10/25/2006 11:00PM

2006 has been a strong year for Cal-breds


ARCADIA, Calif. - The way Lava Man has clobbered his competition this year there is little suspense as to which horse will be anointed the 2006 California-bred horse of the year.

Lava Man's unbeaten record in seven stakes, including five Grade 1 races, makes him the undisputed leader among statebreds this year. By far the leading older male, Lava Man has been so versatile that he will receive support for outstanding turf horse on the basis of his wins in the Khaled Stakes and Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

To end his 2006 campaign, Lava Man has had to go on the road. He is pre-entered in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, where a victory in a world-class field would assure him of the Eclipse Award as the nation's Horse of the Year.

For now, though, Lava Man tops a brilliant group of California-breds that won at the highest level throughout the world in 2006. The team is so strong that there are six California-breds other than Lava Man pre-entered in Breeders' Cup races. Some of those runners are likely to be named statebred champions for 2006.

Saturday at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, several other horses can gain support for championship titles during the California Cup program.

Here is a glance at the eight equine divisions, with the three leading championship candidates and their accomplishments this year. The candidates in each division are listed in alphabetical order.

Older males


Pedigree: Memo-Miss Excitement, by Rajab

Owner-breeders: Fred Carrillo and Daniel Cassella

Trainer: Bill Spawr

Lava Man

Pedigree: Slew City Slew-Li'l Ms. Leonard, by Nostalgia's Star

Breeders: Lonnie Arterburn, Eve and Kim Kuhlmann

Owners: STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood

Trainer: Doug O'Neill.

Lucky J.H.

Pedigree: Cee's Tizzy-Lucky C.H., by A.P. Indy

Owner-breeder: Harris Farm

Trainer: Carla Gaines

Lava Man has earned $2,770,000 in his seven stakes wins this year, which puts an end to the debate surrounding this division. He became the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic in the same season. By comparison, he won only two stakes last year.

Bordonaro has been a brilliant sprinter, winning 4 of 5 starts, including the Grade 1 Ancient Title BC Stakes earlier this month at Santa Anita. He is bound for the BC Sprint with a leading chance.

Bordonaro is a half-length from having an undefeated season, finishing just behind Pure as Gold in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in July. The race was mired in controversy after Bordonaro was struck in the face by a rival jockey's whip in early stretch.

Lucky J.H. was having an outstanding summer before he was sidelined by injury. He won the Tiznow Stakes and the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Hollywood Park in the spring, and has not started since. After fighting a foot problem during the summer, Lucky J.H. is being pointed for a return during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

Older females


Pedigree: Avenue of Flags-Ultrafleet, by Afleet

Breeders: John and Diane Fradkin

Owners: Leatherman Racing and Ran Jan Racing

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Moscow Burning

Pedigree: Moscow Ballet-Burning Desire, by Mr. Leader

Breeders: Harris Farms and Ken Maddy Trust

Owner: Don Van Racing

Trainer: Jim Cassidy

Dancing Edie

Pedigree: Moscow Ballet-Duchess of Ack, by Slewpy

Breeders: Fast Lane Farms and Donald Reiker

Owners: Paul Reddam, Julian Basin and Fast Lane Farms.

Trainer: Craig Dollase.

This is a remarkably deep group.

Dancing Edie won the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in the summer and was second in two other Grade 1 races - the Gamely Breeders' Cup Stakes in May and the Yellow Ribbon Stakes last month. She is bound for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs.

Moscow Burning was second by a nose in the John Mabee. A 6-year-old, she makes the final start of her career in Saturday's California Cup Distance Handicap, a race she won in 2003 and 2005. Moscow Burning won two restricted stakes early in the year - the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf and the Pro or Con Handicap.

While she is winless in her last six starts, Moscow Burning's position among California-breds is secure. She has earned $1,411,800, the highest in history for a statebred female.

Cambiocorsa has made a career of racing on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita. She seeks her ninth consecutive win, and fifth stakes win, on that course in Saturday's California Cup Distaff.

Proposed, a 4-year-old, had an outstanding first half of the year, winning three stakes. The highlights of her campaign were wins in the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita and Grade 2 Milady BC Handicap at Hollywood Park.

The northern California-based fillies Somethinaboutlaura and Vaca City Flyer deserve mention. Somethinaboutlaura has won three stakes this year, including the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park in July. She starts in Saturday's California Cup Matron. Vaca City Flyer won five consecutive races earlier this year, a streak that included four stakes wins.



