Borrego, a 4-year-old colt who finished third behind Rock Hard Ten and Congrats in the March 5 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), returns to action as the 119-pound high weight among eight entered in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II), a stepping-stone to the July 9 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I).Around this time last year, Borrego kindled the hopes of Triple Crown fans thanks to a game second-place finish to Smarty Jones in the Arkansas Derby (gr, II). But the colt failed to replicate his form and finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and seventh in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).Borrego failed to win another race in four subsequent 2004 starts, but trainer Beau Greely is hopeful the chestnut son of El Prado will realize some of that potential this year."He was a late foal; he didn't turn 3 until after the Preakness," said Greely Thursday while readying the colt for the Mervyn LeRoy. "He's got another year of maturity under him and has been training real well."Borrego returned encouragingly this year with an allowance victory at Santa Anita and his third-place finish in the Santa Anita Handicap, where he was beaten by 2 3/4 lengths. "We were going to run him in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) but he got a little virus," said Greely. "Now our goal is the three-race series here."Besides the 1 1/16-mile LeRoy and the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at 10 furlongs, the series includes the $250,000 Californian (gr. II) at 1 1/8 miles June 18.Greely does not think his 119-pound high weight will have any problem with the journey Saturday since his last two victories have come at the same distance.
The trainer is also anxious to see Borrego race for the first time at Hollywood Park after 14 starts. "He's been stabled here his whole life, but this will be the first time he's run here," said Greely. $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 5:23 p.m.), 3 & up, 1 1/16 miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. American Liberty (KY), 114, Corey S. Nakatani
2. Anziyan Royalty (CA), 114, Alex O. Solis
3. Ender's Shadow (KY), 113, Rene R. Douglas
4. Borrego (KY), 119, Garrett K. Gomez
5. El Don (CA), 113, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
6. Ace Blue (BRZ), 114, David R. Flores
7. Outta Here (KY), 115, Victor Espinoza
8. Native Hawk (FL), 113, Ramon A. Dominguez