Dual grade I winner Switch, seeking her first victory of 2012, carries top weight of 122 pounds in the $200,000 A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) at Betfair Hollywood Park July 14.
The A Gleam, one of four stakes on Hollywood's penultimate program of the spring/summer meet, is a Breeders' Cup Challenge race and would secure the winner a slot in the starting gate for the BC Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
Switch has been runner-up in the Filly & Mare Sprint the past two seasons, when the championship race was held at Churchill Downs.
Eight older fillies and mares are entered in the seven-furlong A Gleam, which is the ninth of a 10-race card and immediately follows the $350,000 American Oaks (gr. IT). Post time for the A Gleam is approximately 5:10 p.m. PDT.
Trained by John Sadler for C R K Stable, Switch began her season by returning to Churchill Downs for the Humana Distaff (gr. I) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. After pressing the pace while racing wide, she tired to finish fifth, nearly 16 lengths behind the track-record setting Groupie Doll, who ran the seven furlongs in 1:20.44.
Returned to Southern California, Switch could manage just a fourth in the six-horse Desert Stormer Handicap over six fulrongs June 17 at Hollywood. She was unable to overcome a slow start that day from her rail post.
“Her last race in the Desert Stormer was a little better than her first effort this year,” Sadler said. “Six furlongs is a little short for her. Hopefully, that race got her ready for the A Gleam. She’s doing well and I think this is a make or break race for her. It should help that there’s a lot of speed in there.”
Garrett Gomez takes over on the 5-year-old daughter of Quiet American, who has lost her past eight starts over 17 months. The losing streak, which includes placings in five grade I events, started after she recorded back-to-back grade I victories in the La Brea and Santa Monica stakes at Santa Anita in the winter of 2010-11.
Switch, who breaks from post 4 in the A Gleam, spots her opponents from two to 11 pounds. The bay mare has had two workouts since the Desert Stormer, including a six-furlong jaunt of 1:12 1/5 over Hollywood's Cushion Track July 7, the quickest of 11 on the day at that distance.
Izzy Rules, the runner-up in the Desert Stormer, ensures a lively pace while several others in the field–Mildly Offensive, Moonstruck Maya, and the Bob Baffert-trained duo of American Lady and Glamorista–can also motor. That could put Switch and Teddy's Promise in good position for the last furlong.
Teddy's Promise, like Switch, had a slow start in the Desert Stormer and could not emerge from the pack to challenge the winner Turbulent Descent. She finished behind Switch in fifth. Trained by Ron Ellis for owners Ted and Judy Nichols, the 4-year-old Salt Lake filly had her finest moment Dec. 31, winning the seven-furlong La Brea by 2 1/4 lengths in a 16-1 upset.
Victor Espinoza, who should be able to secure a stalking spot on the outside from post 5, retains the mount. Teddy's Promise is the second high weight at 120 pounds.
“She broke slowly, bobbled and got stuck on the inside, which she doesn’t like,” said Ellis of Teddy's Promise trip in the Desert Stormer. “She’s drawn toward the outside Saturday and that should help.”
Izzy Rules, from the Jeff Bonde barn, won four in a row earlier, including the Las Flores (gr. III) at Santa Anita in March. The Florida-bred Peace Rules mare, who led by four lengths in the Desert Stormer before giving way gamely, figures to be on go from post 7 with Edwin Maldonado aboard. She will be trying seven panels for the first time.
Mildly Offensive, who drew the rail, finished fourth in the Human Distaff and third in the Desert Stormer for trainer Carla Gaines.
Sugarinthemorning, trained by Ron McAnally, looks to break through with a grade I after runner-up efforts in both the La Brea and Santa Monica.
Baffert's entrants, American Lady and Glamorista, are both coming off victories. Kaleem Shah's American Lady was a handy winner of the 7 1/2-furlong Reminiscing Stakes over the track June 1. Glamorista, owned by Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, won a second-level allowance heat at 6 1/2 furlongs June 21 and makes her stakes debut.
$200,000 A Gleam Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 5:10 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Mildly Offensive (KY), J Talamo, 115, C Gaines
2. Moonstruck Maya (KY), J J Hernandez, 111, P Miller
3. Glamorista (KY), C Sutherland, 115, B Baffert
4. Switch (KY), G K Gomez, 122, J W Sadler
5. Teddy's Promise (CA), V Espinoza, 120, R W Ellis
6. American Lady (KY), R Bejarano, 116, B Baffert
7. Izzy Rules (FL), E A Maldonado, 117, J Bonde
8. Sugarinthemorning (CA), M Garcia, 116, R L McAnally