Disturbingthepeace, the solid winner of the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II), pursues his sixth straight victory Sunday in the seven furlong $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap (gr. II).
The 4-year-old son of Bold Badgett, owned by David and Rita Milch, began his streak at Santa Anita in an allowance race March 20. He captured a second allowance race at Santa Anita and an optional claiming race at Hollywood Park before taking on graded-stakes competition.
While Disturbingthepeace won the Triple Bend Handicap (gr. II) nearly gate-to-wire, trainer Darrell Vienna said he doesn't need the lead to win.
"He's not a horse that you have to find a special kind of race for," Vienna said. "I can see him sitting anywhere in the race."
The gelding's style is more suited to stalking the leaders before making a strong closing move. Victor Espinoza retains the mount after his two graded-stakes victories.
A field of five is expected for the O'Brien, with Mellow Fellow the only contestant from the Bing Crosby. The others expected are Blu Air Force, I Love Silver, and Komax.
Bill Spawr, who trains Mellow Fellow for Sid and Jenny Craig, is expecting a big effort from the 7-year-old that the Craigs bought in the spring. He hopes, however, to avoid drawing the rail.
"He won't run from the rail; he won't extend himself from there," Spawr said.
Mellow Fellow has finished third in his two starts for the Craigs, both times behind Disturbingthepeace. His last time out he broke from the rail in the Bing Crosby and started from post position three in the Triple Bend.
Wildenstein Stable's Blu Air Force, trained by Robert Frankel, finished fourth in the Triple Bend, his most recent outing. Frankel's assistant, Humberto Ascanio, hopes the 5-year-old horse went to school in that race and will handle the dirt better this time.
"Kent [Desormeaux] thought he had a big shot in that race," Ascanio said. "The field started to spread out as they turned for home and Kent guided the horse toward the rail, but when he started getting dirt in his face, he shied and fell back a little. When he got clear again, he came running."
Blu Air Force missed third by a nose to Mellow Fellow. It was only the second time on the dirt for the horse, the previous time coming in March 2001 when he ran in the Godolphin Mile in Dubai.