HOLLYWOOD PARK : A Year Later, Win for Echo Of Yesterday

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Anybody who missed the 1993 On Trust Handicap at Hollywood Park was in luck Thursday. Echo Of Yesterday gave a repeat performance at Hollywood Park, winning the race restricted to California breds for the second consecutive year.

In the process, the 5-year-old Pirate's Bounty gelding equaled the stakes record he set last year (1:27 for the 7 1/2 furlongs) and remained unbeaten in four starts on the Hollywood Park main track.

Reserved off the pace by Chris McCarron, the 5-2 second choice took on 9-1 shot Softshoe Sure Shot in the stretch and won by just over a length.

Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Marty Wygod and trained by Ron Ellis, Echo Of Yesterday beat His Legacy by two lengths last year and now has 10 victories in 16 lifetime starts.

"This is one of the most honest horses I've ever ridden," McCarron said. "He's got talent and he's got a big heart. Every time he runs, you're going to have to beat him because he's going to lay his body down for you. He did today.

"Softshoe Sure Shot is not an easy horse to get by, but we got by him today."

Echo Of Yesterday is also a favorite of Ellis, who continues to be one of the highest percentage trainers on the local circuit.

"Marty (Wygod) was kidding me last year that I was too sentimental about this horse, always wanting to lay him up," Ellis said.

"So now I told him, he's right, I am a little sentimental about this horse. He's just a hard knocker who gives it his best every time. He's just a tiger and he fights it out every time."

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Pat Valenzuela did not have an auspicious return to the saddle and he may not be able to ride today after being thrown from Ataboy Chad in the ninth race on Thursday.

Unplaced with favored Preferred Road in the fourth and Snow Major in the sixth, Valenzuela suffered a deep bruise on his right leg just above the knee after being unseated at the start.

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Randy Romero, who retired July 4 and has been working horses at Hollywood Park preparing for a comeback, was named to ride Dangerous Scenario for trainer Bob Hess in the $250,000 Generous Stakes on Saturday.

Romero, 36, is staying with Jeff and Linda Lukas in Glendora and his wife, Cricket, and son, Randy, are expected to join him here soon.

"I didn't want to retire," said Romero, who had worked as a bloodstock agent in recent months.

"The reason I did it is because my knee was bothering me. I had an operation on (his right knee) in December and I rushed it coming back. It was my fault and when I got ready to ride it started bothering me more and more.

"The only way I could make myself have another operation was to quit, so I did that. I got my knee cleaned up with arthroscopic surgery by a doctor from the University of Kentucky and I worked out with (the basketball team) there. It was really fun and I decided I wanted to go back (to riding). I told my wife, 'I want to go back and I want to go to California.' She said, 'Go for it,' so here I am."

Romero has won three Breeders' Cup races and is the regular rider for the undefeated Personal Ensign. His agent will be Nick Cosato, who has formerly worked with Pat Valenzuela and Corey Black, among others.

Horse Racing Notes

Bertrando, who tired after setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup Classic, will ship to New York tonight, arrive there at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, then run in the $250,000 NYRA Mile later that day at Aqueduct. "He'll literally get off the plane and onto the track," said co-owner and breeder Ed Nahem. The NYRA Mile, which will be simulcast between the first and second races at Hollywood Park, will be the last start for Bertrando before he returns to stud. . . . There will also be a special 4 p.m. post today and there will be 13 live races, six of them maiden races. . . . Strodes Creek, who hasn't run since finishing third in the Belmont Stakes, worked a mile in 1:38 3/5 Wednesday morning. Also on the tab was Romarin, who will take on Slew of Damascus in the Hollywood Mile on Sunday. He went five furlongs in 1:02 2/5. . . . A field of 11 fillies and mares is probable for Sunday's $400,000 Matriarch at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. The probables are Aube Indienne, La Frontera, Las Meninas, Skimble, Zoonaqua, Alywow, Exchange, Fondly Remembered, Eternal Reve, Wandesta and Corrazona.

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