Atlantic Ocean Heads Honeymoon; 6 in Desert Stormer

(from Hollywood Park report)
Atlantic Ocean, The Thoroughbred Corporation's $1.9-million filly, returns to to the grass in Saturday's $200,000-added Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park.

The Honeymoon, for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 mile on turf, highlights a nine-race program at Hollywood Park on Belmont Stakes Day.

Atlantic Ocean will carry high weight of 121 pounds among eleven 3-year-old fillies in the 52nd running of the Honeymoon. The Florida-bred filly, whose purchase price was a record at the 2002 Barretts 2-year-old sale, hasn't raced since finishing a well-beaten ninth on May 2 in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) over dirt at Churchill Downs. Her only previous race on grass resulted in a victory last November in the $200,000 Miesque (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park.

Bob Baffert, who trains Atlantic Ocean, says he has no explanation for her subpar effort in the Kentucky Oaks. Patrick Valenzuela will ride her for the first time on Saturday with regular rider David Flores in action at Belmont Park. The Kentucky Oaks failure followed three successive stakes wins and a second in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

Atlantic Ocean has won five of 12 starts and earned $508,820. She will run coupled with Major Idea, trained by Neil Drysdale for The Thoroughbred Corp.

"This should set Atlantic Ocean up for the American Oaks," remarked Baffert, referring to the $750,000 America Oaks on July 5 at 1 1/4 miles on turf.

A couple of European imports could be major players in the Honeymoon. French-bred Gotdream won her only U.S. start in Santa Anita's Hidden Light Stakes last October for trainer Bobby Frankel. She went to the sidelines with sore shins after that. She previously had won one of two starts in France before being purchased by Amerman Racing Stables.

Trainer Jim Cassidy will send out an entry that includes English-bred Star Vega, who won Santa Anita's Providencia Stakes following a fast-closing second in her U.S. debut. She has won three of six races including four starts in England.

A companion feature Saturday at Hollywood, the $100,000 Desert Stormer (gr. III) attracted six fillies and mares vying at six furlongs.

Curt Bourque, the leading rider at Arlington Park in Chicago, has been enlisted by trainer and co-owner Wesley Ward to handle unbeaten Bear Fan, seeking her first graded stakes victory in the Desert Stormer. After winning her first three starts last year by decisive margins, the California bred was sidelined with an ankle injury. She returned to action in an allowance event at Bay Meadows on May 15 to dead-heat with That's Our Tricky, keeping her unbeaten record intact. Bear Fan has earned $142,350.

Bear Fan has won her four starts by a total of 16 1/2 lengths but will be tested for class in Saturday while facing five more seasoned opponents, including 121-pound high weight Madame Pietra, winner of three successive stakes races.

Madame Pietra, with earnings of $373,135 from a 6-3-2 record in 15 starts, is more accomplished. She is unbeaten since Valenzuela took over as her jockey with victories in the Cascapedia at Santa Anita, Corona Handicap at Hollywood Park and the $250,000 Padua Sprint at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25, her most recent outing.

Howard Zucker trains the 6-year-old daughter of Roy for C. T. Grether Inc.

$200,000-added Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Rider, Wgt.
1. Shapes And Shadows, Jose Valdivia Jr., 116
2. Bartok's Blithe, Victor Espinoza, 116
3. Gotdream, Kent Desormeaux, 117
4. Rutters Renegade, Alex Solis, 116
5. a-Atlantic Ocean, Patrick Valenzuela, 121
6. Sharpbill, Matt Garcia, 116
7. Cherokee's Disco, Mark Johnston, 113
8. b-Star Vega, Mike Smith, 118
9. a-Major Idea, Corey Nakatani, 118
10. b-Lady's Mantle, Isaias Enriquez, 112
11. Quero Quero, Tyler Baze, 113
a- The Thoroughbred Corp. entry
b- Jim Ford Inc. and Deron Pearson entry

$100,000 Desert Stormer Handicap (gr. III), fillies & mares 3 & up, 6 furlongs
1. Wild Tickle, Tyler Baze, 116
2. Madame Pietra, Patrick Valenzuela, 121
3. Jetinto Houston, Mike Smith, 116
4. Palmarola, Alex Solis, 116
5. Cee's Elegance, Victor Espinoza, 120
6. Bear Fan, Curt Bourque, 116