Updated on 09/16/2011 9:44AM

Delta Form, world traveler

Delta Form, here winning the Del Mar Handicap, was once considered for the Japan Cup. He will face 10 rivals in the Turf Cup, including Cetewayo and Special Matter.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Delta Form, the Australian-bred who won a major race in South Africa before arriving in the United States last year, is seeking his first Grade 1 win in the 1 1/2-mile, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup on Saturday.

But it is only a prep to yet another stop on an ongoing world tour - the $1.8 million Hong Kong Vase on Dec. 15.

Six months ago, Delta Form's participation in such top-class marathon turf races would have seemed unlikely. He was slow to recover from a severe bout of pneumonia, which was followed by problems with allergies, trainer Jenine Sahadi said.

It was not until Delta Form pulled a 20-1 upset in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Sept. 1 and returned to finish third in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Belmont Park that he showed his best ability.

"I think he's a fitter horse and he's turned the corner," Sahadi said. "This is $250,000 and it's his distance."

A start in the Japan Cup this weekend was considered earlier this fall, but the Hong Kong race is considered a more realistic goal, according to Barry Irwin, the president of the Team Valor syndicate that shares ownership of Delta Form with Gary Barber.

"I don't think we could win a race like that," Irwin said. "It could be too tough. At this stage what we want to do is win."

The Turf Cup drew 11 runners, six of whom are stakes winners this year. Delta Form is likely to be a slight favorite, but Cetewayo, Rochester, and Special Matter will be well-backed.

Cetewayo and Rochester are shipping from the East Coast.

Cetewayo has won three stakes this year, including the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap in February. An 8-year-old trained by Michael Dickinson, Cetewayo was second in the Sky Classic Handicap at Woodbine on Oct. 27.

Rochester is making his debut in a Grade 1 stakes. A 6-year-old, Rochester has won his last two starts - the Kentucky Cup Handicap at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 21 and the Sycamore Breeders' Cup Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 6. Jonathan Sheppard trains Rochester.

Special Matter was second in a $12,500 claiming race on dirt here last May, the day he was claimed and turned over to trainer Rafael Becerra.

Since then, Special Matter has raced exclusively on turf, winning three of six starts. On Oct. 27, he pulled a 9-1 upset in a modest field in the Grade 2 Carleton Burke Handicap at Santa Anita, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of Alyzig, a former sprinter who starts in the Turf Cup.

Special Matter carried 110 pounds in the Burke, but will pack the same 126 pounds in the Turf Cup as all the runners.

Grammarian and Nazirali are seeking to replicate performances from earlier this year. Grammarian pulled a 29-1 upset in the Sunset Handicap over this course and distance last July, but has not won a stakes since. He is expected to set the pace, but will be closely followed by Sligo Bay and Special Matter.

Nazirali won the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita in February, but was turned out following the race. At Oak Tree, he was fourth in the Clement Hirsch Memorial and the Carleton Burke Handicap.

Sahadi also starts Williams News, who finished third in an allowance race at Santa Anita last month, his lone start this year following a 10-month break after a fourth-place finish in the 2001 Turf Cup.

Sligo Bay is trying 1 1/2 miles for the first time in 16 career starts, and is coming off a two-length win in optional claimer at Santa Anita on Oct. 18.

Trained by Beau Greely, Sligo Bay won the Grade 3 Cinema Handicap here in May 2001 and was later second in the Oak Tree and Hollywood derbies.

"He looks like he's back in good form," Greely said. "He seems to like this course."

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