Lava Man, who worked six furlongs under regular exercise rider Tony Romero in 1:14 2/5 at Hollywood Park April 5, is “on target” to make his 2008 debut in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes April 27, according to trainer Doug O’Neill.
“The work was fantastic,” O’Neill said. “He started out nice and easy, then gradually picked it up. He galloped out real strong. Visually, it couldn’t have been any better.”
This was the fourth recorded workout of the year for Lava Man, who has won 17 of 43 lifetime starts while earning $5,214,706. The 7-year-old California-bred gelding, owned by STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood, worked three furlongs March 12 in :36 1/5, four furlongs March 20 in :48 1/5 and five furlongs March 28 in 1:00 2/5 prior to his April 5 workout. Because his four works this year have been done without him being asked by the rider, they all have been termed “breezing” by the official Hollywood Park clockers.
O’Neill said one reason Lava Man is on target for the Khaled is “he gets so much more out of his daily gallops than an average horse.”
The Khaled, a 1 1/8-mile grass race, is part of Hollywood Park’s $1.3 million Cal National Gold Rush IX program. Lava Man won the 2006 Khaled by 5 1/4 lengths. The son of Slew City Slew—Li’l Miss Leonard, by Nostalgia’s Star, was taken out of training last fall and sent to NexStar Ranch in Temecula, Calif., after finishing sixth in the California Cup Classic Nov. 3. He returned to O’Neill’s Hollywood Park barn Jan. 26.
If all goes well, Lava Man’s connections hope to see him run in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), which will be renewed June 28. If he does compete in that 1 1/4-mile main-track race, Lava Man could make history by becoming the only horse to win the Gold Cup four times. Native Diver (1965-67) and Lava Man (2005-07) are the only three-time Gold Cup winners.