Wednesday, May 15, 1996

By Vince Bruun

Jockey Rene Douglas has picked up the riding assignment aboard Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier's Victory Speech in Saturday's 121st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, which will be simulcast between the second and third races. Agent Tony Matos said trainer D. Wayne Lukas contacted him Wednesday morning to inquire about Douglas' availability. "Wayne called and asked if Rene would be interested in riding Victory Speech," Matos said. "I talked to Rene and he was very excited to have the chance. When I talked to Wayne later in the day I told him, `Rene wants to ride (Victory Speech). He's coming to Baltimore.''' Victory Speech (10-4-1-4-$176,162) finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby with Jose Santos up. Douglas, 29, began the week tied for fifth in the Hollywood jockeys' standings with nine wins. He finished fifth at the Santa Anita winter/spring meet with 59 wins. Douglas joins Chris McCarron (Cavonnier) and Gary Stevens (Editor's Note) on the list of local riders with mounts in the Preakness.

Burt Bacharach's multiple graded stakes winner Afternoon Deelites blazed seven furlongs in 1:22 2/5 Tuesday morning with Kent Desormeaux up in a drill for the $400,000 Metropolitan Mile Handicap (Gr. I) on Monday, May 27, at Belmont Park. Trainer Richard Mandella said the work was fast but under control. "He went great," Mandella said. "I don't think he's ever been better than he is right now." Afternoon Deelites ships to New York on May 23.

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel will attempt to win an unprecedented fourth straight Wilshire Handicap Saturday when he sends out Juddmonte Farms' Didina in the 35th running of the Grade II event at 1 1/16 miles on the turf course. Didina -- two-for-two on the local turf course -- will attempt to join Skimble (1994) and Toussaud (1993) as Frankel-trained/Juddmonte-owned distaffers to win the Wilshire. Last year, Frankel sent out Blue Vista Inc.'s Eclipse Award-winning Possibly Perfect for a 1 3/4-length victory over Lady Affirmed. Wilshire contender Real Connection, a one-eyed Vigors mare trained by Mel Stute, blew out three furlongs Wednesday in :35 3/5. Probables for the Wilshire Handicap, to be run Saturday at 1 1/16 miles on the turf course: Matiara, Kent Desormeaux, 120; Pharma, Corey Nakatani, 118; Didina, Eddie Delahoussaye, 116; Artica, Corey Black, 114; and Real Connection, no rider, 113. Possible: Se Souvenir, no rider, 122, and Dusty Girl, no rider, 111.

Maktoum Al Maktoum's Labeeb is listed as probable by trainer Neil Drysdale for the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Handicap on Monday, May 27. The impressively built son of Lear Fan toyed with four rivals in a $54,000 allowance event Sunday, winning the 1 1/8-mile turf event in 1:46 3/5 under a confident ride by Eddie Delahoussaye. It was Labeeb's first start since Nov. 25, when he beat Helmsmann in the Grade I Hollywood Derby. "We're very pleased with the way (Labeeb) ran," Drysdale said. "Right now, our plan would be to run (in the Turf Handicap)."

Chris McCarron, who rides Cavonnier in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, will be out of town until Sunday, when he returns to ride Boulderdash Bay in the $100,000-added Thirty Slews Handicap. McCarron planned to visit family in the Boston area through Thursday, ride Friday and Saturday at Pimlico, and return home in time to ride Sunday at Hollywood Park. Stevens leaves Thursday night for Baltimore, rides Friday and Saturday at Pimlico, and will also return in time to ride Concept Win in Sunday's Thirty Slews.

Marty Jones saddled his first winner as a trainer Monday -- Made Of Jade ($25) in the fourth race -- and as luck would have it, the horse was owned by his father, former trainer Gary Jones. "I didn't care where I got it or when I got it, I just wanted to get the monkey off my back," Marty said Wednesday. It wasn't as if the younger Jones, 25, had been slump-ridden. He accomplished his first victory with only his sixth starter as a trainer; four at Hollywood, two at Golden Gate. Gary Stevens, who was aboard Ski Dancer for Gary Jones' final victory as a trainer on April 22, also rode Made Of Jade for Marty's first win. Stevens placed the 5-year-old Jade Hunter mare on the lead and they never looked back en route to a 1 1/4-length triumph in the $27,000 starter allowance. The elder Jones, now retired and living in Del Mar, watched the race at the Del Mar satellite facility. "I talked to my dad by phone after the race and he was just really happy," Marty said. "I can't remember what I said or what he said, I was still freaked out by the win." Gary Jones assumed ownership of Made Of Jade from Bruce McNall, the ex-owner of the Los Angeles Kings.

Danjur has made it to California, but probably not for long. Trainer Neil Drysdale said the undefeated son of Dayjur is likely to bypass the $100,000-added Thirty Slews Handicap and instead ship to New York for Sunday's $75,000-added Jaipur Handicap (Gr. III) at Belmont Park. Drysdale said two factors might tilt the scale toward the Jaipur: the longer seven-furlong distance and the fact the race is graded. Danjur, three-for-three lifetime, raced most recently in the $88,000 Churchill Downs Turf Sprint, setting a five-furlong track record of :56 while winning by two lengths. Probables for the ninth running of the Thirty Slews to be run Sunday at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf course: Cyrano Storme, Rene Douglas, 119; Boulderdash Bay, Chris McCarron, 118; Concept Win, Gary Stevens, 118; ; Cominalittlehot, Corey Nakatani, 117; Daggett Peak, no rider, 115; Score Quick, no rider, 115; O'Martin, no rider, 115, and High Charger, Alex Solis, 113. Possible: Danjur, Eddie Delahoussaye, 117, and Gundaghia, Martin Pedroza, 114.

A reunion of the Los Angeles Rams' NFL championship team of 1951 and other NFL greats of the past is being planned for Saturday, June 22, at Hollywood Park's Ascot Room. Among those planning to attend are the Rams' Bull Elephant Backfield of Deacon Don Towler, Tank Younger and Dick Horner. Towler, who serves as president of the NFL Alumni Association, has indicated that Ollie Matson, Bob Boyd, Harry Thompson and George Strugar are among those who have already accepted invitations. Towler is hopeful that as many as 100 NFL alums will be on hand for the afternoon of racing at The Track of Lakes and Flowers.

FINISH LINES: Trainer Marty Jones said Ski Dancer will ship to New York to run in the $150,000 Just A Game Breeders' Cup Handicap (Gr. II) on June 9 . . . Victor Espinoza was ready to begin riding regularly at Hollywood Park. Espinoza, who tacks 113 pounds, was named on one horse Wednesday and three on Thursday. Borodislew drilled one mile in 1:43 on a fast main track in a prep for $100,000-added Hawthorne Handicap (Gr. II) on Saturday, May 25 . . . Jewel Princess, also headed to the Hawthorne, worked four furlongs in :49 2/5 . . .Windsharp worked a half-mile in :50 2/5 Tuesday and trainer Wally Dollase said the Lear Fan mare will be cranked up for the $200,000-added Milady Handicap (Gr. I) on June 23. The 1 1/16-mile Milady also is expected to feature Twice The Vice . . . Siphon worked four furlongs in :49, handily in company, and remains on course for the $250,000 Californian (Gr. I) on Sunday, June 2. "It was just a nice and easy half," trainer Richard Mandella said of his latest stakes star . . . Trainer Sam Scolamieri celebrated his 45th birthday Monday . . . Trainer J. R. McCutcheon -- a.k.a. "The Coach" -- turns 72 on Friday.

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