By Chris Esslinger

Friday, December 6, 1996

Home of the 1997 Breeders' Cup


Argentina-bred Criollito is trying to bounce back from a 12th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in Saturday’s $100,000-added Vernon O. Underwood (Gr. III) at Hollywood Park.

Criollito was entered as a $200,000 supplement in the Sprint by trainer Bob Baffert.

Baffert, who conditioned 1992 Underwood winner Gundaghia, saddles the 5-year-old horse, who won the Grade III Churchill Downs Handicap earlier this year.

“He’s ready to go,” Baffert said. “He’s running in the one-hole this time, which is okay for him because he runs better from the inside.”

Criollito has six wins, four seconds and three thirds in 18 starts while earning $264,354 for Bob and Beverly Lewis. The son of Candy Stripes has won one of three starts at the Underwood distance of six furlongs.

“He’s a late-running sprinter,” Baffert said. “He’s a speed horse. You never like to get the one-hole, but it’s a good excuse if you get beat.”

The field for the Vernon O. Underwood, to be run at six furlongs, follows in post position order: Criollito, Chris McCarron, 120; Moving Tribute, Eddie Delahoussaye, 114; Minjinsky, Martin Pedroza, 114; Hit The Roof, Alex Solis, 116; Men’s Exclusive, Julio Garcia, 114; Kern Ridge, Rene Douglas, 114, and Paying Dues, Day, 124.


Linda Vista Handicap (Gr. III) winner Listening tries to continue her hot streak in graded stakes races as she takes on a talented field of fillies and mares in the $100,000-added Bayakoa Handicap (Gr. II) on Sunday.

Listening has won three of her last four starts -- all in graded stakes. Two of the wins came in the Grade I Hollywood Oaks and the Grade II Princess at Hollywood Park.

“She’s doing well,” trainer Ron McAnally said. “She blew out a half-mile yesterday in :48 with Chris [McCarron] aboard. She’s ready to go.”

The 3-year-old filly has five wins, two seconds and earnings of $314,648 in nine starts for owner Janis Whitham. Despite the Kentucky-bred’s success this year, McAnally cautioned against comparisons to past champions he’s trained, such as Paseana or Bayakoa.

“It’s hard to say,” McAnally said. “Only time is going to tell. You never know, you just try to take it one race at a time. Hopefully, she’ll keep coming back good and live to fight another battle.”

McAnally said winning the Bayakoa would be very special now that it has been named after his two-time Eclipse Award-winner.

“It would be exciting to win this race, especially because it’s for the same owners,” McAnally said.

The field for the Bayakoa Handicap, to be run at 1 1/16 miles, follows in post position order: Listening, McCarron, 120; Traces of Gold, Kent Desormeaux, 116; Smolensk, Delahoussaye, 115; Cat’s Cradle, Solis, 120; Sleep Easy, David Flores, 116; Belle’s Flag, Laffit Pincay Jr., 115, and Predicted Glory, Garcia, 112.


Jockey Goncalino Almeida, who has been out of action for two weeks, returns Saturday aboard one mount.

Almeida broke his left collarbone after being thrown when his horse broke down after the fourth race on Nov. 17.

“He’s been working horses since Monday, and the collarbone feels good,” Almeida’s agent, Michelle Barsotti, said. “Usually with an injury like this, you’ll see a jockey favor it when he mounts or dismounts, but Goncalino hasn’t. He feels great.”

Almeida will ride the Ron McAnally-trained Canboulay in the fourth race on Sunday. To date, he has posted a record of two wins, one second and two thirds aboard 20 mounts at the Hollywood Park autumn meeting.

“We want to get him back in the groove slowly,” Barsotti said. “We actually didn’t expect him to come back until Santa Anita. He’s returned so quickly, I’m still trying to catch up.”

FINISH LINES: Dahlia Handicap hopeful Lady Ling worked six furlongs over a good main track at Santa Anita in 1:15 on Friday. The $100,000-added Dahlia (Gr. II) is part of a stakes tripleheader on Sunday, Dec. 15. The $500,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (Gr. I) and $250,000 Hollywood Futurity (Gr. I) will also be contested . . . British Bauble breezed five furlongs in 1:04 4/5 in preparation for the Dahlia . . . Two Ninety Jones, also getting ready for the Dahlia, drilled five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 . . . Admise will be aimed by trainer Walter Greenman at the Turf Cup . . . Party Season drilled one mile on the turf in 1:30 2/5 on Thursday in preparation for the Turf Cup . . . Seventeen trainers are within two wins of the lead 23 days into the autumn meet. Ron McAnally and Jack Carava are tied for the lead with six wins apiece, seven are tied with five wins and eight others have saddled four winners . . . Alex Solis continues to lead the jockey standings with 25 winners, six ahead of Gary Stevens. Solis is trying to win his fourth consecutive title.

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