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Erratic American Act Wins Harry Henson

Hollywood Park logo.
Photo: Hollywood Park

Despite drifting out badly entering the stretch, favored American Act was able to get up and defeat Senor Rain by a nose in the $72,350 Harry Henson Stakes on Thursday, opening day of Betfair Hollywood Park’s Spring/Summer meet.

 

Ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano, the 3-year-old Quiet American gelding earned his second win in six starts for Howard and Janet Siegel Racing LLC and trainer Jack Carava.

 

In a race switched from turf to Cushion Track due to earlier rain, American Act completed the six furlongs in 1:11.00. This was the first time the Henson, named in honor of the legendary track announcer, had been run on something other than grass since Salish Shaman won under jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. in 1999.

 

Cutting back in distance after finishing seventh of 10 in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes March 10 at Santa Anita, the even-money choice was last in a closely bunched field while in the clear after breaking from outside in a field reduced to six starters.

 

However, with about a quarter of a mile to run, American Act bore out and was seemingly out of the race.

 

Once the Henson participants straightened for the stretch, the Kentucky bred surged on the far outside and was able to edge the 9-2 third choice.

 

Out of the Boston Harbor mare Revolutionary Act, American Act increased his earnings to $116,360. He paid $4, $2.60 and $2.10.

 

“He never showed signs of doing anything like that before,’’ said Carava. “He’s never so much as got out a foot in the mornings, so it was a complete surprise. I don’t know what he was thinking or what made him do it.

 

“Luckily he’s the kind of horse who could overcome it. I kind of gave up hope. In the middle of the stretch, I thought he could be second.’’

 

Eighth of nine in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in his prior outing April 7, Senor Rain, who finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of 3-1 second choice Consulado, paid $4 and $2.80. The show payoff on Consulado was $2.80.

 

Completing the order of finish were Chickie Charms, Sir Allison and Diamond of Blue.

 

Koast, the 5-2 second choice on Russ Hudak’s morning line, was scratched Thursday morning when the race was taken off the turf.

 

Passing Game was a veterinarian scratch prior to the start. According to Betfair Hollywood Park steward Tom Ward, the Game Plan colt was reported “off in the left front leg.’’

 

The Henson win was the second in four years for Bejarano, who had tallied with Backbackbackgone in 2009.

 

Besides Bejarano, who also won the fifth with favored Caelis, the only jockey with more than one win was Agapito Delgadillo.

 

The veteran rider captured the third with 6-1 shot Folk Dancer, then sprung a $106.60 shocker with Banana Split in the sixth.

 

The victory by Banana Split, a 3-year-old Posse filly who had been eased in her debut March 1 at Santa Anita, was the first for trainer Beau Greely since Luv Dragon prevailed July 18, 2010, the final day of the Spring/Summer meet at Betfair Hollywood Park.

 

Racing resumes Friday. Post time is 7:05 p.m.

 

Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, will make his first start as a 6-year-old in the $100,000 Inglewood Handicap. A Grade III at 1 1/8 miles on turf, the Inglewood is the third race. Scheduled post time is 8:05 p.m.

 

After the nine race program is concluded, the “Friday Night Live’’ concert series for the 2011 Spring/Summer meet will begin. The feature attraction is the San Diego-based band Pepper.

 

Approximate start time for the concert, which will be held at the North Park, is 11 p.m.

 

 

 

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