Gary Tanaka's Sarafan has defeated top-ranked Beat Hollow twice in three meetings, but the Neil Drysdale trainee seems to be getting short shrift from the media.
Beat Hollow is rated as the top turf male in the country by most experts, and Sarafan lags along in the top 10.
Sarafan, a 5-year-old gelding by Lear Fan, hopes to add to his resume and gain some respect when he faces seven rivals in Sunday's $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles. He won the Eddie Read (gr. IT) at Del Mar and the Explosive Bid (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds, both at 1 1/8 miles, this year. He missed by a head in the Arlington Million (gr. I) at 1 1/4 mile.
Because Sarafan's best distance, about nine to 10 furlongs, is in between the Breeders' Cup turf races of a mile and and 1 1/2 miles, he's not being expected to join his rival at Arlington Park Oct. 26 for the World Thoroughbred Championships.
"We think he's as good as Beat Hollow," said John O'Donoghue, Drysdale's assistant trainer. "Everybody says he was lucky (to win the Eddie Read) at Del Mar, but then in the (Arlington) Million, he was right there with him (beaten only a head at equal weights of 126 pounds). Beat Hollow had a better trip than we did that day. I think they're right there with each other."
O'Donoghue said Sarafan would ship from Hollywood Park to Santa Anita on Saturday.
Richard Mandella said The Tin Man "is a tough horse and is in good shape" for the Hirsch, coming off a neck defeat by Delta Form in the Sept. 1 Del Mar Handicap.
"He's only had one bad race, the Shoemaker Mile," Mandella said. "I still haven't figured out why he didn't run good. But other than that, he's never run a bad race."
The 4-year-old gelded son of Affirmed has five wins, two seconds and a third from 10 starts.
World traveler Hawkeye was scheduled to arrive Friday afternoon at Santa Anita for his engagement in the Hirsch.
The 4-year-old Irish-bred son of Danehill finished ninth, beaten 10 lengths, in his United States debut in Saratoga's Sword Dancer Handicap (gr. IT) on Aug. 10, but had two excuses, bobbling at the start and steadying in the race.
Hawkeye has raced in the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong, France and Ireland during his career.
Hawkeye, also owned by Tanaka and trained by Michael Jarvis, is scheduled to gallop Saturday morning. $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship (gr. 1T), 1 1/4 mile, 3 & up
1. Sarafan, Corey Nakatani
2. Hawkeye, Gary Stevens
3. The Tin Man, Mike Smith
4. Blue Steller, Patrick Valenzuela
5. Mister Kybelee, David Flores
6. Skipping, Alex Solis
7. Nazirali, Brice Blanc
8. Night Patrol, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
All carry 124 pounds.