Friday, May 24, 1996

By Vince Bruun

Charles Cella's Northern Spur is on edge for a big effort in Monday's $500,000 Hollywood Turf Handicap (Gr. I), trainer Ron McAnally said Friday. "He's acting great, he's training well and he had a very good work with Chris McCarron up the other day," the trainer said. "It looks like he's up to it."

The 1 1/4-mile Turf Handicap will be the centerpiece of a holiday stakes triple-header that also includes the $75,000-added Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies bred in California and the $50,000-added Westchester Stakes for 2-year-olds. Northern Spur has raced only six times in 10 months, but the 5-year-old Irish-bred by Sadler's Wells has made the most of his opportunities. He's picked up three wins -- including Grade I triumphs in the Oak Tree Invitational and the Breeders' Cup Turf -- and the Eclipse Award as champion grass horse.

Efforts to get Northern Spur ready for his 1996 campaign have frustrated McAnally. The horse got sick prior to the Pan American Handicap in Florida, classified allowance races didn't fill, etc . . . "Its been a lot of little things," McAnally said. "But we got that race in him(May 1), and that was important." In the May 1 allowance race, Northern Spur was rated two lengths off Wavy Run and then finished strongly to win by a length in 1:39 1/5 for 1 1/16 miles. In other developments: Neil Drysdale said Hollywood Derby winner Labeeb will not run in the Turf Handicap. The trainer insisted Labeeb is fine physically and said the colt simply needs more time between races. "It was a fast first race for him," Drysdale said of Labeeb's May 12 allowance comebacker, in which he ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:46 3/5 while winning off by 2 1/4 lengths. "We were concerned about him coming back in two weeks after having the whole winter off."

Drysdale wouldn't reveal what's next for Labeeb, except to say that all plans are "tentative." The $150,000-added American Handicap (Gr. II) on July 4 might be a possibility, he said, and could be used as a springboard to the Arlington Million (Gr. I) on Aug. 25. With Labeeb out of the lineup, trainer Ben Cecil jumped at the opportunity to pick up Eddie Delahoussaye to ride Petit Poucet. Petit Poucet worked a half-mile in :47 1/5, handily, on the main track. Here are the probables for the 28th running of the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Handicap: Northern Spur, Chris McCarron, 123; Sandpit, Corey Nakatani, 120; Awad, Pat Day, 118; Petit Poucet, Eddie Delahoussaye, 116; Earl Of Barking, Gary Stevens, 116, and The Key Rainbow, Alex Solis, 113. Possible: Wavy Run, no rider, 114.

Juddmonte Farms' Tinners Way will begin his 1996 campaign in the $250,000 Californian (Gr. I) on Sunday, June 2. Tinners Way, a 6-year-old son of Secretariat, has won the last two runnings of the $1-million Pacific Classic at Del Mar and began his '95 campaign with a third-place finish in The Californian. Tinners Way tipped his readiness by working seven furlongs Friday in a bullet 1:24 under Eddie Delahoussaye. "He worked great this morning," Delahoussaye said. "He relaxed really well, and he really picked it up in the stretch. It felt like the same old Tinners Way." Tinners Way (24-6-6-4-$1,695,012) hasn't raced since finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 28. The time off has allowed a minor knee injury to heal and also sets up a timetable that affords the opportunity to repeat last year's successes, which included, in progression, a third in The Californian, a second in the Hollywood Gold Cup and a 4 1/2-length triumph over Soul Of The Matter in the Pacific Classic. Early probables for the 43rd running of The Californian, a Grade I event at 1 1/8 miles on the main track: Del Mar Dennis, Alex Solis; Helmsman, Chris McCarron; Mr Purple, Corey Nakatani; Score Quick, no rider; Siphon, Kent Desormeaux, and Tinners Way, Eddie Delahoussaye. Possible: The Exeter Man, no rider, and Patio de Naranjos, no rider.

Tinners Way and Mr Purple have been very very good to Eddie Delahoussaye. He's won two $1-million Pacific Classics on the former and the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap on the latter.

