Sunday, May 26, 1996

By Vince Bruun

A formidable and well-balanced field of handicap runners is expected to contest next Sunday's $250,000 Californian at 1 1/8 miles.

The Grade I event is the final major local steppingstone to the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup on Sunday, June 30, and horses who perform well in The Californian are likely to return in four weeks to take on Cigar in the Gold Cup. The Californian is expected to attract: Three Grade I winners -- Helmsman, Mr Purple and Tinners Way. Three horses who have won a race worth at least $500,000 -- Helmsman, Mr Purple and Tinners Way Six horses with earnings of at least $400,000 -- Tinners Way ($1,695,012), Mr Purple ($1,103,142), Del Mar Dennis ($991,975), Helmsman ($748,249) Patio de Naranjos ($457,476) and Siphon ($417,619). And, with the excpetion of Tinners Way, every probable starter either won or finished second in his most recent start.

In other developments:
Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Luthier Fever is scheduled to work Monday at Santa Anita, and a good drill may prompt trainer Ted West to enter the Cal-bred in the Californian. Score Quick worked five furlongs Sunday in :59 2/5 but won't run in The Californian. Trainer Mel Stute said the Northern Score colt will ship to Golden Gate for the Oakland Handicap on Saturday.

And The Exeter Man also will bypass The Californian, trainer Bobby Frankel said. "He won't run (in The Californian), but we'll find a race for him," Frankel said Probables for the 43rd running of The Californian, 1 1/8 miles: Del Mar Dennis, Alex Solis; Helmsman, Chris McCarron; Mr Purple, Corey Nakatani; Patio de Naranjos, Rene Douglas; Siphon, Kent Desormeaux and Tinners Way, Eddie Delahoussaye. Possible: Luthier Fever, Brice Blanc.

Halo Farms and Jerry Hollendorfer's Afleetaffair returns to Southern California Saturday for the $100,000-added Harry Henson Stakes for 3-year-olds. Hollendorfer, the perennial leading trainer in Northern California, shipped Afleetaffair to Santa Anita in February to win the Grade III San Vicente Stakes by a nose over Honour and Glory.

A subsequent road trip fizzled, including a dismal 11th-place finish in the Grade II Lexington Stakes April 21 at Keeneland. Hollendorfer reportedly has been pleased with the colt's training back at Golden Gate Fields and will have the services of Nakatani in the Henson. Nakatani has been aboard for two of Afleetaffair's four wins, the San Vicente and the $55,000 Jim Hill on the turf at the Hollywood Autumn Meeting.

Probables for the 45th running of the $100,000-added Harry Henson Stakes,7 1/2 furlongs: Afleetaffair, Corey Nakatani; Argonnier, no rider; Hesabull, Eddie Delahoussaye; Regal Rhythm, Corey Black; Slews Royal Son, no rider, and Tiger Talk, no rider.

Monday's special Memorial Day card is highlighted by the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Handicap (Gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles on turf. The simulcast is the $400,000-guaranteed Metropolitan Handicap from Belmont Park. The mile race features Hollywood Park-based shipper Afternoon Deelites.

In addition, free Hollywood Park beach towels will be given away free to all paid admissions.

A. P. Assay, a 2-year-old first time starter by A. P. Indy, made an auspicious debut in Saturday's second race with an easy gate to wire victory in :50 4/5 for 4 1/2 furlongs. It was the first victory for the freshman sire. A. P. Assay, breaking from the inside post, sprinted clear early, set splits of:21 3/5 and :44 3/5 while controlling the pace, and drew off under a hand ride from Alex Solis. She hit the wire six lengths in front of runner-up Merry Krisoke. The victory had been preceded by a series of fast drills that didn't escape the public's notice. A. P. Assay paid $4.40.

"We knew she could run," Gonzalez said of A. P. Assay. "But I was a little nervous before the race. She was down inside and she had to wait (in the starting gate). I wasn't surprised by her race. She's a nice filly." A. P. Assay is a McCaffery/Toffan homebred out of the Clever Trick mare Nice Assay, who won seven races and $409,620 in the owners' yellow and silver silks. Nice Assay, currently in foal to Seattle Sleet, was among the first group of six yearlings that McCaffery and Toffan purchased in 1989. Gonzalez said the group also included multiple stakes winner Visible Gold and Mane Minister, who in 1991 became the first horse to finish third in all three legs of the Triple Crown. As for A. P. Assay, Gonzalez said the logical next step is the $100,000-added Landaluce Stakes (Gr. II) on Saturday, July 6.

Congratulations to Zane and Sandy Baze, who became parents Sunday morning when Sandy gave birth to 2-pound, 13-ounce Canyon Anthony Baze at Arcadia Methodist Hospital. The baby, born two months premature, and her mother were doing well, according to Sandy, but Canyon was expected to spend the next two months in the hospital. Zane Baze works on the starting gate crew at Hollywood Park, Santa Anita and Del Mar, and Sandy is the publicity department secretary at Santa Anita.

FINISH LINES: The Key Rainbow blew out three furlongs in :37 4/5 for Monday's $500,000 Hollywood Turf Handicap . . . Paying Dues has been assigned highweight of 120 pounds for Saturday's $100,000 Oakland Handicap at Golden Gate Fields. The 4-year-old son of Cure the Blues drilled five furlongs Sunday in :59 4/5 with Paul Toscano up for trainer Cliff Sise Jr. . . . Chris Antley begins a five-day suspension Wednesday but will be allowed to ride Paying Dues in the Oakland because it's a designated race . . . Rene Douglas returns to Miami Saturday to ride Seacliff in the $100,000 Carry Back Stakes at Calder Race Course . . . Phil Gleaves saddled his first two Hollywood Park winners Saturday: Red Hills ($8.60) in the fifth frace and Truth Of It All ($32.20) in the seventh race . . . Soul Of The Matter breezed six furlongs in 1:12 Saturday and continues on course toward the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup (Gr. I ) on June 30 . . . Twice The Vice drilled seven furlongs Saturday in 1:30 in a prep for the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (Gr. I) on June 23 . . . Del Mar Dennis worked six furlongs Saturday in 1:12 2/5 on in a prep for next Sunday's $250,000 Californian (Gr. I). . .. . . Trainer Howard Zucker continued his hot streak when he saddled first-time starter Bold As Beau ($11.40) for a four-length victory in Saturday's fourth race. Zucker has now won with four-of-five starters at the meet . . . Laffit Pincay's two winners Friday upped his career victory total to 8,428.

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