Pat O'Brien winner Greg's Gold headlines the Vernon Underwood Stakes.

Pat O'Brien winner Greg's Gold headlines the Vernon Underwood Stakes.


Greg's Gold Looks to Rebound

Greg's Gold leads a field of six in the Vernon Underwood Stakes Dec. 2 at Hollywood

Already with a stakes win over the Hollywood Cushion Track this year, Greg’s Gold will try to put a disappointing Breeders’ Cup behind him when he faces five rivals in the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes (gr. III) Dec. 2, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up.

A Bill Boswell homebred, Greg’s Gold has been no worse than second in six California starts in 2007, including three wins. The 6-year-old gelding by Lake George has stakes victories in the April 29 Tiznow at Hollywood and the Aug. 19 Pat O’Brien Handicap (gr. II) on the Polytrack at Del Mar.

Most recently, he was never a factor in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27, as he was unable to handle the sloppy conditions during an eighth-place finish.

Trainer David Hofmans has said that the Breeders’ Cup is a throw out race and that Greg’s Gold is extremely comfortable on synthetic surfaces, where he has never been worse than second in four career starts.

On Nov. 28, the gray gelding breezed five furlongs in :58.80 on the Hollywood Cushion Track, best among 36 works at that distance.

Out of the Fit to Fight mare Lake Windermere, Greg’s Gold has won seven of 21 lifetime starts and has been on the board in all but four efforts. He missed all of 2006 with a bowed tendon, but still has earned $838,123.

At his best when racing on or near the lead, Greg’s Gold has the advantage of breaking from the rail in the Underwood. He will get regular rider Victor Espinoza and carry highweight of 126 pounds.

Hofmans will also saddle Council Member, a 5-year-old son of Seattle Slew. After racing for Godolphin in England for three years, Council Member came to the United States in 2007, and has two allowance victories in five starts on dirt. Most recently, he was a well-beaten third in the Sport Page Handicap (gr. III) in the slop at Aqueduct for previous trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

After being privately sold earlier this month, Hofmans just received Council Member in his barn and will start him for the first time.

Hofmans biggest challenge should come from Waterford Stable’s In Summation, who defeated Greg’s Gold by a nose July 29 in the Bing Crosby Handicap (gr. I) at Del Mar for his first graded stakes triumph. It was the second of three consecutive wins for the 4-year-old son of Put It Back as he zipped to a new track record for six furlongs (1:11.06) on the new Polytrack.

In Summation, who also set the 5 1/2-furlong track record on the Monmouth turf, will attempt to win despite having not raced in more than three months. His last appearance was a victory in the listed Arlington Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap on Aug. 25, when he dead-heated with Piratesonthelake. Corey Nakatani will ride.

Also in the field are Florida-breds Double Action and Bushwacker, and 3-year-old gelding Quinton’s Fleet, an Arizona-bred who has made all six of his starts at Turf Paradise. Double Action, owned and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, won the Aug. 5 Pirate’s Bounty Handicap at Del Mar.

$100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 4:35 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds and  Up, Six Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Greg's Gold (CA), 126, Victor Espinoza
2. Quinton's Fleet (AZ), 116, Tyler Baze
3. In Summation (FL), 124, Corey S. Nakatani
4. Bushwacker (FL), 118, Joseph Talamo
5. Double Action (FL), 118, Michael C. Baze
6. Council Member (KY), 120, Garrett K. Gomez