But with Hall of Fame trainers Bobby Frankel (Tinners Way) and Ron McAnally (Mr Purple) both pointing their respective charges to the $250,000 Californian (Gr. I) on Sunday, June 2, Delahoussaye was forced to make a choice. His decision: Tinners Way. "They both have a chance, and it isn't easy to take off Mr Purple, but I want to ride Tinners Way," Delahoussaye said. "I ride a lot for Bobby, we've had a lot of success and (Tinners Way) is a good horse."

Delahoussaye can't recall having to choose between two horses on which he had won million-dollar races. "I do remember the (1993) Breeders' Cup (Sprint) when I picked Cardmania over Thirty Slews, and believe me, that wasn't an easy choice," he said. Cardmania, far back early, rallied to beat Meafara at the wire while defending champion Thirty Slews finished fourth. "It worked out that time, but it can just as easily go the other way," Delahoussaye said.

As for Mr Purple, McAnally isn't exactly left high and dry as Corey Nakatani, the defending Hollywood Park riding champion, will take over the mount. Nakatani is quite familiar with the Deputy Minister colt, too, having ridden him to a victory in last year's Affirmed Handicap (Gr. III).

Jan, Mace and Samantha Siegel's Tiger Talk will race for the first time in two months when he heads the field for the $100,000-added Harry Henson Stakes on Saturday, June 1. Tiger Talk, a speedy son of Phone Trick, has three firsts and one second from four career starts. His lone defeat was a half-length decision to Romano Gucci in the Grade II Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 30. But Tiger Talk didn't go down without a fight. In fact, trainer Ron Ellis said the colt tried so hard he came out of the race extremely tired. "It knocked him out," said Ellis, who had considered running Tiger Talk in the $65,000-added Little Reb on May 13 before deciding to wait for the Henson. "It snowed the day before the Gotham, and they scraped the track. It was muddy and I don't think he cared for it. He ran down on all four legs and that gave me an an indication he wasn't handling it."

Ellis said Tiger Talk has remained in training, but was also given a chance to regroup.

"He's bounced back," the trainer said. "He worked a good seven-eighths (Thursday in 1:26)." Early probables for the 45th running of the $100,000-added Harry Henson Stakes, to be decided at 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.

Champion Julio Cesar Chavez makes his final Los Angeles appearance Saturday at Hollywood Park as he spars in preparation for his 100th career fight -- a June 7 WBC super lightweight title bout against Oscar De La Hoya. Chavez, 33, will spar several rounds in front of the Hollywood fans from approximately 11:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. Hollywood Park is a closed-circuit venue for the June 7 fight. Tickets $40 and $45 are available at the track.

Hollywood Park will present simulcast wagering on four out-of-town stakesraces over the Memorial Day weekend: Saturday's simulcast is the $100,000-guaranteed Sheridan Stakes from Arlington Park. The Grade III event is for 3-year-olds at one mile. Sunday features a simulcast doubleheader, the $150,000 Peter Pan Stakes (featuring Unbridled's Song) from Belmont Park and the $200,000 Washington Park Handicap from Arlington Park. Monday's simulcast is the $400,000-guaranteed Metropolitan Handicap from Belmont Park. The one mile race features Hollywood Park-based shipper Afternoon Deelites.

FINISH LINES: : Exotic Wood worked seven furlongs in 1:25 3/5 and trainer Ron Ellis said the Rahy filly will ship to New York for the $100,000-added Genuine Risk Handicap (Gr. II) June 1 at Belmont Park . . . Florida-based Chaposa Springs also is expected to run in the Genuine Risk with Laffit Pincay Jr. again in the saddle . . . Agent Ron Anderson reported Gary Stevens has the call aboard Key Of Luck in the June 1 $250,000 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs. Horse of the Year Cigar headlines the 1 1/8-mile race . . . Trainer Paco Gonzalez said Del Mar Dennis will work six furlongs Saturday in a prep for the $250,000 Californian (Gr. I) on June 2 . . . Trainer Richard Mandella said Afternoon Deelites has arrived safely in New York for Monday's $400,000-guaranteed Metropolitan Handicap . . . Mandella also said Soul Of The Matter remains on course for the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30 . . . Santa Barbara Handicap winner Auriette drilled six panels in a bullet 1:10 3/5 in a prep for the $200,000-added Gamely Handicap (Gr. I) on June 9.

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