Kela Supplements to Underwood Stakes

Kela Supplements to Underwood Stakes
Photo: Benoit
Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap winner Kela supplements to Sunday's Underwood at Hollywood Park.
(from Hollywood Park reports)
Trainer Mike Mitchell called an audible Friday morning, supplementing grade I winner Kela to the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (gr. III) at Hollywood Park Sunday for $2,000.

One of the leading sprinters in the nation, Kela was shipped to New York last week for the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct on Nov. 27 but was scratched when he ran a fever the day before the race. He was shipped back to his training base at Hollywood Park on Tuesday.

The 6-year-old horse won the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) at Del Mar in July and finished second to Speightstown in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30 in his last start.

"He didn't have any temperature when he came back (from New York), and I started thinking about this (Thursday)," said Mitchell. "I drew blood to make sure he was okay.

"If he was ready to run a mile a week ago, he should be ready to run six furlongs Sunday," Mitchell added. "It was a call that I made. I could look like a genius, and I could look like an idiot."

The son of Numerous is one of three starters in the Underwood who ran in the BC Sprint. The others are third-place finisher My Cousin Matt and Our New Recruit, who finished 12th after a nightmare trip.

A winner of eight of 24 starts for earnings of $1,005,527, Kela has blossomed this year, his first campaign under the care of Mitchell. He won the Texas Mile (gr. III) at Lone Star Park in April before registering back-to-back victories in a pair of races at Del Mar – the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap and the Pat O'Brien Handicap (gr. II) – before finishing second to Speightstown.

Corey Nakatani will be aboard as Kela breaks from the outside post in the field of eight older horses in the Underwood.

Watchem Smokey is the defending Underwood champion, but he has only won once in six starts since then. The Bobby Frankel trainee is eight-for-14 lifetime with earnings of $220,900.

Tyler Baze, who rode Kela in his two Del Mar victories, rides 2003 Underwood runner-up Our New Recruit for the third consecutive time. Prior to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, the 5-year-old chestnut horse won the Pirate's Bounty at Santa Anita Park. He has earnings of $1,468,915, the majority coming in March when he won the $2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) under Alex Solis.

My Cousin Matt, a winner of eight of 33 starts for earnings of $864,779, surprised at odds of 60-1 in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. The 5-year-old, claimed for $85,000 during his 3-year-old campaign, registered his biggest victory in the 2002 General George Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel.

$100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (gr. III), 3 & up, 6 furlongs
PP. Jockey, Weight
1. My Cousin Matt, Ramon Dominguez, 116
2. My Master, Jon Court, 116
3. Taste of Paradise, Jose Valdivia Jr., 122
4. Our New Recruit, Tyler Baze, 122
5. Watchem Smokey, Rene Douglas, 116
6. Newark, Victor Espinoza, 118
7. Star Cross, David Flores, 124
8. Kela, Corey Nakatani, 126

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