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HORSE RACING

Drysdale Doubles Up for the Whittingham

June 11, 2005|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Trainer Neil Drysdale, who spent part of his Hall of Fame career working as an assistant to the late Charlie Whittingham, has won the $350,000 Charlie Whittingham Memorial Handicap twice in the last five years.

Drysdale won with White Heart five years ago, then scored with Storming Home in 2003. And he is poised to win the Grade I again today at Hollywood Park with Red Fort. Drysdale will also send out Sarafan, a classy 8-year-old gelding who has earned more than $2.6 million, but whose best days are behind him.

Owned by Walter Swinburn, Red Fort, a 5-year-old Green Desert gelding, is stretching out to 1 1/4 miles after running shorter distances in his first two races in the U.S. But he proved himself at 10 furlongs in Europe. The Irish-bred is two of five at the distance, including an eight-length victory in a listed race at Ascot last June 18.

Red Fort is a nose away from being unbeaten in California. He edged eventual Shoemaker Mile winner and 2003 Santa Anita Derby upsetter Castledale in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on March 17, then was beaten in a photo finish by stablemate King Of Happiness in the Inglewood Handicap on April 30.

Vangelis, who has only one win in seven starts since the beginning of last year, will be seeking to give trainer Bobby Frankel his third Whittingham victory since 1999. The 6-year-old gray will be ridden for the first time by Patrick Valenzuela, who is back today after being sidelined because of injuries suffered in a spill on May 8.

The field is completed by Pellegrino, who won the Hollywood Turf Cup at 10-1 odds Dec. 4 and has won three of five on the Hollywood Park turf course, Sweet Return, who has lost eight in a row since winning the 2004 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita, Deputy Lad, Stanley Park, Just Wonder and the Frankel-trained Continuously.

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Congrats, who hasn't raced since finishing fifth in the $6-million Dubai World Cup on March 26, is among 10 older horses scheduled to go 7 1/2 furlongs in the $75,000 Ack Ack Handicap today at Hollywood Park.

Trained by Richard Mandella for owner-breeders Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Congrats, a 5-year-old A.P. Indy horse, has won seven of 19. Tyler Baze will ride and he will break from the rail as the 121-pound highweight.

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