Slim pickings at Hollywood Park on Sunday

There are only a few horses I like today. Here they are:

2nd — Ramsgate should have his way with this group and there’s a good chance trainer Bobby Frankel will sweep the early double, also winning with Ksar Ghilane in the opener. Ballistic Heat is a live long shot in the second. He should be closing strongly in the stretch and gets a five-pound weight break with apprentice Pedro Arambula.

3rd — Abstract Fact is going up in class, from $25,000 to $40,000 maidens, but she raced wide into the stretch in her last and I think she’s a good long-shot play here under Chantal Sutherland.

Good luck today!

Hollywood Park selections for Saturday

Here are a few horses I like on today’s nine-race card, highlighted by the $65,000 Audrey Kenis Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for 3-year-old fillies:

3rd — Medjool was 5-wide into the stretch on Oct. 24 at Oak Tree, switches to Rafael Bejarano and is trained by the ever-capable Julio Canani. He’s a solid play. Beresford is a live long shot.

5th — Tahoe Kid is my best bet of the day. Trained by the white-hot John Sadler, the 2-year-old gelding goes from Luis Contreras to Tyler Baze, who wins at a 22 percent clip for Sadler.

6th — Unusually Hot has won 3 of 10 lifetime and retains the services of Joel Rosario, who appears to be breaking out of a brief slump. Trainer Kathy Walsh has won with 24 percent of her 84 starters.

7th — Hold Fast comes out of a maiden special weight where the winner came back and won his next start. Trainer Neil Drysdale has already won three times at the meet and figures strong in this spot. Tevez the Tiger also deserves a look.

Good luck today!

Carryover tonight at Hollywood Park

There’s a $62,000 pick-six carryover at Hollywood Park tonight, and I believe I have a super single to use in the opening leg.

Exotic Story, trained by Matthew Chew, is sitting on a win after a big effort in a sprint on the turf on Oct. 23 at Oak Tree. Aaron Gryder stays aboard the 3-year-old gelding, who broke his maiden by three lengths at Del Mar three races back. Gryder rode him that day. He’s 2-1 on the morning line, but I think you’ll get at least that price or maybe 5-2 or 3-1.

Some other horses I like tonight:

2nd — Kissy’s Chaos is 6-1 on the morning line and looks good in this maiden special weight. Martin Garcia stays aboard, which is a good sign since he rides a lot of trainer Vladimir Cerin’s live horses. He had a wide trip in his last on Sept. 13 at Fairplex Park and he’s going to come out running tonight.

4th — Trainer Danny Montes (5 for 30, 13 percent) doesn’t have a huge stable, but he’s got a big shot in this $25,000 maiden claimer. Jockey Kayla Stra figures to help the 6-1 morning line, and this 3-year-old filly drew the advantageous outside post in the eight-horse field.

6th — Cubs Molina is 4-1 on the morning line and the 3-year-old maiden drops from $40,000 to $25,000. He lost by three-quarters of a length the last time he was in with this kind, and Gryder should have lots of horse in the stretch.

8th — On paper, Afleet Bud is going to have a lot of pace to run at in the night’s finale. If Garcia gets a clean trip, this race sets up well for the 3-year-old son of Northern Afleet.

Good luck tonight!

Some late-night upsets?

Some horses to consider in the last three races on the Friday-night card at Hollywood Park:

6th — Outlaw Yodeler (No. 7), 6-1 on the morning line. He has been working as if he means to open a lead he can hold this time. Trainer Peter Eurton switches to jockey Michael Baze, who’s off to a great start at the meet.

7th — Forest Miss (5), 4-1. Jerry Hollendorfer’s filly has a style that might work even better on the turf than it did on the main track in her win at Santa Anita.

8th — Premier Issue (7), 4-1. Now that he has gotten used to passing horses, he has to learn to pass the leader.

Bejarano riding into history book


No jockey in the past 35 years has taken the Southland by storm like Rafael Bejarano, who is on the verge of becoming the third rider and first since Patrick Valenzuela in 2003 to sweep the five major Southern California meets in one year. Chris McCarron also accomplished the feat in 1983.

Going into tonight’s card at Hollywood Park, Bejarano is winning at a 27 percent clip and holds a commanding 19-10 lead over Garrett Gomez in the jockey standings. Michael Baze is third with eight wins.

Yes, Gomez is the man most trainers go to nationally when they are looking for a rider. Currently, Gomez leads the nation’s jockeys with $21.8 million in earnings, but Bejarano sits third, right behind Kent Desormeaux ($14.8 million), with $14.7 million.

If the 26-year-old Bejarano continues to make California his home, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for quite a while. He’s the real deal. Polished, patient and a joy to work with, from what we hear.

