Friday, June 28, 1996

By Mark Midland


Looking for his first $1-million victory, trainer Wally Dollase will saddle an entry of Helmsman and Nonproductiveasset in Sunday's $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup.

"I've got one who runs on the pace, and one who comes from way out of it," said Dollase. "If they go too fast early, Nonproductiveasset will be coming from behind with his tremendous closing kick." MGM GRAND CLASSIC

The Gold Cup, second leg of the MGM Grand Classic Crown which awards a horse a $2-million bonus for winning the Santa Anita Handicap, Gold Cup and Pacific Classic, is the first race in the handicap division with six Grade I winners since the 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic. The race runs as the fifth on Sunday's card. Post time for the Gold Cup is 2:10 p.m. The race will be televised nationally (1:30 to 2:30 p.m.) by ESPN. Dave Johnson and Bob Neumeier will serve as hosts with the call from Hollywood Park announcer Luke Kruytbosch.

The Dollase coupling is listed as the 3-1 second choice in the Gold Cup, largely due to the presence of Helmsman, who enters the race off strong seconds behind Fastness in the Inglewood Handicap (Gr. III) and Tinners Way in The Californian (Gr. I).

"I've planned his third race back to be his best race," said Dollase, who saddled Itsallgreektome to a third-place finish in the 1991 Gold Cup. "I gave him the one race on the grass and then The Californian, but I'm hoping for this to be his best race."

Dollase, who saddled his 200th career winner on Wednesday, is hoping his star gets a cleaner run than he did in the Santa Anita Handicap (Gr. I). "(Chris) McCarron said he had a ton of horse coming for home, but when he got hit (by another horse) he gasped for air and swallowed his soft palate," said Dollase, who noted Helmsman galloped 1 1/4 miles on the training track Friday morning. "From then on, he had trouble getting air and came home fifth. Now he wears a figure-eight that keeps his mouth shut."

Helmsman, the second highweight at 120 pounds, drew the outside post in the field of eight for race.

"He couldn't have drawn any better," he said. "He'll probably be in the second tier, but this way he can stay outside of horses and make his run."

Nonproductiveasset is somewhat of an outsider in the Gold Cup, but the 6-year-old gelding is a proven commodity at 1 1/4 miles, having finished second by a nose in the 1994 Strub Stakes (Gr. I) and a solid fifth in the Santa Anita Handicap (Gr. I) the same year. Nonproductiveasset galloped 1 1/4 miles Friday morning in preparation for the race.

"Nonproductiveasset needs a realistic, fast pace," he said. "He'll be in the back tier with Mr Purple. If the pace is fast, he'll be closing with a rush."

In other developments:

Allen E. Paulson's Geri went to the track at 7 a.m. with exercise rider Ken McCarthy, and jogged one mile and galloped 1 3/8 miles.

"He went very well and finished up real strong," said McCarthy. Trainer Bill Mott is expected to arrive Sunday morning.

Luthier Fever, who was a last minute entrant into the Gold Cup field, walked trainer Ted West's shedrow after working four furlongs in :47 1/5 Thursday.

"We worked him a mile last week, and when he didn't work like we thought he would we weren't planning on running him," said trainer Ted West Jr. "But in lieu of the (MGM Grand Classic Crown Participation) bonus, the owners wanted to run him, so we decided to work him one more time before making a decision. We were happy with the way he worked Thursday morning and decided to go ahead and run him."

Tinners Way, the Gold Cup 5-2 morning line favorite, galloped once around the track Friday morning.

Santa Anita Handicap (Gr. I) winner Mr Purple galloped 1 1/4 miles under exercise rider Luis Ortega and is scheduled to blow out a quarter-mile Saturday morning.

Dare And Go galloped two miles for exercise rider Steve Willard.

Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (Gr. II) winner Siphon stood in the gate before galloping 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Mark Blanc.

