Soul City Slew, a veteran gelding who won his first stakes when he upset the Potrero Grande Handicap (gr. II) last month, returns to Hollywood Park in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) May 16.
Soul City Slew, who had run for a $50,000 claiming tag in March, pulled off an upset in the $126,000 Potrero Grande Handicap (gr. II) April 4 at Santa Anita Park in California, defeating favored Halo Najib by a half-length. It was the first stakes win of any kind for Soul City Slew, who had shown flashes of promise previously when he had finished third in both the 2007 Pat O'Brien Handicap (gr. II) and the 2008 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II).
Winless in 11 previous graded stakes tries, Halo Najib figures to never get a better chance to end the hex than he has in the $150,000 Potrero Grande Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita April 4.
Defending champion Get Funky, seeking an assured Breeders' Cup berth, heads 12 entrants in the $100,000 Morvich Handicap as the Oak Tree Racing Association launches its 40th season at Santa Anita Sept. 24.
Unusual Suspect, a grade III winning son of the California sire Unusual Heat, makes his 2008 bow in the $100,000 San Simeon Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Santa Anita's hillside turf course April 19.
Surf Cat closed with a rush to win his first race since 2006, edging Greg's Gold by a half-length in the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 16.
Grade I winner Circular Quay, a contender on the Triple Crown trail last year for trainer Todd Pletcher, kicks off his 4-year-old campaign Feb. 16 in the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) at seven furlongs on the Santa Anita main track.
With TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Midnight Lute skipping the race, synthetic track standout In Summation takes center stage in the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) over the Santa Anita Cushion Track Jan. 21.
Greg's Gold, who returned earlier this year from a 17-month layoff after bowing a tendon, completed his comeback for trainer David Hofmans Aug. 19 with a 1 1/2-length victory in the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) over seven furlongs on the Del Mar Polytrack.
Bob Baffert is not the only successful veteran trainer who is having difficulty winning on synthetic surfaces. Count Bruce Headley among those who have been unable to conquer Cushion Track at Hollywood Park or Polytrack at Del Mar.
Californian (gr. II) winner Buzzards Bay heads a quality field of eight for Saturday's $300,000 San Diego Handicap (gr. II), a prime prep for Del Mar's signature event, the Pacific Classic (gr. I) on Aug. 19.
Trying Hollywood Park's Cushion Track for the first time, favored El Roblar gained the lead at the top of the stretch for jockey Victor Espinoza and rolled to a two-length win over grade I winner Siren Lure Saturday in the $109,700 Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) at 7 1/2 furlongs.
Siren Lure, third as the 11-10 favorite in last year's $100,000 San Simeon Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Santa Anita's downhill turf course, has that failure to rectify as the 121-pound high weight on Saturday.
Likely favorites Brother Derek and Arson Squad will switch riders for Saturday's $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) for 4-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
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