Lava Man, Moscow Burning Class of Gold Rush

(from Hollywood Park)
Lava Man and Moscow Burning, the two most recent horses of the year in the Golden State, are among a deep cast of state-breds competing in the Cal National Gold Rush on Sunday at Hollywood Park.

Lava Man, 2005 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and 2006 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) champion, is the 124-pound high weight in the $150,000 TVG Khaled Stakes as he shifts to the turf in a bid for his third straight win of the year.

Moscow Burning, who is within striking distance of becoming the leading money-earner among Cal-bred females, will be favored in the race named in honor of the leader on that list, Fran's Valentine. A victory in the $150,000 event would put Moscow Burning within $17,000 of Fran's Valentine's record total of $1,375,465.

Sam's Ace, meanwhile, will head a field of eight 3-year-olds in the day's richest race, the $250,000 Cal National Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds. The Snow Chief runs as the ninth race on the ten-race program.

Lava Man, claimed for $50,000 in the summer of 2004 on the recommendation of co-owner Steve Kenly, has won five of his last eight starts and his two races in 2006 – both $1 million events. Three of his nine victories have come on turf. Originally, Lava Man was headed to the Pimlico Special (gr. I), but plans changed.

"We thought running here out of his stall was the best choice for keeping him good the rest of the year," O'Neill said. "He could come back in The Californian (June 17). The main goal is repeating in the Gold Cup (July 8)."

Lava Man drew the eight-post in the nine-horse Khaled, which is at 1 1/8 miles. He carries high weight of 124 pounds and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani. The field lines up from the rail out as follows:

Cheroot, David Flores up, carries 120 pounds; Super Strut, Tyler Baze, 122; Skywalker Red, Patrick Valenzuela, 114; Orbits World, Martin Pedroza, 114; Top This and That, Alex Solis, 114; Lil Mitch, Juan Ochoa, 116; Jack's Wild, Victor Espinoza, 114; Lava Man, Nakatani, 124, and Legal Logic, Omar Berrio, 114.

Sam's Ace, beaten 5 ¾ lengths by Kentucky Derby-bound Barbaro while finishing fourth in the Florida Derby (gr. I), won three of four prior starts and is the horse to beat in the 1 1/8-mile Snow Chief. Speedy Da Stoops, a winner of three starts and $336,950, has not won beyond seven furlongs and will try to stretch his speed, while Exchange Offer will try to overcome a lack of experience.

The eight-horse Snow Chief field: Scootin George, Valenzuela, 114; Da Stoops, Espinoza, 119; Sam's Ace, Solis, 117; Stephen Bruce, Flores, 114; Exchange Offer, Garrett Gomez, 114; Mesa Magic, Baze, 114; Fighting City Hall, Aaron Gryder, 114, and Mr Playwright, Orlando Martinez, 114.

Moscow Burning, a winner of 11 of 27 starts for earnings of $1,269,000, has captured two of three in 2006 for Bullseye Racing. She will face seven fillies and mares in the 1 1/16-mile Fran's Valentine:

Stormin Lucy, Baze, 116; Cyber Slew, John Court, 114; Fortunate Event, M.C. Baze, 114; Memorette, Solis, 114; Dancing Edie, Gomez, 116; Allbow, Miguel Hernandez, 114, Moscow Burning, Flores, 124, and Sip One for Mom, David Cohen, 114.