California shipper Wickedly Perfect carried her form to Kentucky, taking a field of juvenile fillies wire-to-wire to score the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) Oct. 8 on opening day at Keeneland.
There was some disappointment in the Lava Man camp after the soon-to-be 9-year-old gelding faded to last in his comeback from retirement in the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Dec. 27.
Lava Man, who is gearing up for a 2008 campaign to add to his career earnings of $5,214,706, had his first recorded workout of the year at Hollywood Park Wednesday morning, March 12, for trainer Doug O'Neill.
Favored Lava Man joined the legendary Native Diver as the only horse to win the prestigious Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) in three consecutive years when he prevailed by a nose over the gritty A. P. Xcellent in a heart-pounding stretch duel Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Lava Man is scheduled to return to his Hollywood Park base Wednesday night after his trip to Dubai, and trainer Doug O'Neill said it's "reasonable to say" the gelding won't be leaving his home state again.
Lava Man was named the 2006 California-bred Horse of the Year in voting by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, becoming a back-to-back winner of the honor, which was announced at the CTBA's annual awards dinner Feb. 5.
Dynamic California-bred Lava Man, on a four-race winning streak, was assigned 124 pounds for Saturday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). But after everything the 5-year-old gelding has accomplished this year, that probably wasn't enough -- just four rivals are signed on to challenge him.
After winning million-dollar races in his last two starts, Lava Man successfully took on another challenge Sunday, shifting to turf and winning the $150,000 TVG Khaled Stakes at Hollywood Park in course record time of 1:44.26 for nine furlongs.
Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Lava Man is expected to be among the starters for trainer Doug O'Neill on the Cal National Gold Rush program April 30 at Hollywood Park.
The grade I winner Lava Man flashed his former brilliance with a sweeping 2 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic to conclude the rich program for California and Florida-bred horses at Santa Anita Park Saturday.
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