Lava Man, winning the Pacific Classic.

Lava Man, winning the Pacific Classic.


Streaking Lava Man Tackles Six in Goodwood

(from Oak Tree at Santa Anita notes)
Lava Man, the $50,000 claim whose extraordinary string of six stakes victories this year has netted $2,470,000, headlines Oak Tree's $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Saturday.

The 1 1/8-mile Goodwood is to be Lava Man's final run before the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I). It is one of three major stakes on the ten-race card that will impact racing's championship day on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

The West Coast's reigning superstar clearly is Lava Man, the 5-year-old gelding who began the year by winning Santa Anita's Sunshine Millions Classic. He became the first horse to sweep the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Del Mar's Pacific Classic (gr. I), the signature races at Southern California's three major racetracks.

Jockey Corey Nakatani, who has partnered the California-bred's 2006 display of perfection, will be back aboard for trainer Doug O'Neill when Lava Man faces six rivals including 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) champion Giacomo on Saturday. The Goodwood, whose winners have gone on to capture two of the past six Breeders' Cup Classics (Pleasantly Perfect, 2003, and Tiznow, 2000), will be televised nationally by ESPN2 at 3:17 p.m.

Assigned high weight of 126 pounds, Lava Man will be conceding eight to Giacomo, who was fifth behind Lava Man in the Aug. 20 Pacific Classic. John Shirreffs, who trains Giacomo, is hoping for a more favorable pace scenario this time for his stretch runner.

The seven-horse field also includes Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Brother Derek, the only 3-year-old entered. Ridden by Alex Solis, the Dan Hendricks-trained Brother Derek gets in with 115 pounds

Bob Baffert, who trains Preachinatthebar (117), isn't sure what to think after watching Lava Man on the track at Hollywood Park earlier this week. "My God, he looked good," commented Baffert. "I wish I would not have seen him."

If Lava Man is victorious in the Goodwood, he will earn $300,000 to lift his earnings for the year to $2,770,000 and for his career to $3,804,706. He has earned a record $3,406,103 for STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood since being claimed at Del Mar on Aug. 13, 2004. Lava Man enters the race with an overall record of 13-7-3 in 33 starts.

Giacomo has reached the winner's circle but once in six starts since his 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby. He scored in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar on July 22 prior to his lackluster effort in the Pacific Classic. Regular rider Mike Smith will accompany the gray colt who has earned $2,222,316 from a 3-2-4 mark in 14 races for Mr. & Mrs. Jerome Moss and Frank Stronach. The 4-year-old son of Holy Bull is due to be retired at year's end.

Giacomo had an uncharacteristic bullet workout Sunday at Santa Anita, going six furlongs in 1:11 2/5.

"That work was pretty fast," trainer John Shirreffs said. "The one before that, he went a little too slow (1:17 2/5 for six furlongs on Sept. 24)."

It appears Giacomo would benefit with speedsters Preachinatthebar, Brother Derek and Lava Man in the lineup.

"I thought Preachinatthebar would be in front in the Pacific Classic, but it didn't happen," Shirreffs said. "My horse needs a good, strong pace."

$500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II, Race 6, 3 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Romeo Plus (ARG), 111, Norberto Arroyo, Jr.
2. Giacomo (KY), 118, Mike E. Smith
3. Super Frolic (KY), 117, David Cohen
4. Lava Man (CA), 126, Corey S. Nakatani
5. Preachinatthebar (KY), 117, Jon K. Court
6. Magnum (ARG), 117, Martin A. Pedroza
7. Brother Derek (CA), 115, Alex O. Solis