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History challenge: Hollywood Park a launching point for several stars
By Ron Hale
Hollywood Park will conclude its autumn meeting Saturday with the 32nd running of the CashCall Futurity.
Called the Hollywood Futurity until 2007, the race was first contested in 1981, when the California racing calendar was expanded to include an end-of-the-year Thoroughbred meeting at Hollywood Park. When Roving Boy parlayed a victory in the second running in 1982 to an Eclipse Award as top juvenile male, Hollywood officials increased the purse the following year to $1 million-added, making it not only the richest race run in 1983, but the first seven-figure race ever run for 2-year-olds. The aim was to make the Hollywood Futurity a major factor in deciding each year’s 2-year-old champion. Unfortunately for the track, the Breeders’ Cup was born the following year.
Hollywood Park, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year, did not see many champion juveniles in its early years, mostly because the best horses began their careers on the East Coast and stayed there. In the track’s first four decades, only two future national champions in any category made their career debut at Hollywood Park. This began to change in the 1980s, and in the last decade, numerous champions have begun their careers at what is now Betfair Hollywood Park, including recent Hall of Fame inductee Ghostzapper and future Hall of Famer Zenyatta.
Test your knowledge of past champions who made their debut at Hollywood Park.
1. Swaps was the first horse to make his debut at Hollywood Park and go on to win a national championship. At odds of 12-1, he romped by three lengths May 20, 1954. Fifty weeks later, Swaps won the 81st Kentucky Derby.
Nashua was champion juvenile male of 1954 and 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year in 1955, but Swaps was champion older male and Horse of the Year in 1956.
It wasn’t until three years later that a horse who made his career debut at Hollywood Park would finish that season being voted champion juvenile male. Name him.
2. It was nearly another quarter century before a horse who made her debut at Hollywood Park claimed a 2-year-old championship.
This sensational filly was from the first crop of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Bred at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky., she brought a final bid of $650,000 at the 1981 Keeneland July select yearling sale. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the dark bay or brown filly won all five of her starts at age 2 by a combined total of more than 46 lengths.
In Eclipse Award voting, she was the overwhelming choice for champion 2-year-old filly and finished in a three-way tie for Horse of the Year, losing in a tiebreaker to Conquistador Cielo. Name her.
3. This national champion juvenile filly of 1983 was a throwback to the time before the 1950s, when top females regularly ran against males.
In 15 lifetime starts, this filly raced against males five times. After winning her first start by more than six lengths at Hollywood Park at age 2, she beat the boys by 10 lengths in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and by more than six lengths in the Del Mar Futurity.
The next season, she captured the Arkansas Derby by seven lengths in 1:46.80, crushing the track record – an effort that made her the favorite in the Kentucky Derby. Name her.
4. After finishing off the board in his first career start, which came at Hollywood Park, this bay colt broke his maiden in his third start at Turfway Park (formerly Latonia Race Course) in Kentucky. He did not win for the second time until his 11th career start, when he came from far back to capture the fabled Kentucky Derby by a half-length.
Although he was eligible for “nonwinners other than,” his win was not a major surprise in the Louisville classic. At age 2, he had been second in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and second in the Hollywood Futurity. Name him.
5. Few top older horses are successful at both sprinting and routing. Greats such as Dr. Fager and Forego were exceptions to the rule.
While perhaps not in the league of those two titans, this Florida-bred champion who began his career winning his debut at Hollywood Park by 7 1/2 lengths was still winning graded stakes at age 7.
He competed in the first running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic at age 3, came back the following year to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and returned a year later to finish third in the third running of the Classic. Name him.
See the answers HERE.
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