Hollywood Park Race Report (Cont.)

Hollywood Park Race Report (Cont.)
Photo: Benoit Photo
Good Journey runs to victory in the Citation Handicap.

The Texas Express

For three years, Texas Glitter has left the comforts of the Todd Pletcher barn back east, heading to Hollywood to take a whack at the $200,000 Hollywood Turf Express (gr. IIIT). At 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass, the Turf Express seems tailor-made for the son of Glitterman. Twice, however, Texas Glitter got close but couldn't pull it off. On Nov. 29, he finally did. In the penultimate race of his stellar career, the 6-year-old turned in one of his gutsiest performances ever, running down the free-wheeling Rocky Bar to take the Turf Express in his third and final try.

Texas Glitter certainly had to work to get the job done. One of the quickest horses on the grounds, Rocky Bar set off like a thief on the lam down the backstretch, zipping an opening quarter in :21.21 before clocking a half in a hair-raising :43.41. The splits were hot, and many figured the In Excess colt would fold. He didn't. But Rocky Bar did start to shorten stride inside the final sixteenth.

By that time, jockey John Velazquez had worked Texas Glitter off the rail, and displaying sheer will, Texas Glitter went after Rocky Bar and caught him. They crossed the wire three-quarters of a length apart in 1:01.52. El Cielo, who nailed Texas Glitter by a neck back in the 2000 Turf Express, was touched out of third by favored Malabar Gold by a neck.

FRANKEL RULES

Trainer Bobby Frankel spent most of the holiday weekend tending to high-stakes matters back east, but his momentum in Southern California began to roll the day before the Matriarch. With long-time assistant Humberto Ascanio manning the ship locally, the barn pulled down the $200,000 Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) on Nov. 30 with Edmund Gann's Peace Rules.

A 2-year-old son of the Forty Niner stallion Jules, Peace Rules began his career this summer in the New York stable of trainer Gary Contessa. Gann cut a deal to buy the colt following his impressive maiden win on the grass and sent him west to join Frankel's high-powered string at Hollywood Park. Peace Rules had an immediate impact, losing a tight decision in the one-mile Pinjara Stakes at the Oak Tree meet.

His debut for Frankel was scotched by Man Among Men, a son of Gentlemen trained by Gary Mandella. They met again in the Generous. This time, it was no contest. Peace Rules secured an easy lead, coasted through splits of :23.69 and :46.86, and simply shook off the competition turning into the stretch. He stayed strong till the end, scoring by 1 1/4 lengths over Lismore Knight. Man Among Men, the 2-1 favorite, posed a brief threat before flattening out in deep stretch. He ran fourth behind Outta Here. Peace Rules got the mile in 1:35.49.

ATLANTIC CROSSING

For a large part of the year, expectations for Atlantic Ocean have been as broad as her name. Purchased for a king's ransom last spring by The Thoroughbred Corp., the 2-year-old filly, a daughter of Stormy Atlantic, was promptly turned over to trainer Bob Baffert. There were some bright moments during the ensuing months, including a solid run in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies, but forgettable efforts in both the Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) and the Long John Silver's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I)--in light of her $1.9-million price tag--more or less tabbed Atlantic Ocean as a bust.

Perhaps all she needed, though, was a change in direction. On Nov. 29, Atlantic Ocean got her first look at the grass in the $200,000 Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT). She may have found a new home. Ridden for the second time by David Flores, Atlantic Ocean looked strong the entire way, dueling with longshot Heart Ofa Champion before taking full command in midstretch. Tangle, a recent addition to the Craig Dollase barn, appeared with a late charge under Corey Nakatani, but Atlantic Ocean held on to beat her by a length, covering the mile in 1:34.63. Favored Ocean Drive, unbeaten in three starts back east for Pletcher, wound up fourth.

Like Atlantic Ocean, Viernes required patience before her opportunity to shine appeared. It finally came with a $51.60 surprise in the $72,900 Waya Handicap.

"She ran big, huh?" remarked trainer Paulo Lobo. "I was waiting for a mile and a half for a long time for her, and I think everything's going right."

Trained by Lobo's father, Selmar, while in Brazil, Viernes arrived in California late last year with a decent grass record and an affinity for marathon distances. Her three local starts didn't produce much inspiration, however, but in the 12-furlong Waya, she simply sprang to life. Under Victor Espinoza, the 5-year-old Roy mare leveled the field in early stretch, racing past the leaders en route to a four-length victory. Viernes--Friday in Spanish--completed the course in 2:26.38. She is owned by the California Racing Stable of Brazilians Helio Biscaro and Ibrahim Eris. b

At the Wire
Trainer Carla Gaines has another promising filly on her hands. Brite Sunny Day, a daughter of High Brite bred and owned by John Harris, impressively won a six-furlong heat on Nov. 29, giving the Gaines crew a chance to smile following the tough blow dealt to the barn's star-crossed sprinter, Unlimited Value. Impeded by a series of unfortunate injuries and chronically tender feet throughout his career, the son of Present Value may have reached the end of his racing days after fracturing his right pastern during a routine gallop on Nov. 29. The 6-year-old gelding had won the California Cup Sprint in his most recent start. By Craig Harzmann


(Chart, Equibase)

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