Lava Man, the popular gelding who was scheduled to make his much-anticipated return to racing in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 12, has been scratched due to poor weather conditions, it was confirmed by Hollywood Park spokesman Mike Mooney Saturday morning.
An 8-year-old California-bred owned by STD Racing and Jason Wood, Lava Man was set to make his first start since the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) on the July 20, 2008. An earner of $5,268,706 from 46 career races, the former claimer is a seven-time grade I winner. Lava Man resumed training in September after responding superbly to surgery for bone chips and stem cell and bone marrow injections.
Trainer Doug O’Neill had said earlier in the week he would likely scratch Lava Man if the heavy rain in Southern California continued. A next possible start for the son of Slew City Slew could be in the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita on Dec. 27.
"Doug said there is no urgency to run today. They waited this long and waiting a little bit longer is no big deal," Mooney said of his conversation with the trainer. "They will just wait for Santa Anita."
The defection of Lava Man leaves the Native Diver with an expected field of five. Post time is slated for 3:35 p.m. PDT.