Pedigree: Memo-Miss Excitement, by Rajab

Owner-breeders: Fred Carrillo and Daniel Cassella

Trainer: Bill Spawr

Proud Tower Too

Pedigree: Proud Irish-Dora's Tower, by Irish Tower

Owner-breeder: Tricar Stables

Trainer: Sal Gonzalez

Thor's Echo

Pedigree: Swiss Yodeler-Helen of Troy, Mr. Integrity

Breeders: Fast Lane Farms, Block and Forman

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Bordonaro has the edge in this division, having won the Sunshine Millions Sprint and Count Fleet Sprint Handicap in the early months of the year and the Ancient Title earlier this month. A gelding with devastating speed, he is considered a leading candidate for the BC Sprint.

Proud Tower Too was considered a BC Sprint candidate early in the year, but was found to have a bone chip in an ankle in June. He has not started since winning the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai in March and is being pointed for a 2007 campaign.

Before the win in Dubai, Proud Tower Too beat statebreds in the Sensational Star Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

Thor's Echo is winless in five starts this year, but has been second in two Grade 1 races - the Golden Shaheen and Ancient Title - and the Sensational Star Handicap. Despite going winless, he has earned $508,737. Thor's Echo starts as an outsider in the BC Sprint.

Areyoutalkintome was pre-entered for the BC Sprint, but is on the also-eligible list and may not get to run. Areyoutalkintome has won 2 of 12 starts this year. He won the restricted Pirate's Bounty Handicap at Del Mar and has placed in four graded stakes.

Da Stoops, 3, won the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash for California-breds and Florida-breds in January but has lost three subsequent starts in sprints.



Pedigree: Avenue of Flags-Ultrafleet, by Afleet

Breeders: John and Diane Fradkin

Owners: Leatherman Racing and Ran Jan Racing

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Dancing Edie

Pedigree: Moscow Ballet-Duchess of Ack, by Slewpy

Breeders: Fast Lane Farms and Donald Reiker

Owners: Paul Reddam, Julian Basin, and Fast Lane Farms.

Trainer: Craig Dollase.

Lava Man

Pedigree: Slew City Slew-Li'l Ms. Leonard, by Nostalgia's Star

Breeders: Lonnie Arterburn, Eve and Kim Kuhlmann

Owner: STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood

Trainer: Doug O'Neill.

The Grade 1 victories from Lava Man and Dancing Edie are likely to be looked upon by voters as superior to the consistent form of Cambiocorsa.

While Lava Man is best known for his success on the main track, his form on turf was brilliant during the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. He won the Khaled Stakes in April instead of traveling to Pimlico for the Pimlico Special in May.

In an effort to give him a start before the Hollywood Gold Cup, he started in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf and beat a decent group.

Those wins may be enough to earn him the turf title, unless Dancing Edie finishes in the first three in the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

Dancing Edie has already earned $513,400 this year. There is only one championship for turf horses among statebreds, regardless of sex. If a category existed for fillies and mares, Dancing Edie would be a landslide winner.

El Don and Super Strut have had excellent years against statebred company and are entered in the California Cup Mile.

Super Strut has been in the first three in six of seven starts. He won the Crystal Water Handicap against statebreds in March and was third behind Lava Man in the Khaled and third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap.

El Don won the San Matean and California Dreamin' handicaps but struggled against graded stakes company.


Brother Derek

Pedigree: Benchmark-Miss Soft Sell, by Siyah Kalem

Breeder: Mary Caldwell

Owner: Cecil Peacock

Trainer: Dan Hendricks

Da Stoops

Pedigree: Distorted Humor-Glamorous Lady, by Kingdom of Spain

Breeder: Malibu Valley Farm

Owners: Karl Watson and Paul Weitman

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Sam's Ace

Pedigree: In Excess-Queen of Pain, by Meadowlake

Breeder: Patricia Monroe

Owners: Paul Reddam and Aron Wellman

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

This division belongs to Brother Derek, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby, San Rafael, and Santa Catalina Stakes in the first four months of the year. He later finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and second to Lava Man in the Goodwood BC Handicap.

Brother Derek, who starts in the BC Classic, has earned $906,378 in seven starts this year, second only to Lava Man in seasonal earnings for a statebred.

Da Stoops, a starter in the California Cup Sprint, won two $250,000 restricted stakes early in the year - the Sunshine Millions Dash in January and the Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park in April. In five other starts, he was never worse than third, including a third in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park in July.

Sam's Ace finished fourth in the Florida Derby earlier this year, and suffered a career-ending injury in the Snow Chief Stakes. He resides on a horse retirement farm, O'Neill said.

Another 3-year-old that deserves mention is Bold Chieftain, who made few starts. Third in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows in January, he later finished third in the Real Good Deal Stakes and won an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields.

3-year-old fillies

Getback Time

Pedigree: Gilded Time-Shay, by Incinderator

Breeder: J & L Stable

Owners: Derenzis and Vanderham

Trainer: Rafael Becerra

She's an Eleven

Pedigree: In Excess-Siberian Express, by She's a Sensation

Breeders: Old English Rancho and Joe Turner

Owner: CRK Stables

Trainer: John Sadler

Silly Little Mama

Pedigree: Old Topper-White Truffle, by Dehere

Breeder: Tommy Town Thoroughbreds

Owner: Stacy Campo

Trainer: Dan McFarlane

Compared to 2005, when the Grade 1 winner Leave Me Alone led the division, this has been a weak group. Few of these fillies figured prominently in open company.

