Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Lava Man is expected to be among the starters for trainer Doug O'Neill on the Cal National Gold Rush program April 30 at Hollywood Park.
O'Neill, a four-time leading trainer at Hollywood Park, originally planned to ship Lava Man east for the Pimlico Special (gr. I) in mid-May. Instead, he is planning to run Lava Man in the $150,000 TVG Khaled Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
"He is doing great," O'Neill said Saturday. He said that he and owners -- STD Racing and Jason Wood -- decided it is best to keep Lava Man at his home base.
O'Neill claimed Lava Man, a winner of nine of 29 starts and earnings of $2,184,706, for $50,000 on the recommendation of co-owner Steve Kenly on July 28, 2004, at Del Mar. He had shown ability to route and he was also versatile, running well on dirt and turf.
Lava Man won the 2005 Hollywood Gold Cup by a record 8 3/4 lengths. He is two-for-two in 2006, winning a pair of $1 million races – the Sunshine Millions Classic and the Big 'Cap.
He has started on turf nine times, winning three races and finishing second in three others.
O'Neill, leading trainer at the Santa Anita winter/spring meet, will run Florida Derby (gr. I) fourth-place finisher Sam's Ace in the $250,000 Cal National Snow Chief Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. His other expected starters are Marciamarciamarcia in the $200,000 Melair Stakes, Areyoutalkintome in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes, and Cyber Slew in the $150,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes or the $150,000 B Thoughtful Stakes.