Front-running The Tin Man is the 123-pound high weight for the $400,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at 1 1/2 mile at Hollywood Park Saturday.
"He likes to be in front, but he doesn't have to be," said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella Wednesday from Santa Anita before sending the 5-year-old gelding across town. "He just breezed an easy half in :50 and change this morning."
The Tin Man, a son of Affirmed, has won seven of 14 starts and earned $783,620 for owner-breeders Ralph and Aury Todd of Santa Ynez. A Jim Murray victory would put him over the $1-million mark.
"He's doing real good," said Mandella of The Tin Man, making his first start since winning the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita turf Feb. 15. "We were going to run him back in the San Luis Rey Stakes (gr. IIT) in March, but he got a little sick on me before then."
The Tin Man, winner of the American Handicap on the grass here last Fourth of July, did not race until he was 3.
"When he was a 2-year-old, he bowed both tendons, and we did tendon surgery," explained Mandella, who seeks his third Jim Murray victory in five years. He won the race with Lazy Lode in 1999 and Kudos in 2001. Kudos is being pointed to the $400,000 Californian (gr. II) June 14.
Jockey Jerry Bailey and trainer Bobby Frankel team with Denon in the Murray. Frankel, who has won six of 13 previous runnings of the race, will also start Chiselling. Both grade I winners will make their first starts of 2003. Frankel planned to only run Chiselling and wait for a later race with Denon, said he changed his mind.
Kim Loves Bucky, winner of his second consecutive Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland April 23, arrived Wednesday from Kentucky for trainer John Glenney.
Murano worked a half mile in :48.60 on the main track here for trainer Julio Canani.
Night Life drilled four furlongs in :49 at Santa Anita for trainer Kristin Mulhall.
Ballingarry is scheduled to arrive Thursday from the San Luis Rey Downs base of trainer Laura de Seroux.
The Jim Murray, named in memory of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times sports columnist, has been increased substantially in value from a $75,000-added purse. It headlines a stakes tripleheader that also includes the $200,000 Los Angeles Times Handicap at six furlongs and the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.