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HOLLYWOOD PARK

Losing Azeri Not Such a Bad Deal for Smith

June 01, 2004|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

The best thing that happened to jockey Mike Smith on Monday was losing the mount on Azeri.

While the former horse of the year was getting clobbered by males in the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, Smith directed Noches De Rosa to a one-length win over 3-5 favorite Megahertz in the $324,250 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park.

"Whew, that takes some of the sting out," said Smith in reference to Azeri, a horse he had ridden in each of her 18 previous races, 15 for victories, before owner Michael Paulson replaced him with Pat Day.

Helped by the dawdling pace (25.40 and 49.57 for the first half-mile), Noches De Rosa won for the seventh time in 23 starts and ran the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:48.34. She's trained by Richard Mandella for Gerald Ford's Diamond A Racing Corporation.

Megahertz, who dropped far back early because jockey Victor Espinoza said the grass was "a little bit hard" for her, rallied to finish a head in front of Quero Quero, then came Dimitrova.

Smith said he was concerned about Megahertz but didn't realize until watching the replay just how far back she was.

*

Taking advantage of a perfect trip, Designed For Luck, a 5-1 shot, beat Singletary and seven others in the $456,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mileat Hollywood Park.

Disqualified out of an earlier Grade I win, in the 2000 Hollywood Derby, Designed For Luck, a 7-year-old Rahy gelding, completed the distance on turf in 1:32.81, not far off the course record of 1:32.64 set by Megan's Interco 10 years ago. He won by 1 1/2 lengths under jockey Patrick Valenzuela.

Owned by David and Holly Wilson and trained by Vladimir Cerin, Designed For Luck -- claimed for $62,500 in his second career start -- has 10 wins in 26 races and has earned $915,500.

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