Lava Man to Skip Record Gold Cup Attempt

Lava Man to Skip Record Gold Cup Attempt
Photo: courtesy of Hollywood Park
Lava Man will bypass the June 28 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I).
Lava Man, who tied Native Diver's record of three straight Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. i) victories last year, won't be going for a fourth one on June 28.

Lava Man was assigned 120 pounds for the 69th running of the 1 1/4-mile classic. However, trainer Doug O'Neill said that Lava Man is not ready.

“He’s going to wait until Del Mar,” said O’Neill. “I wanted to make sure he’s 110 per cent. That last race knocked him out a little bit.”

O'Neill has hinted that Lava Man could next race in the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) at nine furlongs on the Del Mar grass course July 20. Lava Man finished third in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at 10 furlongs on the turf June 7.

Heatseeker, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and the Californian (gr. II) this spring, has been assigned high weight of 123 pounds for the Gold Cup.

Tiago, beaten by Heatseeker in the Big ’Cap and the May 31 Californian on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track, defeated his rival by a head in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) and was assigned second high weight of 121 pounds for the 1 1/4-mile classic.

Other weights: Go Between, 118; Student Council, 117; Big Booster, 116; McCann’s Mojave, 115; Perfect Drift, 115; Zanjero, 115; A.P. Xcellent, 113; Mast Track, 113; Racketeer, 113; Spice Route, 113; Storm Military, 113, and Zappa, 112.

Heatseeker, expected to be a hot favorite, fired off a bullet move of :57 4/5 for five furlongs at Hollywood Park June 22 under jockey Rafael Bejarano.

“He caught some unexpected company and went a little faster than anticipated,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “But he did it real nice and easy and galloped out real nice, a mile in 1:37.

“We hope we have him exactly where we want him,” added Hollendorfer, who said he was satisfied with the way the 5-year-old chestnut has been training since a 5 1/4-length victory in The Californian. “He’s been coming up to the race in a nice way. He’s very comfortable with himself.”

Racketeer, purchased privately in New York last week, worked six furlongs over the same track in a bullet 1:11 1/5 for trainer Barry Abrams under jockey Joel Rosario. “He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:23,” said Abrams. “If he comes out of the work good, we’ll be going.”

Mast Track, considered a possibility from the Bobby Frankel stable, worked six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 under exercise rider Jose Dominguez.

A field of seven to ten appeared to be shaping up for the Gold Cup. Probable are Heatseeker (Bejarano), Tiago (Mike Smith), Big Booster (Corey Nakatani), McCann’s Mojave (Frank Alvarado), Perfect Drift (Victor Espinoza), Racketeer (Rosario) and Student Council (Shaun Bridgmohan).

Considered possible are Mast Track, New York-based Go Between and Spice Route, a European import who joined the Paddy Gallagher stable last week.

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