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Green Team turns to gold
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The progress of Green Team from $32,000 claimer to stakes winner in the last four months has caught trainer Jeff Bonde by surprise.
In four starts since being claimed, Green Team has won three races and earned $185,460. The wins range in value from a $40,000 claimer at Del Mar to the California Cup Sprint at Santa Anita last month.
Saturday, Green Team tries for his second stakes win in the $95,000 On Trust Handicap at Hollywood Park.
"He's definitely a Cinderella story," Bonde said. "I was looking for a horse that my clients could take to Del Mar."
Co-owned by Bonde and the Ferro Family Trust, Green Team carries 119 pounds in the On Trust, one less than topweight Grey Memo, who is winless in his last 12 starts. Other probables in an excellent race for statebreds are Calkins Road, Coconut Mango, Excess Summer, Hot Market, Kedington, and Ride and Shine.
The On Trust is run at 7 1/2 furlongs, a new distance for Green Team. A winner of 8 of 28 starts and $386,622, Green Team has not won beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, but did finish a game second in an allowance race at a mile last March at Golden Gate Fields.
"We feel he should be able to get the distance," Bonde said.
Green Team's turn of foot is arguably his best asset. He rallied from fourth at the eighth pole to win the six-furlong California Cup Sprint by two lengths. Last Friday, he worked six furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:10.20, the fastest of 15 works at the distance.
"You don't want to work too fast, but he did it pretty easily," Bonde said.
Bonde's main concern is the pace scenario of the On Trust.
Excess Summer has speed but has been running in longer races. Green Team could be closer than Bonde would prefer.
The 4-year-old Green Team's only loss for his new owners came in the six-furlong California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows on Oct. 4. He led at the eighth pole, but was outfinished by Trapper and was beaten a neck.
The performance convinced Bonde that Green Team is a late-running sprinter.
"It ended up being a race with no pace," Bonde said. "The rider had him too close to the pace. The main factor is he needs to take one shot."
Frankel's Malibu hopefuls work
Midas Eyes and Watchem Smokey, owner Ed Gann and trainer Bobby Frankel's hopes for the $250,000 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, worked at Hollywood on Wednesday.
Watchem Smokey, who won his first major stakes in the Grade 3 Underwood Stakes on Thanksgiving, worked a half-mile in 49 seconds, slightly quicker than Midas Eyes, who was timed in 49.20 seconds.
Midas Eyes finished second in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 29 and was eighth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Other Malibu candidates include Buddy Gil, the Santa Anita Derby winner; Cajun Beat, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita; During, the winner of the Swaps Stakes last summer; Posse, a multiple stakes winner trained by Steve Asmussen; Marino Marini, a stakes winner in Ireland last year; Toccet, who was third in the Cigar Mile; and Eugene's Third Son, the Arkansas Derby runner-up who has won two consecutive allowance races.
Peace Rules awaits Classic
Frankel said he considered starting Peace Rules, the winner of the Haskell Invitational and the 13th-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Mile, in the Malibu, but will point the 3-year-old to the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds at Santa Anita.
Peace Rules worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on Wednesday, the fastest of 26 recorded works at the distance.
Frankel will have five runners on the Sunshine Millions programs at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita on Jan. 24. He lists Midas Eyes as a contender for the $300,000 Sprint at Gulfstream, and has hopefuls in three others stakes at Santa Anita - Ice Wynnd Fire for the $250,000 Dash for 3-year-old sprinters; Madame Pietra for the $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint; and Betty's Wish for the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf.
Frankel will lead the nation's trainers in earnings for the second straight year. Through Tuesday, his starters had earned a record $18,887,539.
Two of Frankel's recent stakes winners at Hollywood will start in major stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Calder on Dec. 27.
Continuously, the winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup on Nov. 22, is being pointed for the $200,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap, while Lady Annaliese, the winner of the minor Hermosa Beach Handicap last weekend, will start in the $200,000 La Prevoyante Handicap.
Futurity coming up small
The Hollywood Futurity at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 20 will have a small field, a result to some extent by the presence of Lion Heart, an eight-length winner of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes last month.
Trained by Patrick Biancone, Lion Heart will be opposed by Saint Averil, Quiet Cash, and Saint Afleet in the Futurity, which has an estimated purse of $400,000.
Saint Afleet won an optional claimer at six furlongs last Sunday and would be trying two turns for the first time in the Grade 1 Futurity.
"I don't think he'll have any trouble going two turns," trainer Craig Dollase said. "I won't have trouble finding out for that kind of money."
Jockey race tightens
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela took off his mounts on Wednesday citing illness, according to track stewards.
The absence could jeopardize his status as the leading rider at the fall meeting.
Through Sunday, Valenzuela led the standings with 22 wins, but was closely followed by Victor Espinoza and Julie Krone with 19 wins.
Espinoza is riding in Hong Kong this week, but Krone had mounts in all eight of Wednesday's race. The meeting concludes on Dec. 21.
'Perfect' preps for San Antonio
Pleasantly Perfect, the upset winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, had his first workout since that race on Wednesday, breezing three furlongs in 38.60 seconds at Santa Anita
The exercise did not appear on the daily workout report.
Trained by Richard Mandella for Diamond A Racing, Pleasantly Perfect is being pointed for the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 31.