(from Hollywood Park)
Rafael Bejarano, winner of the last six major Southern California riding titles, has the mount on Backbackbackgone as Hollywood Park’s 70th spring/summer meet opens April 22 with the $70,000-added Harry Henson Stakes.
The Harry Henson will run as the seventh race on the eight-race program, which begins at 1 p.m.
Bejarano, who shipped his tack west during the 2007 Autumn Meet at Hollywood Park, swept the five major Southern California titles in 2008 and was leading jockey at the 2009 Santa Anita meeting, which concluded April 19. He rode 56 winners for his first Hollywood Park title at the 60-day spring/summer meet in 2008.
Backbackbackgone, winner of his first three starts, was not included in that total, but he did capture the Willard Proctor Memorial in his second career start last May. Bejarano was up one start later when he won the Jack Goodman by a nose at Santa Anita. The Florida-bred won the Golden Bear at Golden Gate Fields in his 3-year-old debut and was given a rest following a tenth-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream Park in late January.
He will be making his first start on turf while facing five other 3-year-olds in the six-furlong Harry Henson. The field lines up as follows:
Dream Now, with Tyler Baze up, carries 117 pounds; Luckiest Man, Joseph Talamo, 117; Backbackbackgone, Bejarano, 121; Position A, Victor Espinoza, 117; Mi Forest Amor, David Flores, 117; and Wall Street Wonder, Joel Rosario, 117.
First post time has been moved ahead 20 minutes Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the 2009 meeting with the standard 7:05 p.m. start on Friday nights. The lone exception in the Friday night schedule will be a 1 p.m. post time May 1 — Kentucky Oaks day and eve of Kentucky Derby day.
There will be four other post time adjustments during the 13-week meeting, which concludes July 19.
Opening post time April 25 will be at 12:30 p.m. for the 10th annual California Gold Rush program. Kentucky Derby day — Saturday, May 2 — will feature an 11 a.m. post time, as will Preakness day (May 16) and Belmont day (June 6).
The only deviation from the Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule will be a six-day week concluding with a special Memorial Day program on May 25, followed by a four-day week beginning May 28.
Thursdays will feature free general admission and $1 hot dogs, beers, and sodas. In keeping with Hollywood Park tradition, the $1 price on hot dogs, sodas, and beers will remain in effect for Friday night racing. The $1 beers will be available from noon until 3 p.m. on Thursdays and from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Fridays.
Regular prices are $8 for general admission, $10 for clubhouse, and $20 for Turf Club. Seniors 62 and older will receive a $3 discount on Wednesdays. All prices include parking and an official program.
The $700,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) July 5 and $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) July 11 anchor an $8 million stakes schedule. There are 49 races on the stakes schedule, including seven grade I events. There will be seven days with multiple stakes races, beginning with the $1.3 million California Gold Rush.