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Espinoza's Choice Is Winner

May 18, 2003|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Able to pick between the two betting favorites in the $113,500 Senorita Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood Park, jockey Victor Espinoza made the right choice.

Reunited with Makeup Artist after a one-race absence, Espinoza directed the even-money choice to a 1 1/2-length victory over 5-1 third choice Rutters Renegade in 1:36.54 for the mile on turf.

Major Idea, the 5-2 second choice and a filly Espinoza had ridden in eight of her nine starts, finished fourth, three lengths behind the winner. Jockey Corey Nakatani, who rode the daughter of Cherokee Run for the first time, claimed foul against the winner for alleged interference on the turn, but it was dismissed by the stewards.

Nakatani disagreed.

"The winner just knocked me sideways on the turn for home," he said. "I was outside the horse and I got knocked sideways. I almost clipped heels. The second camera angle shows what happened. [Espinoza] is four wide and ends up three wide. What does that tell you? It tells you that he came in, knocked me sideways and eliminated my filly from all chance of [winning]."

Owned by George Krikorian and trained by John Shirreffs, Makeup Artist figured to improve when moved to the turf and she has not let her connections down. The Dynaformer filly has won two of three on the grass and was second, beaten a neck, in her lone loss in the Providencia last month at Santa Anita.

"She broke a little bit slowly, so I had to be patient and save a little for the end," Espinoza said. "When we turned for home, I was cruising on the outside. She just blew everybody away.

"I had the choice and I wasn't greatly impressed with the other filly the last time I rode her. But, this filly I was impressed by her because she's on the way up. She's such a powerful filly.

"If [Nakatani] said I knocked him sideways, he was wrong. He wanted to get out and he bumped my horse."


After setting the pace for the first three-quarters of a mile, You, the 7-5 favorite, faded and had to settle for third in the $200,000 Shuvee Handicap at Belmont Park.

While You disappointed, trainer Bobby Frankel won the Grade II anyway with Wild Spirit, a 10-1 longshot making her first U.S. start.

Ridden by Javier Castellano for the Sumaya Us Stable, the 4-year-old Chilean bred sat just off the pace while inside, then drew clear in the stretch and won by 3 1/2 lengths.


Prepping for her first start in California since last fall, Azeri, the reigning horse of the year, worked five furlongs in 57.60 on Friday at San Luis Rey for trainer Laura De Seroux.

A winner of 11 of 12 and eight in a row for the Allen Paulson Living Trust, the 5-year-old Jade Hunter mare will try to win the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap for a second year in a row on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

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