Friday, June 21, 1996

By Mark Midland

Handicap star Geri, who will be flown in from his East Coast base on Wednesday for next Sunday's $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup (Gr. I), had a workout postponed Friday because of an off-track at Belmont Park.

The Allen E. Paulson-colorbearer won six straight races, including the Grade I Oaklawn Handicap (Gr. I), prior to finishing third most recently on a muddy track in the Pimlico Special (Gr. I).

Chances are trainer Bill Mott won't have to worry about an off-track in California.

"Hopefully, he'll be doing better than at Pimlico, he indicated he doesn't like it (mud)," Mott said. "He missed a work because of rain, the track has been off the past day or two. He will work once before he comes (to Hollywood Park)."

Geri, a son of Theatrical, began his career on the West Coast, breaking his maiden in April of 1995 at Santa Anita while trained by Bill Shoemaker. He won an allowance race at Hollywood Park in June of 1995, before being transferred to Paulson's East Coast contingent. He began 1996 by winning four straight races, including the Oaklawn Handicap and the Grade III Creme Fraiche Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Geri, who has earned $653,250 from six wins, a second and two thirds in nine starts, is ranked third in The National Thoroughbred Poll. Stablemate Cigar is first, while fellow Gold Cup starter Soul Of The Matter holds down second spot -- setting up a showdown in the second leg of the MGM Grand Classic Crown.

There are six horses from the handicap division among the National Top 10, and the Gold Cup will feature three -- Soul Of The Matter, Geri and two-time Pacific Classic champion Tinners Way.

In other developments:

Tinners Way worked seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5 Friday morning in his next to last Gold Gup work. "He went absolutely super," assistant trainer Dan Ward said.

Trainer Ted West listed Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Luthier Fever as doubtful for the Gold Cup following a one-mile drill in 1:44 1/5 at Santa Anita on Friday morning. "We put him to the test today and he didn't work that sharp," he said. "We're probably going to pass."

Probables for the 57th running of the Hollywood Gold Cup to be run at 1 1/4 miles on the main track, second leg in the MGM Grand Classic Crown: Dare And Go, Alex Solis; Helmsman, Chris McCarron; Mr Purple,* no rider; Siphon, David Flores; Soul Of The Matter, Corey Nakatani; Tinners Way, Eddie Delahoussaye, and Geri, Jerry Bailey.

* Eligible for the $2-million MGM Grand Classic Crown bonus.

Alex G. Campbell's Mr Purple's upset victory in the Santa Anita Handicap leaves him one-third of the way to the $2-million MGM Classic Crown Bonus. The bonus, which awards a horse sweeping the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap, the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup and the $1-million Pacific Classic, was originally proposed by the Thoroughbred Owners of California as an incentive for the series.

In addition to the $2-million bonus, MGM Grand Hotel/Casino of Las Vegas will also pay a $500,000 Participation Bonus, which will be distributed among the top point earners, and a $100,000 jockey bonus for a sweep of all three races on the same horse. To be eligible for the bonus, a horse must start in all three races.

With four consecutive stakes wins last summer, Borodislew was certainly the No. 1 seed from the West when she challenged the nation's best fillies and mares in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Distaff, finishing eighth as the 12-1 fourth choice.

Sunday, Borodislew will attempt stake her claim once again as the top distaffer on the West Coast in the fiercely competitive Milady Handicap (Gr. I), but trainer John Shirreffs is just glad to see her on the racetrack. This spring, the daughter of Seattle Slew was nearly retired after a poor effort in her seasonal debut.

"After the Breeders' Cup, she was a little sore with her heels pounded down in back," Shirreffs said. "When we brought her back this spring, the question was how she would respond to the bar shoes. We weren't really sure until after the first race, when she came out of it in good shape."

Borodislew now trains in bar shoes in behind, but races in regular shoes. "She pounds her heels down and the bar shoes protect her," he explained.

The 6-year-old mare rebounded capturing the restricted Santa Lucia at Santa Anita, and delivered a game effort winning the Hawthorne Handicap (Gr. II) on May 25.

"I was impressed with all three in the Hawthorne," Shirreffs said. "Only three-quarters of a length separated all of them. When Borodislew went by Urbane, she dug in gamely and headed Borodislew momentarily. And Jewel Princess ran real strong from the quarter to the wire."

With an evenly matched group in the Milady, Shirreffs believes the pace could have a significant effect on the outcome.

"If there's a possible upsetter, I think it could be Urbane because maybe nobody will go with her," he said. "The only one who went with her last time (in the Hawthorne) was Klassy Kim, and we know how fast she is. With the short field they shouldn't be too strung out, but they all have to stay within striking distance of Urbane or she's going to gallop."

In other developments:

Top Rung was a last minute entrant into the Milady field, but is still not a definite starter, according to trainer Willard Proctor. "She's no cinch to run," Proctor said. "It's a tough race, so we'll look at the post positions and make a decision."

