Hall of Fame trainers Richard Mandella and Neil Drysdale will each be going for their fourth win in Hollywood Park's American Handicap (gr. IIT), the Southern California track's Fourth of July feature.
The $150,000 event, at 1 1/8 miles on the grass, has a glorious history dating back to 1938 when it was contested on the dirt. The American was switched to the turf in 1968. It has been won by such great stars as Kayak II, Noor, Citation, Swaps, Hillsdale, Fiddle Isle, Ack Ack, and John Henry. Trainer Charles Whittingham won it seven times, jockey Bill Shoemaker nine.
Mandella, who captured the American in 2002 and 2006 with The Tin Man and in 1989 with Mister Wonderful II, sends out Wertheimer and Frere's homebred Meteore, who is seeking his first victory since taking the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) at Del Mar last August. Drysdale, whose last American win was with Labeeb in 1996, has leading contender Riviera Cocktail in this year's renewal. The trainer's other winners of the race were Silver Wizard (1995) and Man From Eldorado (1992).
The American Handicap, which drew a field of 10, is the seventh race on Hollywood's Independence Day program and is set for a 4:05 p.m. (PDT) post.
Riviera Cocktail has yet to lose in three starts on the Hollywood turf course. His winning efforts over that surface include allowance victories at one mile and 1 1/16 miles during the current meet. Owned by a partnership that includes breeder Joseph Allen and Gallagher Equine, the 4-year-old Giant's Causeway colt most recently defeated American rival Red Door Drive by a nose with a late surge June 6.
Riviera Cocktail will be looking for his first win at the 1 1/8-mile distance and his initial victory in a graded stakes. In his most recent appearance in a graded race, Riviera Cocktail was third behind Loup Breton in the San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Jan. 24.
Tyler Baze, who was aboard for the most recent start, retains the mount on Riviera Cocktail, who figures to save ground from the rail while toting a feathery 115 pounds.
Meteore won an optional claimer over the Hollywood lawn more than a year ago. In his 4-year-old debut June 6, Meteore finished third, a half-length behind Riviera Cocktail. He has lost four times since taking the La Jolla.
The 4-year-old son of Pulpit drew post 9 and will have the services of regular rider Rafael Bejarano while also carrying 115.
The 119-pound high weight in the American is Compari, who was entered here but is also nominated to the July 10 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). Trained by Marty Jones for owner-breeders John Harris, John Nicoletti, and Don Valpredo, Compari has won five of six on turf. He suffered his first loss on the surface when a troubled seventh in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) May 31.
A 4-year-old gelded son of Redattore, the California bred has won six of eight and $442,640. He won at nine furlongs on Cushion Track, taking the $250,000 Snow Chief in the spring of 2009.
Also seeking a rebound after a sixth-place effort in the Shoemaker Mile is grade I winner Global Hunter, who will carry 118 in his second start of the year for owners Monte Pyle and L-Bo Racing. Trained by A. C. Avila, the 7-year-old Jade Hunter horse has won seven of 29 and earned $521,365.
Global Hunter's biggest win came in the 2009 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) nearly a year ago at Del Mar at the American distance.
Glowing Praise returns to California after finishing third in the Dallas Turf Cup May 31 at Lone Star Park. Trained by Eoin Harty for owner John Fretwell, the 4-year-old Fantastic Light gelding finished third in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his only prior start at Hollywood Park April 25.
Hyades ran a big second in the 1 1/4-mile Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) to Acclamation at odds of 14-1 in his graded stakes debut June 5. The 4-year-old Aldebaran colt is owned by Triple B Farms and trained by Ben Cecil, who won the 1998 American with Magellan.
Completing the field are Oil Man, Quindici Man, Red Door Drive, and Temple City .
$150,000 American Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 4:05 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Riviera Cocktail (KY), T Baze, 115, N D Drysdale
2. Compari (CA), J Talamo, 119, M F Jones
3. Hyades (KY), V Espinoza, 114, B D Cecil
4. Glowing Praise (GB), D R Flores, 115, E G Harty
5. Global Hunter (ARG), B Blanc, 118, A C Avila
6. Quindici Man (KY), C Santiago Reyes, 114, C A Lewis
7. Temple City (KY), A Quinonez, 113, C Gaines
8. Red Door Drive (KY), M A Pedroza, 114, B Baffert
9. Meteore (KY), R Bejarano, 115, R E Mandella
10. Oil Man (IRE), J Rosario, 115, J W Sadler