The Gold Cup field from the rail out:

Siphon, David Flores up, 117 pounds, 5-1 on the morning line; Mr Purple*, Nakatani, 118, 9-2; Dare And Go, Alex Solis, 118, 12-1; Geri, Jerry Bailey, 118, 7-2; Luthier Fever, Kent Desormeaux, 113, 20-1; a-Nonproductiveasset, Rene Douglas, 114, 3-1; Tinners Way, Delahoussaye, 121, 2-1, and a-Helmsman, Chris McCarron, 120, 3-1. Nonproductiveasset and Helmsman are coupled in wagering.

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

Luthier Fever, the lone California-bred in the race, finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap and is one of three horses still eligible to share in the MGM Grand's $500,000 Participation Bonus. Mr Purple and Helmsman also ran in the Big 'Cap and will be eligible to share in the Participation Bonus if they also run in the Aug. 10 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Hollywood Gold Cup Day carries a special first post time of noon. Gates will open at 9:30 a.m. No early bird wagering will be available. The $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup, set for the fifth live race, has a post time of 2:10 p.m.

As the Hollywood Gold Cup runners go to post June 30, their respective grooms will have plenty riding on the outcome. The winning groom will drive away in style, as for the fifth year in a row, Hollywood Park will reward the groom of the Hollywood Gold Cup winner with the keys to a brand new Ford Ranger pickup truck.

Trainer Bob Baffert has been trying to figure out why his 3-year-old Semoran threw in two clunkers in the Blue Grass Stakes (Gr. II) and Kentucky Derby (Gr. I).

"I can't explain it," said Baffert, who saddled Cavonnier to a second-place finish in the Run for the Roses. "Maybe he didn't like the water in Kentucky."

Semoran shipped to Keeneland riding a four-race win streak, including scores in the Foster City Stakes and the Remington Park Derby. He was sent off at odds of 5-1 in the contentious Blue Grass field.

"It was a weird track at Keeneland (for the Blue Grass), and the Derby was too far for him," he said. "I think he likes the California tracks better."

The Phone Trick colt is listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Sunday's $100,000-added Affirmed Handicap, and has drawn post position No. 6 for the contest.

"He's training beautifully," he said. "I expect him to run very well on Sunday."

Semoran brings a four-for-eight record into the race, with three victories on the pace, and a come-from-behind effort in the Remington Park Derby. The colt will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, who guided the colt to a 3 1/2-length allowance victory earlier in the year.

"I don't know how strong the field was in Oklahoma, but I think (Semoran) wants to be close," said Baffert, who indicated Semoran would likely make his next start in the July 21 Swaps. "Corey knows the horse, so I won't tell him how to ride."

In other developments:

Harry Henson Stakes winner Hesabull worked five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 Friday morning in preparation for Sunday's race.

Post positions for the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap, to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, listed from the rail out: Benton Creek, Kent Desormeaux, 114, 15-1; Let Bob Do It, Kent Desormeaux, 120, 4-1; Matty G, Alex Solis, 119, 3-1; Hesabull, Eddie Delahoussaye, 117, 4-1; Defleet, Rene Douglas, 113, 20-1; Semoran, Corey Nakatani, 118, 5-2; Slews Royal Son, Brice Blanc, 116, 5-1, and Pugnacious, Chris McCarron, 116, 15-1.

No matter how well he runs on Sunday, Powis Castle will be leaving the Ben Cecil stable the following day. He is scheduled to be sold at the Barretts July Sale, as owner Berry Gordy

disperses his stock. But a win in Sunday's $200,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap (Gr. III) would greatly enhance his market value.

"He's doing better going in than in his last few starts," said trainer Ben Cecil of the son of Rare Brick, who has banked $569,518 with seven wins in 26 starts. "He won last time, but 6 1/2 furlongs is too short for him. Seven (furlongs) is his best trip."

In order to get to the wire first, Powis Castle will have to beat odds-on choice Afternoon Deelites, who is undefeated in four starts at seven furlongs and two tries over the Hollywood track.

