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SHE'S BURNING UP THE FIELD.

Byline: KEVIN MODESTI HORSE RACING

INGLEWOOD -- An old punk girl will be fitted

for a formal gown Saturday at Hollywood Park when Moscow Burning tries to set a record by winning the Beverly Hills Handicap.

``She was quite a tough little girl to deal with,'' said trainer Jim Cassidy, remembering how Moscow Burning acted when she joined his barn about three years ago. ``The first time I put a (jockey) on her, she tried to put (Victor) Espinoza over the inside rail. It was so hard to get her to train that I had to get my fat butt out there and jog along with her on foot. I went through five exercise riders before I found one who was willing to ride her.''

That was 25 races, nine victories and more than $1 million ago.

``She's come around quite a bit,'' Cassidy said from Santa Anita. ``Now you could sleep in the stall with her.''

Before the boys take the spotlight again for the July 8 Hollywood Gold Cup, fillies and mares are getting a few weekends of attention at Hollywood Park in a stretch that began with Hysterically's Hollywood Oaks victory June11 and will continue with the July 1 CashCall Mile on turf, A Gleam Invitational sprint and Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-olds; and the July 2 American Oaks for 3-year-olds on turf and Vanity Handicap.

The $150,000 Beverly Hills, for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/4 miles on turf, could produce a bit of local history.

Moscow Burning, a 6-year-old bred by Harris Farms and the Ken Maddy Trust, has earned $1,287,000 in a 28-race career that includes 11 victories. If she adds the Beverly Hills' $90,000 winner's purse, she'll break the record for career earnings by a California-bred female thoroughbred.

Fran's Valentine holds the record with $1,375,465 in 34races (13 victories) in the 1980s. Her contemporary Brown Bess is second with $1,300,920.

Fran's Valentine would have banked another $450,000 if she hadn't been disqualified from first to 10th in the 1984 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Hollywood Park.

But it's not as if Moscow Burning, a daughter of Moscow Ballet and Burning Desire, hasn't faced obstacles on her way to being a millionaire.

After debuting with a win at the $12,500 claiming level in May 2003, Moscow Burning was claimed for $25,000 at Bay Meadows by Cassidy client Don Van Kempen. In her first start for Cassidy, the filly overcame a lot of trouble to finish second in a Del Mar allowance race. That's the fighting style she's shown often while winning a GradeII stakes at Belmont Park, twoCalifornia Cup races and one of this year's rich Sunshine Millions races -- and running gamely to finish fourth against the best of her gender in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf and against males in the 2004 Hollywood Turf Cup.

Moscow Burning won three of her first four starts after returning from a pelvis fracture last fall. She was third in her last race, giving eight pounds to the winner.

With David Flores and a race-high 121 pounds, the mare is part of a nine-horse field with Dream Lady and Eternal Melody, both trying to give trainer Bobby Frankel his third consecutive Beverly Hills.

``She's just very, very tough,'' Cassidy said. ``If she runs her race (Saturday), in my mind she's unbeatable.''

A stubborn one: The cloned mules who made national news with their debut victories June 3 in Winnemucca, Nev., had very different results Wednesday at the Stockton fair.

Idaho Gem won a $5,000 mule race, but twin Idaho Star had to be scratched after dumping the jockey and running off before the start.

The Daily Racing Form's Steve Andersen makes a good point: ``If one of them ran off, shouldn't the other have run off?''

Time machines: Hollywood Park fans should root for a bill introduced this week in the California Assembly that would permit the state's racetracks to run video gambling machines and use the revenue to pump up race purses.

It's just the sort of legislative action that could buy time for Hollywood Park, whose new owners have threatened since last summer to close the 68-year-old landmark in three years if they fail to win economic relief for the racing industry.

Such machines, which allow customers to wager on videotaped horse races, apparently conform to state law because the betting is parimutuel. That is, players bet against each other, not against the house.

``No question we're going to have stern opposition (from Indian casinos),'' said Rick Baedeker, the former Hollywood Park president who heads the lobbying effort. ``But if (the law is enacted and) the marketplace responds, we can double purses for racing in California, which is the promised land.''

Unearthed: Hollywood Park announced details of plans for replacing the traditional soil main track with a synthetic racing surface before its autumn season opens Nov. 1.

Under a deal with England-based Equestrian Surfaces, installation of the surface known as Cushion Track will begin after the July16 close of the current meet and is expected to cost about $8 million. The surface consists of wax-coated synthetic fibers, elastic fiber and granulated rubber. It will be laid over a new drainage system consisting of 4 1/2miles of pipe, and a porous base.

Hollywood Park will become the first to comply with a law passed in May by the California legislature requiring the state's tracks to put in synthetic surfaces, which have seemed to reduce horse injuries at Turfway Park in Kentucky and overseas facilities.

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OUT OF THE GATE

- Kevin Modesti and Associated Press
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 23, 2006
Words:951
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