Lava Man, unbeaten in five races this year, including victories in the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup (both gr. I), has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in Sunday's 16th running of the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar.
The Merv Griffin Ranch Co.'s champion Stevie Wonderboy worked on Monday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a condylar fracture to his left front leg in February, logging an unofficial quarter-mile over a fast track at Santa Anita.
Lava Man and Super Frolic, first and third in July 8's Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) finished their work for Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) with solid six-furlong drills Sunday morning over Del Mar's main track.
Lava Man, a former claiming horse, became the first runner since Native Diver in 1967 to win back-to-back editions of the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) when he won a heart-pounding finish by a nose Saturday over the longest shot in the field, Ace Blue.
Dynamic California-bred Lava Man, on a four-race winning streak, was assigned 124 pounds for Saturday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). But after everything the 5-year-old gelding has accomplished this year, that probably wasn't enough -- just four rivals are signed on to challenge him.
Doug O'Neill, Hollywood Park's leading trainer, will run his horses out of a detention barn for the next 30 days because one of his starters tested over the permitted level for total carbon dioxide in May.
Trainer Doug O'Neill keeps throwing bigger challenges at the multi-dimensional Lava Man, but nothing seems to faze the 5-year-old California-bred gelding. Winner of both the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in the last 11 months, Lava Man led gate to wire to register his first grade I win on the turf in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Lava Man's return to grass was such a smashing success with a Hollywood Park course-record effort in the $150,000 TVG Khaled Stakes on Sunday that the 5-year-old horse may remain on turf for his next start, trainer Doug O'Neill said Wednesday.
Santa Anita Park concluded its 86-day winter/spring meeting Sunday with double-digit gains in on-track attendance and handle.
There wasn't much speed signed up for Saturday's $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT), and jockey Corey Nakatani took full advantage to drive Sharp Lisa to a crafty front-running victory by a nose over Eternal Melody at 10 furlongs on the Santa Anita lawn.
Rail-skimming Pure as Gold slipped through an opening on the inside for jockey Patrick Valenzuela to gain the lead in mid-stretch and coasted to a 1 3/4-length upset in the $109,400 San Simeon Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Santa Anita hillside turf course Saturday.
Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Lava Man is expected to be among the starters for trainer Doug O'Neill on the Cal National Gold Rush program April 30 at Hollywood Park.
Cambiocorsa's love affair with Santa Anita's downhill turf course deepened Sunday when the 4-year-old gray filly extended her unbeaten streak over the layout to seven with a three-quarter length victory over hard-charging Lock And Key in the grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap.
Jockey Felipe Martinez put his family before his career and announced he will make his final ride on Sunday.
Front-running Cambiocorsa extended her winning streak to five in Friday's $134,125 Irish O'Brien on Santa Anita's hillside turf course, but the gray 4-year-old filly was fully extended to repel Somethinaboutlaura by a head in the St. Patrick's Day feature for California-breds.
California-bred Lava Man, ridden with extreme confidence by Corey Nakatani, shook loose of favored High Limit on the far turn and defeated upset-minded Magnum to win the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in a spectacular effort in front of nearly 50,000 fans Saturday.
Spirits were improving Wednesday at trainer Doug O'Neill's Hollywood Park stable after the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old Stevie Wonderboy underwent surgery to repair a condylar fracture of his right ankle sustained in a workout at Hollywood Park.
The grade I winner Lava Man flashed his former brilliance with a sweeping 2 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic to conclude the rich program for California and Florida-bred horses at Santa Anita Park Saturday.
A day after Brother Derek squared his record with Stevie Wonderboy at one win apiece with a gate-to-wire victory in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes (gr. II), the 3-year-old colts were on course to meet once more in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita on March 4.
The outlook is good for Dennis O'Neill, the 42-year-old brother of trainer Doug O'Neill who has non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but the experience has put life in perspective for him.
Merv Griffin's Stevie Wonderboy, this year's early Kentucky Derby (gr. I) favorite, begins the Triple Crown trail Saturday when meeting Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) champion Brother Derek and four other 3-year-olds in Santa Anita's $150,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II).
Trainer Doug O'Neill has mapped out a program that would keep Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Stevie Wonderboy in Southern California until the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 6.
Itty Bitty Pretty left the 2-5 favorite Sabatini well behind in the stretch while registering her first stakes win by six lengths in the $109,200 Santa Ysabel (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita Park Saturday.
Stevie Wonderboy, winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), worked six furlongs on Hollywood Park's fast main track Thursday in 1:12 3/5, breezing, for his 3-year-old debut in the grade II San Rafael Stakes at one mile on Jan. 14.
Racing seems to have its share of ills these days, which is why the first injection of Derby Fever is being given out earlier and earlier each year. Even taken in small doses in November, it can start the blood pumping, and what better way to brace for the long winter than by getting a brief whiff of roses or hearing even the faintest strains of "My Old Kentucky Home?"
Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (gr. I) winner Lava Man, who will try to give trainer Doug O'Neill his second victory in three years in the Japan Cup Dirt, worked six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 at Hollywood Park Saturday morning and is set to head to Japan on Tuesday.