So far, She's an Eleven has earned the most money, $184,204, winning 2 of 6 starts. She won the Melair Stakes at Hollywood Park in April, but later finished fifth in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico and fourth in the Grade 2 Hollywood BC Oaks.

Getback Time turned out to be an outstanding $40,000 claim in April. She subsequently won three overnight races and placed in two stakes at Del Mar - the Fleet Treat Stakes for statebreds and the Torrey Pines Stakes against open company. She is entered in the California Cup Matron.

Silly Little Mama won the Manhattan Beach Stakes for 3-year-old female turf sprinters at Hollywood Park in May and two stakes at Turf Paradise early in the year. She was best in sprints.

Bai and Bai, second to She's an Eleven in the Melair, won a stakes in northern California early in the year but did not start after the Melair.

River's Prayer, a hopeful for the California Cup Distaff, has had a limited campaign. She won the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar in July but unseated jockey Clinton Potts at the start of the Torrey Pines Stakes.


Pirates Deputy

Pedigree: Bertrando-Winter House, by Deputy Minister

Breeders: Marty Wygod and John Spohler

Owners: Lanni Family Trust and Bernie Schiappa

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Spot the Diplomat

Pedigree: Worldly Manner-Scare Tactics, by Moscow Ballet

Owner-breeder: Harris Farms

Trainer: Carla Gaines

Super Image

Pedigree: High Brite-To B. Super, by To B. Or Not

Breeder: Vessels Stallion Farm

Owners: Theresa and Edward DeNike

Trainer: Lloyd Mason

The California Cup Juvenile will play a major role in determining the champion of this division. Pirates Deputy, Spot the Diplomat, and Super Image are entered in the California Cup Juvenile.

Spot the Diplomat must be considered the division leader. He won two sprint stakes at Del Mar - the Graduation and I'm Smokin Stakes - before finishing third in the Grade 2 Norfolk BC Stakes earlier this month. He has earned $206,280, far more than his rivals in the California Cup Juvenile.

Pirates Deputy is making his California debut in the Juvenile. He won the Gottstein Futurity at Emerald Downs in his last start for owners Sue Villyard, Brennan Shapiro, and Ben Tweedy, and then was sold privately. The Gottstein was his first win in four starts.

Super Image is a very fast sprinter. He has won his last three starts by four lengths or more, including the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa in August. The Juvenile will be his first start around two turns.

Street Lights, second to Super Image in an allowance race earlier this month and to Spot the Diplomat in the I'm Smokin Stakes, was entered in the Pinjara Stakes on turf on Thursday. He is another promising juvenile from the Harris Farms-Gaines team.

2-year-old fillies

Ces't Mark

Pedigree: Benchmark-Ces't Si Vite, by Brocco

Breeders: Millard and Shirey

Owners: Jose and Melissa Silva

Trainer: Jose Silva

Mistical Plan

Pedigree: Game Plan-Mistical Bel, by Bel Bolide

Breeder: Carol Anderson

Owner: Paul Reddam

Trainer: Doug O'Neill


Pedigree: Lord Carson-Holiday Sale, by Boundary

Breeders: Jack and Barbara Hatch

Owners: George Schmitt and Philip Lebherz

Trainer: Jeff Bonde

This is a division whose leader will not be decided until later in the year. The three leading contenders for the championship are not entered in Saturday's California Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Of course, Saturday's race will have an impact on the title chase as will major open stakes in coming months. Mistical Plan, the winner of the Cover Gal Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting earlier this month, is pre-entered for the BC Juvenile Fillies. She is more likely to start in Sunday's Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, O'Neill said.

Ces't Mark has earned the most prize money among statebred juvenile fillies, $117,054. She won the CTBA Stakes at Del Mar, but is winless in three subsequent stakes.

Prenuptial, who has earned $92,440, won the Generous Portion Stakes at Del Mar, but finished sixth in the Cover Gal. She is a starter in the Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Sharoana, a winner of $98,648, won the Alameda County Fair Futurity at Pleasanton in July, and was third in the CTBA and Generous Portion Stakes at Del Mar.

Spenditallbaby ($96,235) is improving as the distances increase. She finished second in the Black Swan Stakes at Fairplex Park and was fourth in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf BC Stakes on Sept. 30. She was entered for Friday's Hidden Light Stakes.

Miss Melissa, a candidate for the Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies, has never been worse than second in four starts. She ran second in the Bustles and Bows Stakes at Fairplex Park last month over 1 1/16 miles.