Even though Arcangues was an easy winner of the $154,050 John Henry Handicap in his first start since his 133-1 shocker in the Breeders' Cup Classic nearly six months earlier, his handlers had to sweat for a couple of minutes.
Stewards Pete Pedersen, Ingrid Fermin and Tom Ward conducted an inquiry into an incident involving Arcangues and eventual runner-up Misil on the far turn, but made no change in the order of finish.
Ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, the 3-2 favorite's victory margin was only a half-length, but this was deceptive because Delahoussaye took a hold of him approaching the wire. He completed the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47 1/5.
Arcangues' return was a nice going away present for trainer Richard Mandella, who took over the horse when owner Daniel Wildenstein decided to keep him in training late last year.
Mandella left at 11 p.m. Sunday night for Louisville, where he will oversee Soul Of The Matter's final preparation for the Kentucky Derby.
"From the angles we had on the cameras here (for the inquiry), I couldn't tell a whole lot what happened. . . . how far they were off the rail and that," Mandella said. "We were hoping he would come back good like he was when he left, and this is a nice sign.
"We'll run hopefully in the (Hollywood) Turf Handicap (on May 30) and a month after that is the Hollywood Gold Cup. Those are the plans right now, and we'll go from there."
Third behind pacesetter Kingdom Found and Earl Of Barking, who had moved from last to fourth along the rail on the turn, Arcangues did come in slightly on Misil, bided his time, then split Kingdom Found and Earl Of Barking in the stretch and went on to his sixth victory in 17 starts.
"He ran just great," Delahoussaye said. "He's genuine. When he changed leads (around the turn), he kind of fell in and I grabbed him immediately. They brushed a little, but I don't believe (Misil) would have beaten my horse. My horse won in hand.
"This horse looks great. I think he looks better now than he did when he won the Breeders' Cup."
Misil, making his second U.S. start, finished 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Earl Of Barking, who finished 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Kingdom Found, who was lugging out most of the way.
Jockey Corey Nakatani, sidelined since suffering a broken right ankle on April 2 at Santa Anita, might return Friday.
"He's way ahead of schedule," agent Bob Meldahl said. "He goes to his doctor (today) and if they decide that the cast can come off, he could be able to ride by Friday."
Nakatani was injured when Flying Marfa, making the second start of his life, ducked into the rail and unseated him. Nakatani bounced off the rail, then landed on the protective netting over the drainage ditch inside the fence.
Horse Racing Notes
Jockey Goncalino Almeida will be sidelined about six weeks after suffering a broken left collarbone Sunday. Almeida was injured when he was dumped by Heza Green galloping out after the finish of the fifth race. . . . Hollywood Park will offer the first 2-year-old race of the meeting on Wednesday. Carded at 4 1/2 furlongs, it will be the second race of the day and the probable favorite is Venus Genus, who is trained by Brian Mayberry. . . . Sal Gonzalez Jr. rode for the last time as an apprentice Sunday and will begin his career as a journeyman on Wednesday. He is to ride five horses. . . . Hollywood Park will offer betting on the Kentucky Derby and five other stakes from Churchill Downs on Saturday. The first of the five stakes--the American Turf--will be run at 10 a.m. local time. . . . There were seven scratches off the program and only 58 horses ran in the nine live races Sunday. There were only five starters in the third and four in the fifth and eighth.