(from Hollywood Park)
Trainer Doug O'Neill says the venerable Lava Man, working out at Hollywood Park since September, is nearing his return to the races.
O’Neill, speaking Nov. 12, said he hopes Lava Man, who could add to his career bankroll of $5,268,706, will start during the fall meet.
“I’m not sure exactly where he’s going to run,” added the trainer. “Something going two turns on either the main track or turf during the next few weeks.”
The 8-year-old gelding was retired in the autumn of 2008, but made a remarkable recovery through stem-cell therapy to his ankles, leading to his return to training at O'Neill's barn at Hollywood.
Lava Man recorded his sixth work since the return Nov. 11 -- Veterans Day appropriately for the grizzled veteran -- covering six furlongs in 1:14 under exercise rider Tony Romero.
“He finished up good in that work and is doing great,” said O’Neill. “Dr. (Doug) Herthel, who did some of the stem-cell work at Alamo Pintado (in Los Olivos), was down to take a look at him.”
Lava Man, a California-bred owned by STD Racing and Jason Wood, made his last start at Del Mar in July 2008, finishing sixth in the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) on turf. He won the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) for a third successive time in 2007, equaling the feat of Native Diver from 1965-67.
O’Neill, leading trainer at the Hollywood fall stand last year and the spring/summer meet earlier this year, hopes to get off to a fast start with several entrants this weekend.
The lineup includes Enriched, a 4-year-old half-brother to Lava Man who drew post 8 in a field of nine in the $75,000 On Trust Handicap for California-breds at 7 1/2 furlongs Nov. 14.
“He’s very consistent — four-for-nine,” said O’Neill of Enriched, a gelding who will be making his first start for the O'Neill barn since being claimed for $32,000 out of a race he won at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.