Takarian, overmatched a year ago, came from slightly off the pace under jockey Garrett Gomez to win the $150,000 American Handicap for the second time in three years on Wednesday afternoon at Hollywood Park.Takarian, who went off at 14-1 in an entry with Rapour, gained the lead from favorite and surprise pacesetter Touch of the Blues at the top of the stretch and went on to win by one length over 10-1 shot Fighting Falcon and jockey Goncalino Almeida.Fateful Dream was another length back in third under jockey David Flores, followed by National Anthem and Touch of the Blues, who tired to finish fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the field of seven.Takarian, who provided trainer Beau Greely with his first graded stakes victory when he won the 1999 running at odds of 31-1, covered the 1 1/8 miles over the Lakeside Turf Course in 1:48 under 114 pounds.Payoffs on the entry were $30.40, $13.20 and $5.40. Fighting Falcon returned $11.60 and $6.20, while the show payoff on Fateful Dream was $4.60.Takarian, a 6-year-old Irish-bred, was only starting for the third time this year and for the first time since finishing fourth in the Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap on Feb. 3."He had an entrapped epiglottis, so I gave him time and we did a little laser throat surgery," Greely said. "He loves Hollywood - he runs well here - and we decided to just prep him for this race. He's been training beautifully for it. He's never really run a bad race on this track."Takarian, a winner of six of 32 lifetime starts, banked $90,000 Wednesday to raise his earnings to $524,857.
"I remember winning this race on him two or three years ago," Gomez said. "I've been riding other horses of Beau's, but I'd been working this colt, and he had been working real well. I thought he might run a decent race today, so I opted to ride this colt over the other one (Raypour). I made the right decision, I guess. He ran an absolutely perfect race for me."While things went perfectly for Gomez, Smith did not plan to be on the lead with the favorite."Did I just find myself on the lead? Totally. I mean, I didn't want to be up there," Smith said. "But he has laid close off a pretty fast pace going short before. Man, he just shot out of there today. He was two lengths in front of the field the first two jumps out of the gate. I was just stuck, and it wasn't as if we were going fast. I'd have had to break him in half to think about getting behind even one horse. That wasn't going to be good either. So we just had to play it the way it came up. Unfortunately, it just wasn't his style."Meanwhile, Hollywood Park's $691,095 Pick Six carryover generated an additional $2,895,885 Wednesday for a total pool of $3,586,980. There were 40 perfect tickets, good for a $57,728.40 payoff. Five winners netted $300.60.