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HORSE RACING

Big Booster wins under Bejarano

June 02, 2008|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Rafael Bejarano, who continues to dominate the jockey standings at Hollywood Park, added another stakes win to his resume when favored Big Booster won the $102,802 Gallant Man Handicap on Sunday.

Some 24 hours after taking the more lucrative Californian with Heatseeker, Bejarano captured the spring-summer meet's longest race against only three opponents.

Shortening up to 1 5/8 miles after winning the San Juan Capistrano at about 1 3/4 miles on the Santa Anita turf course six weeks earlier, the 1-2 favorite was last for most of the trip but took over in the final eighth of a mile and won by two lengths despite drifting out approaching the wire.

"He can go this far and he clowns around when he makes the lead, but it was a good race," said Mike Mitchell, who trains the 7-year-old gelding for owners Scott and Wayne Anastasi and Jim Ukegawa. "You can't go by pace, you just have to let him run his race. I don't care how slow they are going, this is the way he wants to run, so you just wait and wait and wait."

The victory was the second of the day for Bejarano, who has 32 victories for the meet, a dozen more than runner-up Victor Espinoza.

Jade's Revenge, the 2-1 second choice, finished a nose in front of Tissy Fit, and Victorian Prince completed the order of finish. Marsh Side, Super Strut and Top This And That were all scratched.

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John Henry is the only horse to have won the race that is now called the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap more than once.

The legendary gelding won what was then labeled the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap three times, winning consecutively (1980-81) and again as a 9-year-old in 1984.

Two years removed from his victory in the Grade I, Lava Man will try to become a multiple winner of the Whittingham on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

A loser of four in a row since he won his third Hollywood Gold Cup in succession nearly one year ago, Lava Man, who will have a new jockey in Tyler Baze, is one of seven probables for the Whittingham, which is run at 1 1/4 miles.

The others considered likely to participate are Artiste Royal, Champs Elysees, Monzante, Mr. Wolverine, Plug Me In and Warning Zone.

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bob.mieszerski@latimes.com

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