Elusive Bluff, who won both of his starts as a 2-year-old but has not raced since Oct. 1, returns to action in the $100,000 Cinema Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park June 21.
Owned by Southern Equine Stable and trained by Eric Guillot, the Elusive Quality colt was entered in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Santa Anita, but was scratched two days before the race after injuring his right hind foot when he apparently kicked his stall.
The lone graded stakes winner among the eight 3-year-olds entered in the 1 1/8-mile Cinema, Guillot may have picked a cozy spot for the unbeaten bay's return. But Elusive Bluff could in need of a start before he is capable of an optimum performance, Guillot said.
"It's hard to get one going a mile and an eighth off an eight-month layoff," Guillot told Daily Racing Form. "He's a big heavy, horse anyway."
Elusive Bluff began his career on the grass at Belmont Park, breaking his maiden at first asking by nearly two lengths at odds of 32-1 in a one-mile special weight event last September. Stepped right into stakes company a month later, Elusive Bluff charged late to edge Show Me the Cash by a neck in Belmont's Pilgrim (gr. IIIT) on a yielding course.
Michael Baze, who rode Elusive Bluff in the 1 1/16-mile Pilgrim, has the return mount. They will break from post 4 with top weight of 118 pounds.
Elusive Bluff has been working at Hollywood Park for his comeback race, including a one-mile drill in 1:41 3/5 on the Cushion Track June 5. His last work was a handy 1:14 1/5 for six furlongs on the turf June 14.
Guillot also entered Arcodoro for Southern Equine. The winless Medaglia d'Oro colt could set the pace after just missing in a front-running maiden try May 30.
Also attracted to the Cinema are Northern California shippers Arden Park and Massone, who ran second and third, respectively, in the Alzatraz Stakes on the Golden Gate Fields turf May 23.
Arden Park, a Kentucky-bred son of Ecton Park, rallied from fifth to finish second in the 1 1/16-mile Alcatraz, beaten by one length.
“The pace was very slow in the Alcatraz and we gave ourselves a little too much to do, but he was closing,” said trainer Greg Gilchrist from Golden Gate. “I think the mile and an eighth will help him also.”
Arden Park, owned by Roger Dreyer’s Arden Village Lifestyle, has recorded two firsts and one second in four starts.
Rafael Bejarano, leading rider at the Hollywood Park meet, will be aboard the colt for the first time. Bejarano begins a three-day suspension that day but will be able to ride in the Cinema because it is a designated race.
Massone, trained by Ron McAnally for Frankfurt Stable, was making his turf debut in the Alcatraz. He ran third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind the victorious General Quarters on Keeneland's Polytrack April 11. The son of Menifee was runner-up in Golden Gate's El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) prior to that.
Oil Man, from the barn of John Sadler, rebounded from a seventh-place finish in Keeneland's Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) to win a first-level allowance race April 16. That was the Irish-bred colt's first win in five U.S. starts for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, and he has not been out since. Oil Man began his career in England, where he had a maiden victory in four tries.
Flashmans Papers tries to bounce back from a sixth-place showing May 23 in the Arlington Classic for trainer Doug O'Neill. The Great Britain-bred colt, owned by Triple B Farms, won the Eddie Logan on the Santa Anita lawn in December and is one of only two stakes winner in the Cinema field. He also defeated an allowance group in his lone start on Hollywood's turf.
O'Neill also sends out the Irish-bred Dover Street Art, who comes off of a good third-place effort in a Cushion Track allowance race May 24.
Zayat Stable's Herr Mozart beat a first-level allowance field March 25 for his second win in three starts for trainer Bob Baffert. He has not raced since while turning in some solid works recently at Santa Anita.
Jockey Victor Espinoza will seek a record-equaling third straight Cinema victory aboard Herr Mozart after scores aboard Worldly in 2007 and Tiz West last year.
$100,000 Cinema Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Massone (KY), G K Gomez, 116, R L McAnally
2. Dover Street Art (IRE), T Baze, 113, D F O'Neill
3. Flashmans Papers (GB), B Blanc, 116, D F O'Neill
4. Elusive Bluff (KY), M C Baze, 118, E J Guillot
5. Herr Mozart (KY), V Espinoza, 114, B Baffert
6. Arden Park (KY), R Bejarano, 116, G Gilchrist
7. Oil Man (IRE), J Rosario, 115, J W Sadler
8. Arcodoro (KY), J Talamo, 109, E J Guillot