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Jul 06, 2006

Lava Man one to beat in Hollywood Gold Park


Inglewood, CA (Sports Network) - Lava Man, winner of the 2005 Hollywood Gold Cup, is expected to be a heavy favorite for Saturday's 67th renewal of the race at Hollywood Park. The 1 1/4 mile race has attracted a small field of five older horses.

Lava Man is undefeated in four starts this year and is a serious contender for Horse of the Year. The five-year-old gelding will take on four other older thoroughbreds on Saturday.

Owned by Jason Wood and STD Racing, Lava Man began 2006 by winning the Sunshine Millions Classic, the Santa Anita Handicap, the Khaled and Charlie Whittingham Handicap. The last two starts were on the turf. Lava Man is trained by Doug O'Neill.

"He might still have to win one in the East to be considered for that (Horse of the Year)," said O'Neill, looking to a defense in the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August as immediate objectives.

In the Hollywood Gold Cup, Lava Man will start from the inside post with Corey Nakatani again in the saddle. This year the gelding has earned $1,420,000 and almost $2.5 million in his career.

Magnum, runner-up in the Santa Anita Handicap, will start next to Lava Man in the two hole. The winner of the Lone Star Park Handicap, Magnum will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela.

Trained by Darrell Vienna for Herrick Racing, the five-year-old has won five of 17 lifetime starts for more than $600,000. After the Santa Anita Handicap Magnum then finished second in the Oaklawn Handicap to Buzzards Bay.

"He kind of got trapped at Oaklawn and didn't get loose until late," said Vienna. "He caught an off track at Lone Star, and he liked that."

Seek Gold, the surprise winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap, will start from post 3. The six-year-old gelding won the Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs as a 91-1 longshot. Seek Gold will be ridden by Calvin Borel.

Ron Moquett trains Seek Gold for Bowman Couch Racing. Seek Gold has earned $887,636 in 28 career starts with five wins.

Ace Blue and Super Frolic complete the field for the Gold Cup.

The Hollywood Gold Cup will be the 10th race on Saturday's program with a post-time of 7:50 p.m. (et). The race will be shown live on ESPN.

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