Stevie Wonderboy, winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, will be back on the Hollywood Park track next week, trainer Doug O'Neill said Friday.
Doug O'Neill stood in the Belmont trainer's stand Sunday morning trying to figure out when to work his 2-year-olds Stevie Wonderboy and Jealous Profit for their final tuneup for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
The undefeated Estate Collection, making his stakes debut, set a lively pace for jockey Patrick Valenzuela in the Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Turfway Park Saturday but refused to give in late, winning by three-quarters of a length over 23-1 Humor At Last.
Merv Griffin's favored Stevie Wonderboy circled the field on the turn for home and overwhelmed a full field under a steady ride from Garrett Gomez in the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) on closing day at the seaside Wednesday.
One year ago trainer Dale Romans saddled 3-year-old Kitten's Joy to an impressive 3 1/4-length win in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park. This year the Kentucky-based trainer hopes to return to the winner's circle when the son of El Prado takes the gate for the Aug. 13 Arlington Million (gr. IT).
The pacesetter Whilly refused to give in when headed in the stretch by favorite King of Happiness and outlasted his rival to win the $250,000 American Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Hollywood Park turf Sunday.
Trainer Doug O'Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam are at it again. Earlier at the Hollywood Park meet, Reddam purchased Andujar privately after an impressive allowance victory, transferred her to the O'Neill stable and watched her romp to a seven-length victory in the Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) on June 4.
Former claiming horse Lava Man poked his head in front on the far turn and inched away for his first graded stakes win in the $250,000 Californian (gr. II) at Hollywood Park Saturday.
There seemed a strong likelihood of a speed duel in Saturday's $205,150 Milady Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park, but outsider Andujar never allowed it to happen, simply running the rest of the field into the ground.
Races can hardly come any closer than Monday's featured event in the Texas Million series -- the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) -- where four noses hit the wire together. After the dust had cleared, Supah Blitz was declared the winner and 11-10 favorite Lion Tamer was off the board.
The changing picture of the $350,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) may have been summarized Thursday morning in front of Barn 70, where Hall of Fame trainers Bobby Frankel and Ron McAnally operate adjacent stables.
Storm Surge heads a field of 12 3-year-olds slated for Saturday's Walmac Lone Star Derby (gr. III) at Lone Star Park. Dallas Stewart conditions the Overbrook Farm homebred who won the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) by a neck at Fair Grounds in his first start this year. The $300,000 Walmac will also be contested at nine furlongs.
California invader Supah Blitz highlights a field of six entered for Saturday's Texas Mile (gr. III) at Lone Star Park. The 5-year-old is looking to improve off his second-place finish in the 2004 edition of the race.
Shadow of Illinois, a 5-year-old California-bred gelding, won the $100,000 San Simeon Handicap (gr. IIIT) under Mark Guidry on the hillside turf course Monday to give trainer Anthony Saavedra his first-ever stakes win at Santa Anita Park and his first graded stakes win in Southern California on the closing day of the meet.
Grade I winner Sharp Lisa, a star in Southern California this spring, heads a talented field of 3-year-old fillies in Friday's $250,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles.
Sharp Lisa, who was scratched from Saturday's Ashland Stakes (gr. I) because of an injury, is scheduled to run in Friday's Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, according to her trainer, Doug O'Neill.
Grade I winner Sharp Lisa, expected to be one of the favorites, was forced to scratch from Saturday's Ashland (gr. I) at Keeneland due to a bruised hind hoof.
Stablemate Perfect Moon ensured a blazing pace and late charging Harvard Avenue took care of the rest, winning the $200,000 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) for sprinters and capping a four-stakes weekend for hot trainer Doug O'Neill.
Merv Griffin's versatile Cee's Irish, ridden by Corey Nakatani, pulled away from her rivals at the head of the stretch in winning the $259,000 WinStar Sunland Oaks Saturday in virtually gate-to-wire fashion.
Favored Supah Blitz won the $106,000 Tokyo City Handicap (gr. III) for older horses Saturday at Santa Anita Park, giving trainer Doug O'Neill his ninth stakes win of the meet and record 49th overall win.
Thor's Echo, who couldn't hold off Southern Africa when the two met the last time, turned the tables on his rival in the $500,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park Saturday.
Less than a week after breaking the Santa Anita record for wins at a meeting with his 48th victory, trainer Doug O'Neill is not resting. He'll saddle two of the six runners in Saturday's Tokyo City Handicap (gr. III) as he looks to extend his record.
Post positions were drawn for Saturday's $250,000 WinStar/Sunland Park Oaks and a group of eight fillies will test at 1-1/16 miles. The undercard of the $500,000 WinStar Derby for the colts includes California invader Cee's Irish as the most accomplished of the field, but she'll have to get past fellow West Coast shipper Pegasus Rose, and some improving local gals to snare the top prize.
A field of eight, highlighted by the first three finishers in the Borderland Derby and stakes winner Sort it Out, will take the gate for Saturday's $500,000 WinStar Derby, going 1 1/8 miles at Sunland Park.
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