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Hollywood Hit climbing the charts
Each week Dan Illman will select a "Performance of the Week" based on a horse's speed figure, trip, and the quality of competition faced.
Racing fans cannot be faulted if they are underwhelmed by the state of the sprint division. Aside from Royal Ascot-bound Kinsale King, who won the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, the rest of the sprinters in the Watchmaker Watch top 10 in the May 11 edition of Daily Racing Form are either unproven at the very top level or have disappointed in recent starts.
Vineyard Haven (No. 1) shows only a solitary three-furlong breeze in 2010. Cash Refund (3) has yet to start in a graded stakes. Gayego (4) and Euroears (10) are both winless in their last three races. Capt. Candyman Can (5) is on the disabled list. Atta Boy Roy (9) earned his graded victory against Warrior's Reward (6) and Musket Man (7) over sloppy going. Custom for Carlos (8) lacks Grade 1 experience.
If you're searching for a new shooter in what appears a wide-open division, look no further than Hollywood Hit, a 4-year-old gelding who has finished first in his last six races, including a track-record 114 Beyer performance in last Sunday's Vigil Stakes over Woodbine's Polytrack surface.
Hollywood Hit is an Oklahoma-bred son of the undefeated Cactus Ridge, who went 4 for 4 as a 2-year-old of 2003. Cactus Ridge's big win came in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity around a one-turn mile at Arlington Park.
Hollywood Hit's dam, Solid Hit (by Time for a Change), failed to win after 12 starts, but has already foaled stakes-winning sprinters Homefield Hit (98 Beyer in winning the Remington Park Sprint Championship in 2001) and Hosanna Hit (won the six-furlong Silver Spur Breeders' Cup at Lone Star in 2005). Solid Hit has also dropped The Hitman, a stakes-placed sprinter at six furlongs at Oaklawn Park.
Hollywood Hit failed to win in his first three races for owner-breeder-trainer C. R. Trout before graduating in gate-to-wire fashion over "good" going in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Oaklawn Park on March 14, 2009. He hinted at some potential in this race as he set a pressured pace along the rail before putting the betting favorite away on the turn.
Nineteen days later, Hollywood Hit returned to the track in an entry-level optional claimer in the slop. He ran another good race, putting away an early pace challenger before falling three-quarters of a length short behind Kensei. That foe proved his quality with a pair of graded stakes wins in New York during the summer of 2009.
Hollywood Hit wore front wraps for his next start, a first-level allowance at Lone Star on May 8, but he continued to improve, stopping the timer in 1:08.31 for the 7 3/4 length romp at six furlongs. Hollywood Hit again faced early pressure, but was clear turning for home, and he won with a minimum of fuss despite being a tad late with his final lead change.
The 100 Beyer victory attracted tons of attention and Hollywood Hit was purchased privately by Peter Redekop. Hollywood Hit was shipped north of the border and placed under the care of high-percentage trainer Terry Jordan. He hasn't finished behind another horse during his time in Canada.
Despite a lack of synthetic experience, Hollywood Hit was sent off as the preferred part of an odds-on coupled entry in a seven-furlong second-level optional claimer at Woodbine on July 19 of last year. He simply ran his rivals off his feet, opening up a big lead after a swift quarter of 22.18 before allowing them an opportunity to catch up after a half of 44.80. For a brief moment turning for home, it looked like the field would swallow up Hollywood Hit, but he kept to his task, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over a group that included a pair of next-out winners and a next-out stakes-placed runner.
Jordan kept things fairly conservative with Hollywood Hit, next entering him in a six-furlong allowance race at Woodbine on Aug. 12. Hollywood Hit found his customary spot at the head of affairs and polished off the field with a final eighth in 11.88. El Brujo, the next-out winner of the Kentucky Cup Sprint at Turfway Park, finished four lengths behind in second.
Jordan considered the Kentucky Cup for Hollywood Hit's next appearance, but he is reluctant to ship outside of Canada. Outside of two U.S. starts in 2008, the Jordan barn has competed exclusively in Canada. Instead of the Kentucky Cup, Hollywood Hit ran in the King Corrie Stakes at six furlongs on Sept. 30. After blazing a half-mile in 43.68, Hollywood Hit completed his final eighth in 11.95 to win by 5 1/2 lengths in track record time of 1:07.38.
Hollywood Hit may have been considered for the Breeders' Cup Sprint over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, but those plans were derailed after he tested positive for the Class 3 drug acepromazine, a sedative used for shipping and training purposes. Not only was Hollywood Hit disqualified from the King Corrie purse money, but the horse was banned from racing in Ontario for 90 days. With other jurisdictions expected to honor the ban, Hollywood Hit's 3-year-old season was over in October.
After wintering in Florida, Hollywood Hit returned to the races in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier Stakes at Woodbine on April 11. He was sent off the 1-2 favorite in a salty field that included El Brujo and Field Commission, the 2009 Sovereign Award winner for best sprinter. Danny O'Callaghan saddled Hollywood Hit in place of the suspended Jordan and Hollywood Hit again made the pace throughout. He was challenged late by Field Commission, but held on to win by a diminishing half-length.
The Jacques Cartier was a good prep for the Grade 3 Vigil at seven furlongs last Sunday, and Hollywood Hit couldn't have been sharper. He not only humbled Field Commission in the Vigil, but he dominated Fatal Bullet, Canada's Horse of the Year in 2008 following a runner-up effort in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Hollywood Hit, back with Jordan, asserted his dominance early under regular rider Jim McAleney and he kept on trucking through a grueling second quarter-mile in 21.64. He turned for home in control and drew off to win by three lengths in track record time of 1:20.07. He must have galloped out about 10 lengths in front on the clubhouse turn.
What's next for Hollywood Hit? Hollywood Hit might be up for graded stakes competition in the United States. Although his speed has set him apart from the pack over synthetics, he is a proven winner on dirt and acts like he would get a one-turn mile. If the hits keep on coming and the gelding continues in good form, a run in the Breeders' Cup Sprint isn't out of the question.