterday’s Result – (-$80)
Total for current Hollywood Park spring/summer meet – (-$1,729.45)
Total from 12/26/10 – 4/22/12 – (+$588.70)
Pick 5 –
Leg 1 – Race 1 (5,6) – A turf sprint to start the day where none of the runners have success over the surface with limited experience. The outside pair of No. 5 Absolutcat and No. 6 Grumpy Small Mouth should dominate at short prices.
Leg 2 – Race 2 (3,6,7) – She won’t be the 110-to-1 she was last time, but No. 3 Lucky Monique could post a mild upset on the slight cut back after clearing in her last before settling for third.
No. 7 Unusual Jewel led late going seven furlongs two weeks ago and Joe Talamo climbs aboard travelling a furlong less today. He and Steve Knapp have suddenly become the most potent duo around winning with 4-of-5 runners over the past couple of months.
No. 6 Lady Aragorn lost by just two lengths in her 2012 debut on June 9 and is a threat despite showing no works since.
Leg 3 – Race 3 (1,2,7,8) – No. 2 Circle Drive towers over this field on numbers with the continued drop in class, but he hasn’t won in a long time.
No. 7 Charlie’sboywins could find himself on a lonely lead early after holding on by a neck in his last.
No. 8 Fire Break also drops and cuts back from a long string of routes and No. 1 El Tango Ray debuted with a win over this track last November.
Leg 4 – Race 4 (3) – The continued drop down the ladder should land No. 3 Hout Bay in the winner’s circle today after she ran into run away and next out winner Moonstruck Maya in her last. She’s faced much, much better throughout her career and has the tactical speed to not fall too far back early.
Leg 5 – Race 5 (ALL) – Maiden allowance runners on the turf that are extremely difficult to separate so we’ll use them all.
Recap – (5,6) w (3,6,7) w (1,2,7,8) w (3) w (ALL) – Total cost of ticket = $84
Yesterday’s Result – (-$160)
Total for current Hollywood Park spring/summer meet – (+$105.90)
Total from 7/20/11 – 4/22/12 – (+$2,150.80)
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