The well-traveled Harlan's Holiday familiarized himself with new surroundings in Stall 20 in Barn 52 at Hollywood Park Thursday morning after completing his first trip to California for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) Sunday."He's a very good shipper," said Michael McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, following a direct flight from JFK in New York to LAX that arrived in California at 5 a.m. "He's nice and quiet. He's just settling in and peeking around."Harlan's Holiday, the leading money winner in the lineup, has earned $3,482,664 heading into the 1 1/4-mile test. Pletcher scratched the 4-year-old colt from the Suburban Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont last Saturday for this spot."Todd feels that he is a true two-turn horse, and he is training very well," said McCarthy. "He turned in a real nice breeze the morning after he was scratched. He may gallop tomorrow if he is as full of himself as I think he will be."Harlan's Holiday returned from a second-place finish in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 29 to finish a distant fifth in the Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park on June 14, when he was victimized by a tardy break and a sloppy racetrack.Pletcher, jockey John Velazquez and Starlight Stable owners Jack and Laurie Wolf will be at Hollywood Sunday for the piece de resistance of the meet, to be televised live on ESPN with a 5:40 post, Pacific time. "There appears to be a lot of speed in the race with Golden Ticket, Western Pride and Congaree, but I don't think we will be more than three or four lengths off the pace," said McCarthy. "I think we're in a good spot."Kudos and Piensa Sonando, one-two finishers in The Californian (gr. II) June 14, recorded their final drills Thursday. Kudos breezed four furlongs in :47 1/5 at Santa Anita under exercise rider Eddie Havegheer for trainer Richard Mandella, while Piensa Sonando worked an easy five furlongs in 1:04 4/5 here for conditioner Ron McAnally.
Kudos, a 6-year-old gelding, is expected to rally from well off the pace. "There is some pretty classy speed in front of us, but he does like a mile and a quarter," said Mandella of the homebred owned by Jerry and Ann Moss.Mandella said it was difficult to compare Kudos with his two previous Hollywood Gold Cup winners, Siphon in 1996 and Gentlemen in 1997. "I loved him when I saw him as a yearling on the farm, but we had a year of disappointments with him until we castrated him," said Mandella. "Then he broke his maiden and won four in a row."Piensa Sonando, a Chilean import owned by Nelson Bunker Hunt, has run well in three previous outings on this track. "The blinkers helped in The Californian," said McAnally. "It's just a small blinker on the inside. But he had been lugging in."McAnally, who celebrates his 71st birthday Friday, seeks his first Gold Cup victory in 27 years, since Pay Tribute in 1976.