The sheikh’s Derby folly

Sheikh Mohammed’s plan to prepare Midshipman in Dubai for next year’s Kentucky Derby has prompted some free advice from Bill Christine, now an on-line columnist. As Bill notes:

It is not hard to predict that Sheik Mohammed will win the Derby one day, but because he is his own man, has fierce national pride and is walking proof that royalty is not exempt from bullheadedness, he’s determined to pick up the roses with a horse who’s prepped for the race in Dubai.

Read Bill’s historical perspective on the sheikh’s plan for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner by clicking here.

Today’s live horses at Hollywood Park

Not a lot of prices that I like today, but there are some solid plays if you don’t mind low odds:

1st –Sister Lucy and jockey Aaron Gryder could be long gone in this spot. He’s 2-1 on the morning line, though, so bet judiciously.

2nd — Bobby Frankel holds the ace in this race — 9-5 morning-line favorite Oceanography. The early price is not attractive, but it’s better than any interest rate you’ll get at the bank today. How about a Sister Lucy-Oceanography daily double?

7th — Mean Heat and Powerofvoodoo are nice price plays in this $25,000 optional claimer on the turf. Mean Heat, with Joe Talamo aboard, is 6-1 on the morning line after racing five-wide into the stretch. Powerofvoodoo will be flying in the stretch with Chantal Sutherland. If the pace is swift, this 10-1 morning-line outsider can win.

8th — Pink Polkadots has had 16 chances, but she’s never raced this cheaply. Talamo rides and he’s got a big shot to sweep the late double. Halo’s Clean Sheet will be tough in this $25,000 maiden claimer and she’s an attractive 8-1 on the morning line.

Good luck today!

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A pick in today’s feature

I wonder if that 5-2 morning line will stand up for Rush Rush in today’s seventh race at Hollywood Park. Rush Rush is second on the line to Dilemma (2-1) but looks like the pick to me, and he could make a pick-three or pick-four single in the middle of cheaper races.

Draw a line through Rush Rush’s race before the layoff, and he has the best recent performance. The gelding switches back to Victor Espinoza, who has been great on the Hollywood Park turf, and he has been working well for trainer Mike Machowski, who is good with comebackers.

Lang Field has a chance to lead all the way but should be caught by Rush Rush and Dilemma, hopefully more the former than the latter.

Looking for a couple of pick-six singles at Hollywood Park?

There’s no pick-six carryover today at Hollywood Park, but if you’re still going to play it and are looking for a way to keep the price of your ticket down, here are two possible singles for you to consider:

4th — Trainer Lewis Cenicola doesn’t have many horses and he’s won only once in 44 tries in 2008, but Sweet October looks good enough to give him his second victory of the year. Jon Court sticks with the Bertrando filly, who held her speed to the stretch for the first time in her last race over the lawn at Santa Anita on Oct. 17. She figures to be tough here. She’s 2-1 on the morning line and is a perfect single in early pick fours and the pick six.

6th — Casual Encounter is another 2-1 morning-line choice who appears to be sitting on a score with Victor Espinoza aboard. The 2-year-old filly had a really wide trip last out on Oct. 3 from the No. 10 hole and is drawn in closer (No. 4) today. She’s live and she’ll win with a clean trip.

Good luck today!

Best rider so far is a Baze

As Hollywood Park starts its third week today, which jockeys are doing best and worst?

Rafael Bejarano leads the official standings with 14 wins, ahead of Garrett Gomez’s 8 and Michael Baze’s 7.

But I have my own way to rate jockeys. I come up with a number for each rider by adding up the good things he does — wins, long-shot wins, photo-finish wins, stakes wins — and subtracting the bad things — losses aboard betting favorites.

By this system, Michael Baze is off to the best start at Hollywood Park with +9 (just to show you how it works: M. Baze has 7 wins, 2 long-shot wins, 1 photo-finish win, 1 stakes win minus 2 beaten favorites), followed by Bejarano at +8 and Victor Espinoza and Martin Pedroza each at +6.

Gomez is at 0, and the rider who’s really struggling is Joel Rosario at -4. Rosario is 0 for 6 aboard favorites on the main track.

Looking closer:

- Best in main-track sprints so far: M. Baze.
- Best in main-track routes: Bejarano.
- Best on turf: Espinoza.
- Biggest difference: Gomez has been good in two-turn races and turf races, bad in sprints.
- Perfect record: Pedro Arambula has 3 wins, no losing favorites.
- Best speed rider: Pedroza has 3 wire-to-wire wins.
- Best come-from-behinder: Bejarano has rallied 4 winners from the back half of the field.
- Best long-shot rider: Jose Valdivia has 3 winners paying 10-1 or more.

We’ll try to update this stuff every week.