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Turf Cup Lacking in Star Power

November 22, 2003|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

The first Grade I of Hollywood Park's fall meet, the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, lost a lot of luster Thursday when entries were taken for the 1 1/2-mile race.

Conspicuous by their absence were The Tin Man, who almost certainly would have been the favorite, and Megahertz, a classy, long-winded filly trained by Bobby Frankel.

A wrenched ankle will keep The Tin Man in his stall at trainer Richard Mandella's barn, and Megahertz wasn't supplemented.

Entered, though, is Runaway Dancer, an ever-improving gelding trained by Dan Hendricks for RL Stables.

A 4-year-old son of Runaway Groom, Runaway Dancer has found his calling as a distance specialist. Winner of only two of his first nine starts, the gray has won three of his last four. He won twice going 1 3/8 miles at Del Mar and scored his latest at today's distance in the Carleton F. Burke Handicap on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita. A 38-1 longshot under jockey Mike Smith, he rallied to beat Labirinto by a neck.

"Distance has been the whole key with him," said Hendricks, who began training Runaway Dancer earlier this year after the horse had been with Jedd Josephson and Art Sherman at Bay Area tracks.

"We ran him in the first mile and three-eighths race at Del Mar because we didn't want to wait another two or three weeks. He won that first race easily, so we tried him again and he won another one easily.

"He's doing as well as ever. He's doing everything right. The only difference now and his last three wins is, we have Julie [Krone as jockey] now and we're not losing anything with her. He's been a pleasant surprise for all of us."

Smith isn't riding because he had already committed to The Tin Man.

The rest of the field, from the inside out, all carrying 126 pounds: Hatif, Superiority, the Juddmonte Farms-owned entry of Staging Post and Epicentre, the aforementioned Labirinto, Continuously, Bowman Mill and Hataab.

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