The field in post position order from the rail out for the 45th running of the Milady Handicap, to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track,: Twice The Vice, Chris McCarron, 120; Borodislew, Eddie Delahoussaye, 119; Urbane, Alex Solis, 117; Top Rung, David Flores, 114; Jewel Princess, Corey Nakatani, 120.

Moving one's training operation from Florida to Southern California can be a significant change, but it hasn't taken trainer Phil Gleaves long to adjust to the toughest racing circuit in the country.

"It took me a while to get used to things out here," said Gleaves, who failed to hit the winner's circle with six starters at Santa Anita before saddled four winners, three seconds and three thirds from 12 starters at the Hollywood meet. "I like it a lot out here and hope to stay for a long time."

Gleaves, a 38-year-old native of Liverpool, England, will be looking for his first Southern California stakes win as he sends recent acquisition Bevidere to post in Saturday's $65,000-added Jim Murray Handicap.

"We acquired him privately before his last race and I'm very happy with the way he ran in that one," said the former Woody Stephens assistant. "The mile-and-a-half is a question mark, but he fits very well with these horses."

Starters for the Jim Murray Handicap, in post position order from the rail out: Opera Score, scratched; Hidden Source, Kent Desormeaux, 114; Bedivere, Chris Antley, 114; Shrewd Idea, Alex Solis, 117; Polish Admiral, Brice Blanc, 117; Patio De Naranjos, Rene Douglas, 118; Big Sky Jim, Eddie Delahoussaye, 115.

Hollywood Park will feature four simulcasts this weekend, headlined by the clash between Northern Spur and Sandpit in the $500,000 Caesars' International Handicap (Gr. I) from Atlantic City Racecourse.

Sandpit comes into the Caesars International off a victory Hollywood Turf Handicap (Gr. I), whereas last year he had to redeemed himself after a tough second in the same race. "It's a tough spot, but it was a tough spot last year," said assistant trainer Gary Mandella. "Everything went right for him."

The Atlantic City turf course was listed as yielding on Friday, and the forecast indicates a possibility of more showers.

"It was soft when he (Sandpit) won there last year, so it should be no problem for him," the younger Mandella said.

For the second year in a row, Caesars Palace Las Vegas and Caesars World Atlantic City will offer a bonus for sweeping the Caesars International and the $700,000 Caesars Palace Turf Championship on July 21 at Hollywood Park. A horse capturing both races will receive a $280,000 bonus for a total $1-million payday. Sandpit earned $750,000 for sweeping the series last year.

Saturday's simulcast schedule includes the $200,000 Mother Goose (Gr. I) from Belmont at 2:10 p.m., and the Caesars International at 3:40 p.m. Sunday, Hollywood Park will offer the $100,000 Prioress Stakes (Gr. II) from Belmont Park at 2 p.m., and the $300,000 Ohio Derby (Gr. II) at 2:45 p.m.

Hollywood Park will host a reunion of at least 50 former NFL players - including many members of the Los Angeles Rams' 1951 NFL Championship team on Saturday.

The reunion, to be held in Hollywood Park's Ascot Room, is expected to bring out Deacon Dan Towler, Tank Younger and Dick Hoerner, who comprised the Rams' famed Bull Elephant Backfield. Other former Rams who will be in attendance include Jon Arnett, Dick Bass, Woodley Lewis, George Strugar and Del Shofner.

Services will be held for longtime thoroughbred trainer William Morris, who passed away recently following a lengthy illness.

Morris retired in 1987 after a long career that began when he took over for trainer C. S. Howard in 1950. Morris trained Sunday Slippers, victress of the 1961 Hollywood Lassie Stakes and the 1962 Palomar Handicap, and Gustaf, a former $5,000 claimer who captured the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon at Oakdale Cemetary in Glendora.

FINISH LINES: Score Quick drilled five furlongs in :59, The Exeter Man worked six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 and Powis Castle went five panels in :59 3/5 Friday morning, all in preparation for the June 30 Triple Bend Handicap. Probables for the race include Afternoon Deelites, Comininalittlehot, Paying Dues and Abaginone . . . Thursday was a busy day at the claim box, with seven claims, two four-way shakes, and two $80,000 claims as a total of $372,000 was passed through the horsemans bookkeeper's account. All seven of the claims finished first or second. The $80,000 claims - Dusty Girl claimed by Jack Carava from Roger Stein, and Park Valley taken by Matthew Chew from Mike Machowsky were the highest of the meet along with Sea Of Serenity (Hollendorfer from Cerin on 5/26) and Unusual Heat (Abrams from Mandella on 6/10) . . .Criollito is listed as the 6-5 favorite Saturday's $100,000 Aristides Handicap at Churchill Downs for trainer Bob Baffert . . . Jockey Rene Douglas will be out of town Sunday riding Victory Speech for trainer D. Wayne Lukas in the Ohio Derby . . . Laffit Pincay, Jr. will ride Chaposa Springs in Saturday's Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder Race Course.

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