Hombre Rapido Turns Up Again in L.A. Times

(from Hollywood Park notes)
Hombre Rapido, an 8-year-old gelding who has competed in the last three runnings of the Los Angeles Times Handicap (gr. III) for sprinters, will attempt to emulate his 2003 victory when facing five rivals Saturday in the $150,000 renewal at Hollywood Park.

Martin Pedroza, whose only previous win in the race was aboard Mr. Prime Minister 22 years ago, will ride Hombre Rapido for the first time. Hombre Rapido is making his 29th start on the California circuit,

"This will probably be the last time," said trainer John Sadler on Thursday. "His owners have said they would never let him run in $50,000 or $60,000 claimers. When he can no longer compete in stakes, he will be retired to Granja Vista Del Rio." The owner-breeder is Burt Altfillisch of Corona.

Hombre Rapido faded to last in his first try in the six-furlong L.A. Times Handicap in 2002 but rebounded to win the race at 6.50-to-1 odds in 2003. He came back following a year layoff to finish sixth in the race last year. Hombre Rapido has made all his starts in the stake for Sadler after joining his barn as a 4-year-old.

Hombre Rapido, a Kentucky-bred son of Falstaff, tries to end an eight-race losing streak dating back to the 2003 L.A. Times victory, although he has been second twice and third four times.

"He comes into the race off three good efforts at Santa Anita," said Sadler of the gelding's recent record of two seconds and one third at the Arcadia track.

Hombre Rapido has won five of 28 starts and earned $431,880. He seeks to join the legendary Native Diver as the only two-time winner of the race. Interestingly, Native Diver won the race at ages 6 and 8 in 1965 and 1967, the same pattern that Hombre Rapido hopes to duplicate.

Buster Millerick, Native Diver's trainer, leads in L.A. Times Handicap victories with four. But Sadler could tie that mark Saturday.

$150,000 Los Angeles Times Handicap (gr. III, Race 4, 2:53 p.m.), 3 &up, 6 furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Forest Grove (KY), 115, Corey S. Nakatani
2. Tsigane (FR), 117, David R. Flores
3. Hombre Rapido (KY), 117, Martin A. Pedroza
4. Shadow of Illinois (CA), 116, Garrett K. Gomez
5. Woke Up Dreamin (KY), 115, Victor Espinoza
6. Areyoutalkintome (CA), 117, Rene R. Douglas