Favored Half Strike
enabled jockey Rafael Bejarano to close to within one win of a significant milestone when the 4-year-old ridgling won the $54,324 feature Friday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The leading rider at the current Spring/Summer meet, Bejarano is named on seven horses on Saturday’s card at Betfair Hollywood Park as he seeks his 3,000th career victory.
One of the Peruvian native’s mounts is Scarlet Strike, the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Grade III, $100,000 Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
Bejarano’s 2,999th win was the second for Half Strike, a son of Smart Strike and the Unbridled filly Halfbridled, who was the champion 2-year-old filly of 2003.
Trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella for owner-breeders Gerard and Alain Wertheimer, Half Strike was kept in the clear throughout by Bejarano while Unstopper Topper set the pace, swept to the lead early in the stretch and went on to win by 2 ¾ lengths.
The final time for the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track was 1:44.46. No worse than second in his last four starts, Half Strike has started six times and earned $81,160. He paid $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 7-10 choice.
Fast Track, the early trailer in a field reduced to five participants after the scratch of God Of War, rallied for second, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Mind the Master, the longest shot in the quintet at 9-1. Fast Track paid $3.60 and $3 while the show price on Mind the Master was $3.80.Joe Talamo
moved into second place in the jockey standings with a Friday triple, taking the second with favored Rossi Reserve, the third with Follini and the fifth with Zuboff.
Through 10 days of the Spring/Summer meet, Talamo has 13 victories, leaving him two behind Bejarano.