It will be student versus teacher in the $100,000 Bel Air Handicap at Hollywood Park when trainer Richard Baltas and Freedom Crest meets the Richard Mandella-trained Out Of Mind. Baltas assisted Mandella for 1 1/2 years before going out on his own.
"I was with Richard when he had Kotashaan," said Balta of the 1993 Horse of the Year. "I took Devil's Orchid, Leger Cat and Golden Treat on the road for him six months during that time."
Freedom Crest, a 5-year-old gelding, developed into a rags-to-riches story last winter. He was a former claimer who scored two sharp allowance victories at the Autumn Meeting at Hollywood and then won the grade II San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita in January. He was then the even-money favorite in the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) in February, but faltered badly and finished eighth, beaten by 13 3/4 lengths. He has not raced since.
The Brazilian-bred Out Of Mind will make his first start since the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) a year ago, when he finished fourth and suffered a bowed tendon. He earlier won the grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.
Mandella will be saluted at Hollywood Park Saturday during Hall of Fame Day, in deference to the trainer's induction into the Racing Hall of Fame Aug. 6 at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
A field of six or seven is probable for the grade II Bel Air at 1 1/16 miles: Out Of Mind (Eddie Delahoussaye, 118); Freedom Crest (Gary Stevens, 117); Penamacor (Chris McCarron, 115); Dig For It (Alex Solis, 113); Lesters Boy (Tyler Baze, 113) and Smile Again (Laffit Pincay, Jr., 113). Also possible is Moonlight Charger (113).