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Weekend Racing at Hollywood Park : Clever Song vs. Al Mamoon--and Ferdinand

Times Staff Writer

The last time they raced, two weeks ago at Hollywood Park, just a head separated Clever Song and Al Mamoon as they ran 1-2 in the Premiere Handicap.

They will run against one another again Sunday, this time in the $160,700 John Henry Handicap. Under ordinary circumstances, the pair could be expected to repeat the stretch duel that highlighted the earlier race.

But as usual in racing, some new factors have been added to the equation.

First and foremost is the inclusion of Ferdinand in the field of six. The 1986 Kentucky Derby winner will be making his second start on grass, his initial effort having resulted in a fourth-place finish in the San Luis Rey Stakes March 29 at Santa Anita.

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Then, too, there has been a switch of jockeys on Al Mamoon. Gary Stevens blamed himself for permitting the chestnut 6-year-old to drift off the rail in the Premiere, allowing Fernando Toro to slip Clever Song through to steal the lead and the race.

In Sunday’s John Henry, the first of 10 Grade I races at the Hollywood Park meeting, Al Mamoon’s former rider, Pat Valenzuela, will be back aboard the grandson of Secretariat. Valenzuela had lost the mount after consecutive disappointing finishes last year in the Arlington Million and the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Despite the presence of two millionaires in the small field--Al Mamoon has won 10 of 31 races and earned $1,164,889, and Ferdinand is 4 for 17 with $1,486,578 in purses--Clever Song may well be favored.

Trained by John Gosden, who leads the trainer standings at Hollywood Park, the 5-year-old bay gelding has finished out of the money only once in his last 10 starts. Under Toro, he has won 4 of his last 10. Overall, he is 13 for 24 with earnings of $454,547.

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Ferdinand, trained by Charlie Whittingham and ridden by Bill Shoemaker, will be the high-weight in the 1 1/8-mile race, carrying 123 pounds. Shoemaker finished third aboard Le Belvedere in the Premiere but will switch to Ferdinand Sunday, with Chris McCarron picking up the mount on Le Belvedere.

The complete field for the John Henry Handicap, with jockey and weight, from the inside post out: Skip Out Front, Gary Stevens, 114 pounds; Clever Song, Fernando Toro, 120; Eve’s Error, Eddie Delahoussaye, 114; Le Belvedere, Chris McCarron, 113; Al Mamoon, Pat Valenzuela, 121; Ferdinand, Bill Shoemaker, 123.

Today’s feature, the $75,000-added Grade II Hawthorne Handicap, has attracted half a dozen fillies, headed by 1986 Eclipse Award winner Tiffany Lass.

The dark bay daughter of Bold Forbes is unbeaten in eight starts and scored her most recent victory in the Silver Spoon Handicap at Hollywood Park April 29.

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