The maiden Harlene, sent off at odds of 33-1, picked a good spot to break through with his first win in seven starts, winning the $250,000 Cal National Snow Chief by a neck at Hollywood Park April 27.
The Snow Chief, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track, was the most lucrative stakes on the $1.3 million Gold Rush program for California breds.
The victory caused a $69.80 upset to win and topped a $2 exacta worth $608.60, a $2 trifecta paying $8,286.60 and a $1 superfecta returning $91,203.10.
The victory certainly lessened the sting trainer Doug O'Neill felt when his star Lava Man finished third in the TVG Khaled, the gelding's first start of 2008. O'Neill also saddled the close third-place finisher, One Chin Again, also a 42-1 maiden. Pacesetting Scott Spirit, who carved quick early fractions for the distance -- :23.37, :46.93 and 1:11.39 -- finished fourth.
"My main focus today was Lava Man," O'Neill said after Harlene's victory. "We're glad he came out of it OK, but disappointed. With these horses, I thought they'd run well but I'd be lying if I said I thought they would win. Now I can look for a non-winner's of one spot."
Ridden by Michael Baze, Harlene was reserved early while enjoying a ground saving trip. He snuck through on the rail to challenge, getting the lead in the final strides to score by a neck over the stubborn Dewey's Special, who proved tough to run down after getting the lead mid-stretch. It was another neck to One Chin Again, who closed willingly as well. The final time was 1:49.96
Harlene, a gelding by Decarchy --Tiara Glow, by Chief's Crown, raced with blinkers for the first time in three starts. He was coming off an eighth-place showing against open maiden special weight company at 1 1/16 miles April 5 at Santa Anita. His best previous finish was third, which he had accomplished four times in six tries, including last fall's California Cup Juvenile when he was 7 1/2 lengths behind the grade II winner Sierra Sunset. The bay has now banked $183,560 for owners Claimboxdotcom and Royce S. Jaime Racing with the winner's share of $150,000.
The stalking Stella Mark surged to the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the $150,000 Tiznow going away by 1 1/2 lengths over the pacesetter Cost of Freedom.
Owned by Jeffrey Sangara, Stella Mark made it back-to-back wins for trainer Ted West at odds of nearly 13-1, paying $27.60 for the win. Medzendeekron, the 2-1 favorite in a scratched down field of six, finished third. The final time for the 7 1/2-furlong Cushion Track test was 1:27.10.
Brice Blanc drove the 4-year-old Benchmark gelding to victory. Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. Wygod out of the Deputy Minister mare Social Savvy, Stella Mark was a $6,000 Barretts buy in October 2005.
Stella Mark earned $90,000 for his first stakes victory. Overall, the dark bay has won five times in 14 starts while banking $261,276.
The disqualification of Gambler's Justice from victory in the $200,000 Melair made Bel Air Sizzle a winner for the second time in four days and gave trainer Barry Abrams back-to-back triumphs on the Gold Rush card.
Bel Air Sizzle won an allowance race on the grass by 2 3/4 lengths on April 24 and was entered right back as the result of some confusion with the track's racing office. Rather than scratch, Abrams decided to run Bel Air Sizzle in the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track test for 3-year-old fillies, a decision that paid a $120,000 dividend.
Front-running Gambler's Justice, ridden by Richard Migliore, drifted in a bit near the eighth pole, causing contact with eventual third-place finisher Final Fling, who was trying to squeeze through a narrow opening at the rail for Garrett Gomez. The resulting bump knocked Final Fling, the 3-5 favorite in the field of eight, into the rail. Gambler's Justice was dropped to third and Final Fling moved up to second, giving the win to Bel Air Sizzle, who finished strongly on the outside and was not involved in the incident.
Owned in partnership by her co-breeder Madeline Auerbach, Bel Air Sizzle gained her fourth win in nine starts and increased her earnings to $259,940. In her only prior stakes try, the busy daughter of Unusual Heat--Bel Air Belle, by Runaway Groom, ran third in the Providencia (gr. IIT) at one mile on the Santa Anita turf April 5. Sent off as the second choice, she completed the journey in 1:43.38 and paid $7.60.
Spenditallbaby collared 7-10 favorite Tiz Elemental in deep stretch, driving to a one-length victory from well off the pace for trainer Barry Abrams in the $150,000 B. Thoughtful.
The 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat--Andoverthemoney (by Dynaformer) snapped a six-race losing streak at odds of 12-1 while clocking a time of 1:21.04 for seven furlongs on Cushion Track.
Michael Baze was aboard the winner, who brought up the rear in the six-horse field for the first half-mile. Tiz Elemental, with Victor Espinoza aboard, took the lead from the pacesetting River Glow near the sixteenth pole but could not hold off Spenditallbaby.
Spenditallbaby was making her first start since Nov. 3. Abrams trains Spenditallbaby for Mark Fiorito, Peggy Johnson, Tom R. Roberts, et al. Spenditallbaby ($27) earned her fifth win in 21 starts and boosted her earnings to $417,730 with the $90,000 winner's share.
Tiz Elemental finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of the show horse Chosen Royalty.
Front-running Tutta Bella held off Comedy Girl by a neck to win her third consecutive race for trainer John Sadler in the $150,000 Fran's Valentine.
Ridden by Garrett Gomez, the 5-year-old daughter of Holy Bull--Griselda (Red Ransom) completed the 1 1/16-mile grass test for older fillies and mares in 1:41.87.
Sadler trains Tutta Bella for owner and breeder Pamela Ziebarth. First or second in eight of 10 lifetime starts, the dark bay earned $90,000 for her first stakes win. She has banked $252,720
Sent off as the second choice in a field of five, she paid $6.20 to win. Comedy Girl, ridden by Russell Baze, was 1 1/2 lengths clear in second. Swiss Current and Michael Baze nosed 7-10 choice Tiz a Blend for third.