Bienamado Tops Field For Whittingham Memorial

From Hollywood Park
Bienamado, freshened since his victory in the April 14 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita and unbeaten in three grass stakes at Hollywood Park, will carry high weight of 124 pounds in the Grade I, $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf.

Bienamado heads a field of nine including defending champion White Heart in the Grade I, $350,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap while Frankel has Aptitude teamed with 2000 Pacific Classic winner Skimming in the $500,000 Californian, a prelude to the July 1 Hollywood Gold Cup. First post is at noon.

Bienamado, freshened since his victory in the April 14 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita and unbeaten in three grass stakes at Hollywood Park, will carry high weight of 124 pounds in the Whittingham at 1 1/4 miles on turf. White Heart was assigned 120.

Frankel has contracted Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jerry Bailey to ride Aptitude in the Californian at 1 1/8 miles as he seeks to unravel the enigma of a 4-year-old colt who has never won a stakes race, but who finished second to Fusaichi Pegasus and Commendable, respectively, in last year's Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

Skimming, meanwhile, will be looking for his first win since his wire-to-wire defeat of 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow in the $1-million Pacific Classic last August. After losses in the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, the 5-year-old bay returned from a layoff to be upset by Futural in the May 5 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.

As the Juddmonte Farms entry, Aptitude and Skimming almost certainly will be favored in the 48th running of The Californian, whose roster of previous winners includes Sunday Silence, Spectacular Bid, Affirmed and Swaps.

Futural, with Chris McCarron back aboard, will seek his fourth successive stakes triumph following victories in Santa Anita's Tokyo City Cup Handicap and San Bernardino Handicap prior to the Mervyn LeRoy. Craig Dollase trains the 5-year-old gelding for the Miller Trust and Weitz. "He's starting to show up like I thought he would from the start," said Dollase.

Skimming is the most accomplished of The Californian's three leading contenders. He has earned $986,601 from a record of 5-3-1 in 15 starts. Aptitude has banked $675,410 with a 2-4-1 mark in 10 races. Futural's record is 7-3-3 in 18 races for earnings of $418,700.

The complete field for the Californian, in post position order with jockeys and weights:

Red Eye, Gary Stevens, 116 pounds; Aptitude, Bailey, 116; Blade Prospector, Omar Berrio, 118; City West, Eddie Delahoussaye, 116; Skimming, Garrett Gomez, 116; Irisheyesareflying, 116, Victor Espinoza; Futural, McCarron, 120, and Jekyll And Hyde, Corey Nakatani, 116.

Bienamado's last win pushed the 5-year-old chestnut's earnings into seven figures at $1,051,009. Since arriving in the United States by way of Canada after beginning his career in Europe, the Kentucky-bred son of Bien Bien has won five of seven starts. His overall record is 7-3-0 in 14 races.

Owned by breeders John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery in partnership with Robert Sangster and trained by Paco Gonzalez, Bienamado will try to emulate his sire in the Whittingham. Bien Bien won the 1993 running in course record time of 1:57 3/5 when the race was called the Hollywood Turf Handicap for the connections of Toffan, McCaffery, Gonzalez and McCarron.

A British-bred gelding owned by Gainsborough Farm and trained by Neil Drysdale, White Heart raced only four times last year following his arrival from Europe. His only start this year was a neck victory over King Cugat in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 5. With Gary Stevens set to ride, White Heart could become the first two-time winner of the Whittingham since John Henry won the race an unprecedented three times in 1980, '81 and '84. The 6-year-old bay has posted earnings of $678,645 with an 8-1-2 record in 20 starts.

The complete field for the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, in post position order with jockeys and weights:

Affirmed Judgement, Espinoza, 112; Princess Ti, David Flores, 116; Dusty Heather, Nakatani, 116; Separata, Alex Solis, 122; Connate, Isaias Enriquez, 114, and Fair Apache, Delahoussaye, 116.

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