Ultra Blend Faces Baffert Trio in A Gleam

A starting spot in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) is at stake when a field of nine lines up for the $200,000 A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park July 16.

The winner of the seven-furlong A Gleam will have Breeders' Cup pre-entry and entry fees waived and receive a $10,000 travel allowance for the Nov. 4 event at Churchill Downs. The A Gleam, part of a Hollywood Park program that includes the $250,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles on turf, is race 9 on the card and is expected to go off at 5:07 p.m. PDT.

Ultra Blend, who won the 1 1/16-mile Milady Handicap (gr. II) May 21 due to the disqualification of St Trinians, will cut back in distance for the A Gleam.

Trained by Art Sherman for owner Nels Erickson, the 5-year-old Richly Blended mare has won five of her last six races, all stakes. The Milady was the second stakes win of the spring/summer meet for the California-bred bay. Ultra Blend had captured the B. Thoughtful on Gold Rush Day early in the meet.

A winner of four consecutive races over Cushion Track, Ultra Blend has won 10 of 21 in her career and earned $625,646.

The A Gleam field boasts a grade I winner in Shotgun Gulch, invading from Lone Star Park for her owner, breeder, and previous trainer C. R. Trout. Bruce Jackson is now the listed conditioner of the Oklahoma-bred daughter of Thunder Gulch.

Shotgun Gulch claimed the Madison Stakes (gr. I) at 11-1 odds April 14 over the Polytrack at Keeneland, and she gets back to a synthetic track after finishing fifth last time in the Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs May 7. The 4-year-old filly has won seven of 18 and earned $488,309.

Bob Baffert, the leading trainer at the spring/summer meet in terms of both wins (34) and stakes victories (seven), entered a trio in the A Gleam: American Story, Fund Raiser, and Irish Gypsy.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, American Story shortens up after finishing last in the Vanity Handicap June 18 (gr. I). The 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper , a winner of three of seven lifetime starts, goes back to blinkers after racing without in the Vanity. This will be her first start around one turn since she won her debut at 6 ½ furlongs Aug. 6 at Del Mar.

Irish Gypsy, owned by Mike Pegram and John Sikura, comes off consecutive wins in the Valid Expectations May 30 at Lone Star Park and the Desert Stormer Handicap at Hollywood June 19. The 5-year-old daughter of Hennessy has won five of 13 overall and is in search of her first graded win.

Fund Raiser, a 5-year-old Harlan's Holiday mare,  has won four of 14 for owner Arnold Zetcher. She comes off a third-place finish in the Desert Stormer in her first start of the year.

Tanda, a dual grade III winner, will seek to end a four-race losing streak in the A Gleam. Trained by Dan Hendricks for Tommy Hutton’s Dream Stable, the 4-year-old Sweetsouthernsaint filly hasn’t won since taking the Santa Paula (gr. III) and Railbird (g.r III) stakes in succession in the spring of 2010. Like the A Gleam, the Railbird is run at seven furlongs over Cushion Track.

A Florida-bred bay filly, Tanda has won four of 10 and banked $232,626.

Winless in five starts in 2011, Washington Bridge will be seeking her third stakes win at Hollywood Park for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who co-owns the 4-year-old with Mark DeDomenico. She was most recently a non-threatening fourth in the Desert Stormer after experiencing traffic problems.

A daughter of Yankee Gentleman , Washington Bridge has won five of 23 while earning $255,775. Her local stakes wins were the restricted Life Is Sweet last Nov. 12 and the Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) 23 days later.

Trainer Brian Koriner, who won the 2010 A Gleam with Sweet August Moon, will try for a repeat with Church Camp.

Owned by Pete Parrella’s Legacy Ranch, Judith Carmel, and Bill Strauss, Church Camp has won four of 10 in her career but has been no better than fifth in three previous appearances in graded races.

If the daughter of Forest Camp wins, Koriner will become the third trainer in a row to win the A Gleam in successive years. Hollendorfer won with Somethinaboutlaura (2006-07) and John Sadler repeated with Dearest Trickski (2008) and Evita Argentina (2009).

Mildly Offensive will make her first appearance over Cushion Track for owner Warren Williamson and trainer Carla Gaines. Fourth in the Manhattan Beach Stakes on turf June 18, the 3-year-old Sharp Humor filly has won two of three starts, including the 2011 Santa Paula on a sloppy track at Santa Anita by 4 1/4 lengths March 20.

$200,000 A Gleam Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 5:07 p.m.), Fillies & mares 3 & Up, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Church Camp (KY), A Quinonez, 114, B J Koriner
2. Fund Raiser (KY), R Bejarano, 118, B Baffert
3. American Story (KY), J Rosario, 115, B Baffert
4. Ultra Blend (CA), D R Flores, 119, A Sherman
5. Irish Gypsy (KY), M Garcia, 120, B Baffert
6. Mildly Offensive (KY), C Sutherland, 112, C Gaines
7. Washington Bridge (KY), J Talamo, 115, J Hollendorfer
8. Tanda (FL), V Espinoza, 117, D L Hendricks
9. Shotgun Gulch (OK), M E Smith, 119, B L Jackson
Blinkers On: American Story