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Smiling Tiger All Business in Triple Bend

Back in California after finishing a much-troubled sixth as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade II Churchill Downs May 7 in Kentucky, Smiling Tiger was always in control en route to a 3 ¼ length win in the Triple Bend.


Successful in the Grade III Lazaro S. Barrera Memorial and Grade I Ancient Title in two starts at Hollywood Park in 2010, the 4-year-old son of Hold That Tiger and the Cahill Road mare Shandra Smiles is now 3-for-3 locally and 8-for-16 lifetime.


Trained by Jeff Bonde for owners Alan Klein and Philip Lebherez, Smiling Tiger became a millionaire with his win. The $150,000 payday pushed his earnings to $1,149,353.


Providing Rosario, the meet’s leading rider, with his first Triple Bend victory, Smiling Tiger paid $5.40, $4 and $2.80.


Seeking his second graded win since being claimed for $40,000 by trainer Mike Mitchell in February, Camp Victory was a clear second, 2 ¼ lengths in front of 3-2 favorite Amazombie.


Camp Victory, a 9-1 shot, paid $6.80 and $3.80. Amazombie returned $2.60 to show.


“He’s a really good horse,’’ said Rosario after his meet-high 11th stakes victory. “The good thing with him is that when he sees a horse close to him, he just wants to beat him.


“He might be a Breeders’ Cup horse. When I rode Twirling Candy (in the Malibu Stakes last Dec. 26) at Santa Anita, we set a track record (for seven furlongs) and it took us a long time to get by this horse. I worked him for the first time last week and I can really see how he’s improving.’’


Bonde indicated Smiling Tiger could return to defend his title in the $250,000 Bing Crosby later in the month (July 31) at Del Mar and also compete in the $250,000 Pat O’Brien Aug. 28. He was third in that race in 2010. Both are Grade I’s.


“We got a good trip today and the horse got to express himself,’’ said Bonde. “When he has his days he comes with a good one. This horse has the ability to go quick and still rally. He’s got a very long stride, he’s a big, long stretchy horse.


“Every day he seems to be a better animal. He was like a big, skinny teenager as a young horse and the older he’s gotten he’s put on muscle mass and filled out.


“He’s become a professional where before he was kind of a goof off as a young guy. We’re trying to win the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint) with him.’’


Don Elias M., a 19-1 shot, concluded a Player’s Pick 5 and Early Pick 4 dominated by longshots, leading to hefty payoffs in two wagers with a 50 cent minimum.


The Player’s Pick 5, which begins daily in the first race, returned $28,078.15. The return on the Early Pick 4, which starts in the second, was $64,068.30, the largest of the Spring/Summer. Based on a $1 minimum, it was the biggest Pick 4 at Hollywood Park since a record $355,727 April 27, 2007.


There were two perfect tickets in the Pick 6. It was worth $207,087. An additional $625,871 was wagered Saturday in pursuit of a Friday night carryover of $79,818.


When racing resumes Sunday – post time 1 p.m. - there will be a carryover of $35,974 in the Super High 5, which is offered daily at Hollywood Park in the final race.


Former Breeders’ Cup winners California Flag (2009 Turf Sprint) and Dancing in Silks (2009 Sprint) are among eight scheduled to run six furlongs on turf in the $77,000 Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap in the feature on the nine race card.


A two-time winner over the Hollywood Park grass, California Flag is the 9-5 favorite on Russ Hudak’s morning line.





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