"It's not going to be easy," he said. "But you can't beat him (Afternoon Deelites) staying in the barn. When you get on the racetrack, you never know what will happen."

Post positions and the morning line for Sunday's $200,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap, to be run at seven furlongs on the main track, from the rail out: The Exeter Man, Eddie Delahoussaye, 115, 4-1; Score Quick, Goncalino Alameida, 113, 20-1; Marina Park, Rene Douglas, 20-1, 111; Afternoon Deelites, Corey Nakatani, 124, 6-5; Powis Castle, Laffit Pincay Jr., 116; 5-1; Comininalittlehot, Jerry Bailey, 116, 8-1; Letthebighossroll, Chris McCarron, 116, 5-1, and Kingdom Found, Alex Solis, 116, 10-1.

Mr Purple's upset victory for Alex G. Campbell 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, with a total prize of $3.8-million, 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 pay a $500,000 Participation Bonus, which will be distributed among the top point earners. To be eligible for the bonus, a horse must start in all three races.

Participation Bonus point distribution after the first leg of the MGM Grand Classic Crown: Mr Purple, 10 (Santa Anita Handicap winner and eligible for the $2-million bonus); Luthier Fever, 7; Just Java, 5; Helmsman, 3, and Cezind, 1.

When trainer Blake Heap brought Flying In The Lane back off a four-month layoff to run second in the June 10 Cool Air Handicap, he had Saturday's $100,000 Valkyr in mind all along.

"We were trying to win but I knew we had to beat Track Gal in there," said Heap, who saddled the Flying Victor mare to a second place finish behind Soviet Problem in the 1995 edition of the Valkyr. "So I told Martin (Pedroza) to make a good run but not to overextend her."

Flying In The Lane will break from the outside post in the field of ten, which is a cause for concern for Heap.

"I just hope the field separates enough so we can drop in behind the speed," he said. "There's plenty of speed in the race. We have to track the speed and outrun them coming for home. I think she'll be very tough to beat."

Post positions for Saturday's $100,000-added Valkyr Handicap, to be run at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, from the rail out: Seattle Carla, Alex Solis, 112; Truce In Balance, Eddie Delahoussaye, 117; Salsa Dancer, Chris McCarron, 115; Miss L Attack, Rene Douglas, 118; Tabled With Saros, Kent Desormeaux, 116; Batroyale, David Flores, 114; Airistar, Corey Nakatani, 118; Fickle Flirt, Joy Scott, 107; Above The Table, Brice Blanc, 117; Flying In The Lane, Martin Pedroza, 120.

Lightly-raced Megan's Interco hasn't started since taking the Cal Cup Mile on Nov. 11, but bringing the 7-year-old back to the races has been a labor of love for trainer Jenine Sahadi.

"It takes a really long time getting him back to the races," said Sahadi. "But he's well worth it."

Sahadi saddled Fastness to capture the $700,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile, the richest victory by a female trainer. In the race, Fastness tied the Hollywood Park record of 1:32 3/5 for one mile on the turf, set by Megan's Interco in the 1994 Shoemaker.

Megan's Interco has won 11 races and placed in 19 of 24 starts, including wins in the 1993 and 1995 Cal Cup Mile. He also finished fourth in the 1994 Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs.

"He's a remarkable horse, everything that he's accomplished without having good feet," she said. "He's my sentimental favorite, I love having him around."

FINISH LINES: Chris Antley rode five winners on Thursday's card, including the day's first three contests, scoring with Cuepredictive ($10.60), Fairness ($4.00) and Tower Full ($2.80). The 30-year-old continued his hot hand later, winning aboard Courageous Wonder ($5.00) in the fifth, and Nearly Perfect ($8.00) in the ninth. . . Santa Anita Derby (Gr. I) winner Larry The Legend worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 at Santa Anita Friday morning in preparation for his comeback . . .

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