Trainer John Shirreffs was asked about a horse other than Zenyatta at Hollywood Park on Thursday.
“We’re going to try the Morvich with Scenic Blast,” said Shirreffs from the stable kitchen porch overlooking the backside in reference to the Australian 2009 Horse of the Year being readied for the $100,000 Grade III test at six furlongs on turf Monday.
Scenic Blast seeks his first United States victory in four starts. He closed well to finish fourth and second, respectively, in the Robert Kerlan Handicap here and the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar before finishing fifth in the Del Mar Mile Handicap in his last start on August 28.
“There wasn’t much pace in the Del Mar Mile,” said Shirreffs, hoping for a more contested lead in the Morvich, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 6.
Scenic Blast, winner of the Group I Newmarket Handicap at Flemington and the Group I King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot in 2009, has won eight of 24 starts and earned $1,454,042 for Royal Aussie.
Scenic Blast is expected to be the starting highweight at 120 pounds. Other probable starters include Tropic Storm, David Flores, 118; Afleet Ruler, Joel Rosario, 115; Dilemma, Victor Espinoza, 114; Lt. Hopeful, Alonso Quinonez, 114; and Truest Legend, Patrick Valenzuela, 113.
GAINES HOPES “SILKS” REGAINS TOP FORM IN ANCIENT TITLE
Dancing in Silks came out of virtual obscurity last fall to win the Cal Cup Sprint in early October and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in early November.
Gaines hopes the 5-year-old gelding is on the same timetable after entering him in the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes Saturday, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint November 6.
Gaines gave the California-bred six months off at Winner’s Circle in Bradbury following a pair of dull efforts at Santa Anita last winter. He returned with a fourth-place finish in the Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar on September 8.
“He likes this track and has worked well on it,” said Gaines Thursday. “I’d love to get back to the Breeders’ Cup.” Dancing in Silks leaves from the outside post in a field of eight under regular rider Joel Rosario in the six-furlong Grade I test on Cushion Track.
Dancing in Silks has won seven of 16 starts and earned $1,474,702 for owner Ken Kinakin.
VICTOR’S CRY AIMS FOR SHOEMAKER--OAK TREE MILE SWEEP
Victor’s Cry, who won the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at 22-to-1 odds on the Hollywood Park turf in May, will not be so lightly regarded Saturday in the $150,000 Grade II Oak Tree Mile.
The 5-year-old son of Street Cry finished a creditable second to The Usual Q.T. in the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar and checked in ninth in his last start in the Woodbine Mile on September 19.
“Eoin had great belief in his class, and he vindicated that in the Shoemaker Mile,” said Alex Elliott, assistant to trainer Eoin Harty, on Thursday.
“The Eddie Read may have been a little too long for him,” said Elliott of the 1 1/8-mile race. “At Woodbine, he was a lot closer to the pace than normal.”
Victor’s Cry drew post two in a field of seven under Corey Nakatani in the Oak Tree Mile, a “ Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Nov. 6.
“It appears we’re the only closer in the race; it should set up for him,” said Elliott. “He loves California turf.”
Victor’s Cry seeks to join Silic (1999) and Aragorn (2006) as the only horses to win the Shoemaker and the Oak Tree Mile in the same year. He has won five of 19 starts and earned $411,021 for Equilete Stable.
FINISH LINES--Dan Hendricks, trainer of Oak Leaf Stakes longshot winner Rigoletta Sunday, said the 2-year-old filly will probably be supplemented to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. “It looks like we’re going to,” said Hendricks Thursday. “Her owners (Erik and Pavla Nygaard) want to make sure everything is okay, but Rigoletta looks great, and I’m going to train her like we’re going. She relishes going long, and she has just enough speed to be up there without being on the lead, a style which suits the Breeders’ Cup race well.”… Vic Stauffer, agent for injured jockey Tyler Baze, said the rider is not expected to return until the Santa Anita winter meet. Stauffer explained that Baze has not healed as quickly as expected following surgery for facial injuries suffered in a freak accident when his mount “head-butted” him behind the starting gate early in the Del Mar meet… R.C. Ebanks, son of agent Ron Ebanks, has taken the book of apprentice Jesus Velazquez…Trainer Tom Proctor arrived this week with 15 horses and said he expects five more…Alonso Quinonez has taken a call on Haimish Hy for trainer Art Sherman in the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby on Oct. 16. Trainer Jim Cassidy said he also plans to enter Kid Edward in the Grade II turf test…Jockey Mike Smith will travel to Woodbine Oct. 16 to ride Spice Route for trainer Roger Attfield in the $2-million Canadian International Stakes.