Photo: Hollywood Park
Overcoming a less-than-alert start, Mr Gruff was impressive
in his comeback, defeating Compari and six others in the $67,650 Night Mover
Stakes Friday night at Hollywood Park.
Making his first appearance since trailing in the Al Quoz
Sprint March 26 at Meydan Race Course in the United Arab Emirates, the
7-year-old Mr Greeley gelding moved up quickly after out breaking only A
Jealous Woman to gain a clear advantage down the backside, then had more than
enough in reserve late to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
Trained by Ron Ellis for owner Gary Broad, Mr Gruff, the 5-2
favorite, completed the six furlongs on turf in 1:08.42 under jockey Joel
Rosario. In winning for the sixth time in 11 starts, he increased his earnings
The win was the first in two races over the Hollywood Park
grass for Mr Gruff, who is out of the Clever Trick mare Ruff. A two-time winner
of the Grade III San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita, Mr Gruff’s only previous
local experience was a third in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile May 31, 2010.
A winner five of the six times he has been the public
choice, Mr Gruff paid $7, $4.20 and $3.40.
Returning from a layoff of more than six months – he had
last competed in a one mile turf allowance May 8 - Compari, who was ridden for
the first time by Rafael Bejarano, returned $3.80 and $2.80 as the 5-2 second
The 5-year-old California bred gelding finished 3 ¼ lengths
clear of 8-1 shot Sirocco Strike, who has earned both of his victories
sprinting over the Hollywood Park turf. The show price on Sirocco Strike, who
was ridden by Martin Pedroza, was $4.60.
Completing the order of finish were St Liams Halo, Al
Instante, Ash Zee, Lt. Hopeful and A Jealous Woman.
Ash Zee, a 4-year-old Exchange Rate filly, was vanned off
afterward with an apparent injury to her left front leg. The stewards reported she
was returned to the stable of trainer Neil Drysdale.
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela was off his mounts again Friday
night. Reports say he isn’t likely to return until next weekend at the earliest
while he deals with personal issues.