Horseplayers who couldn't care less about Woodbine, Stockton, Golden Gate Fields or Los Alamitos, or simply don't like betting on simulcasts, will still have plenty of betting opportunities this weekend at Hollywood Park.
For the first time, the track will offer consecutive 14-race cards on Saturday and Sunday, meaning that with tonight's nine-race program, there will be 37 live races between 7 tonight and 7:30 Sunday night.
Those who are thinking overkill, however, are reminded that were will actually be one fewer race run this "race week" than normal. During a normal five-day week, Hollywood Park offers 47 races--nine on weekdays and 10 on weekends--but there will be 46 during this four-day week.
Perhaps, if the track is satisfied with the way things go Saturday and Sunday, there could be more four-day weeks--Thursday through Sunday--in Hollywood Park's future. Santa Anita had some preliminary discussions about going to four days last year, but nothing changed.
"We want to experiment by offering our races when the majority of fans are available to see them," said R.D. Hubbard, Hollywood Park's chairman and chief executive officer. "The fan committee overwhelmingly endorsed this idea. It'll give us an idea how a four-day calendar would work in the future."
Hollywood Park's first proposal for this weekend was to have a doubleheader on Saturday. In other words, run a card at the normal 1 p.m. start, finish about 5:30, then have another card starting at 7.
However, the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the industry's 13-member fan committee, made up of people who aren't employed in horse racing and have no financial stake in the sport, thought the two 14-race programs were a better idea.
"The TOC is interested in experimenting to see what the public likes best and what will attract new patrons," TOC President Ed Friendly said earlier this year. "We want to see what we can do to make the sport more pleasant for fans and to increase purses."
According to Rick Baedeker, Hollywood Park's vice president for marketing and public relations, the track has done little promotion for the weekend, wanting to let the two days stand on their own. With a giveaway, the attendance figures would be distorted.
"We're going to treat them just like other weekend days," he said. "We don't want to guess [about attendance estimates]."
A total of 118 horses were entered Thursday morning for the Saturday card, which means there's an average of 8.5 starters a race. There were 82 entrants--before scratches--on Thursday's nine-race program.
Corey Nakatani will be at Thistledown on Saturday to ride Dazzling Falls in the $300,000 Ohio Derby.
Garrett Gomez had been the regular rider for the 3-year-old, who has three derby victories this year, but Gomez, 23, left Oaklawn Park earlier this week, saying he was tired of riding, and it is uncertain whether he will return.
Trained by Chuck Turco, Dazzling Falls has won the Arkansas, Remington Park and Alabama derbies and finished 13th of 19 in the Kentucky Derby.
The others scheduled to run in the 1 1/8-mile Ohio Derby are Oliver's Twist, who ran a troubled second behind Timber Country in the Preakness, Petionville, Da Hoss, I Still Believe, Wishful Song and Is Sveikatas.
Petionville, who was flown to Ohio Tuesday after working five furlongs in 1:02 Monday morning at Santa Anita, will have a new rider Saturday. Pat Day takes over for Chris Antley.
There will be a carry-over in the Pick Six tonight of $85,511.81 after a series of upsets on a rainy Thursday at Hollywood Park.
The biggest surprise was provided by British Bauble, who paid $74.20 in winning the eighth race.
In scoring for only the third time in 28 starts, the 4-year-old Kris S. filly gave David LaCroix his first victory since he returned to California after nearly three years away.
LaCroix left in 1992 to work at his family's Meadowbrook Farms in Florida. He trained last summer at Calder, then decided to return to this area.
Alex Solis rode British Bauble, who was one of five winners in the Pick Six that paid in double figures.
Horse Racing Notes
Eddie Delahoussaye will not ride this week after complaining of abdominal pains. . . . Trainer Gary Jones turns 51 today. . . . Lakeway, the best 3-year-old filly in the nation for most of 1994, had her first workout Thursday morning as she gets ready to come back to the races from lung problems. She went three furlongs in 36 1/5.
Kent Desormeaux and Corey Nakatani both had two winners Thursday. . . . At the moment, eight are considered probable for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 2--Concern, Tossofthecoin, Tinners Way, Best Pal, Urgent Request, Blumin Affair, Let's Be Curious and Del Mar Dennis. There is still a chance Cigar, the nation's top handicap horse, will come west for the race. A winner of eight in a row, Cigar broke his maiden at Hollywood Park in a six-furlong dirt sprint on May 9, 1993.