Southern California-based trainer Ron Ellis hopes to keep his Oaklawn Park record perfect Saturday when he saddles 118-pound highweight Buzzards Bay in the $500,000 Oaklawn Park Handicap (gr. II).In his only other appearance at Oaklawn Park, Ellis won the 1996 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) with Twice the Vice.Keeping Ellis' record intact will require the son of Marco Bay to hold off challengers such as Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) winner Purim and Andromeda's Hero, who is best remembered at the Hot Springs, Ark., oval for his third-place finish behind Afleet Alex in last year's Arkansas Derby (gr. I). "I'm really confident about our chances," Ellis said. "He's coming off the best race of his career numbers-wise, and it really restored his confidence. He's doing great, and training great. He's sitting on a big performance."Buzzards Bay, who was purchased last year by Gary Broad for $725,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale as part of a dispersal, enters the 1 1/8-mile race off a four-length win in the All American Handicap (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields in his only start on the year.The Florida-bred worked seven-furlongs in 1:24.69 March 31 at Ellis' Hollywood Park base. Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. gets the call; the pair will break from post one.Purim, trained by Tom Proctor, enters the Oaklawn with an impressive two-length win over the surface in the Razorback Breeders' Cup.
Before the Razorback, Purim finished fourth in the Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.Owned and bred by E. J. Sukley. the son of Dynaformer drew post five and will carry 117 pounds, including jockey Robby Albarado.The Nick Zito-trained Andromeda's Hero enters the race after finishing third to Brass Hat in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) and was fifth, behind Harlington, in the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II). Jockey Calvin Borel will ride the son of Fusaichi Pegasus in the Oaklawn, with the pair breaking from post two. $500,000 Oaklawn Park Handicap (gr. II, Race 11, 6:05 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles 1-- Buzzards Bay (Jose Valdivia Jr., 118) 2-- Andromeda's Hero (Calvin Borel, 115) 3-- Magnum (Martin Pedroza, 115) 4-- Gouldings Green (Corey Lanerie, 113) 5-- Purim (Robby Albarado, 117) 6-- It's No Joke (Jose Castanon, 114) 7-- Master Command (Mike Luzzi) 8-- With Distinction (Jose Jacinto, 113)