Alphabet Kisses Puts A Gleam in Steven's Eye

(from Hollywood Park notes)
Jockey Gary Stevens, who has already won the A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) a record six times, seeks number seven Saturday aboard 119-pound highweight Alphabet Kisses in the $150,000 test for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

"She's been training good," said trainer Marty Jones of the roan 4-year-old filly who seeks to become the third straight California-bred to win the race after triumphs by Cee's Elegance in 2003 and Dream of Summer last year.

Alphabet Kisses is the 119-pound high weight in the field of nine.

"Seven furlongs has been a good distance for her," Jones said of Alphabet Kisses, who won the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) against 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita and the B. Thoughtful Stakes at Hollywood Park at that distance. She was compromised by a bad start in the Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) in her last start at Hollywood on June 4 and finished fourth in the 1 1/16-mile race, her first setback in six starts at the Inglewood track.

Stevens has won the A Gleam with Outstandingly in 1986, Integra in 1988, Stormy But Valid in 1990, Bold Windy in 1993, Angi Go in 1995 and Toga Toga Toga in 1997.

Puxa Saco, who won Hollywood's Desert Stormer (gr. III) at six furlongs on June 5, is one of the major contenders. Alex Solis replaces Mike Smith, who was aboard the 5-year-old mare in her win for trainer Jenine Sahadi.

Multiple stakes winner Valentine Dancer, second in the Winstar Distaff Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Lone Star Park turf May 30, returns to the dirt Saturday. She was entered for Sunday's Royal Heroine on the grass but was scratched for this spot by trainer Craig Lewis. The million-dollar Cal-bred is a back-to-back winner of the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf.

Looking to get untracked this year, the 6-year-old Star Parade shortens up for the A Gleam after running third in the 1 1/6-mile Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II). Darrel Vienna's trainee has lost six races in a row since winning the 2004 Milady.

$150,000 A Gleam Invitational Handicap (gr. II, Race 4, 2:53 p.m.), fillies & mares 3 & up, 7 furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Alphabet Kisses (CA), 119, Gary L. Stevens
2. Festival (JPN), 112, Danny Sorenson
3. Puxa Saco (KY), 118, Alex O. Solis
4. Heavenly Humor (KY), 115, Patrick A. Valenzuela
5. Rinky Dink (AUS), 112, Rene R. Douglas
6. Valentine Dancer (CA), 118, Jon K. Court
7. Muir Beach (KY), 113, David R. Flores
8. Ramatuelle (CHI), 114, Garrett K. Gomez
9. Star Parade (ARG), 116, Jose Valdivia, Jr.