12/15/2011 3:38PM

Hollywood Park: Baffert takes three shots at another CashCall Futurity win

Shigeki Kikkawa
Drill, with Martin Garcia up, wins the Del Mar Futurity. Drill will try to prove himself at two turns in Saturday’s CashCall Futurity.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The list of winners that Bob Baffert has sent out in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park looks like a greatest-hits package for the Hall of Fame trainer. Since 1997, Baffert has won the race five times, with Real Quiet, Captain Steve, Point Given, Pioneerofthe Nile, and, two years ago, Lookin At Lucky.

“I’ve never won it with a bum,” Baffert said Thursday.

That’s because the CashCall Futurity, at 1 1/16 miles, is often a preview of coming attractions. Real Quiet went on to win the Kentucky Derby, Point Given captured the Preakness and Belmont, and Lookin At Lucky won the Preakness.

[LIVE VIDEO: Watch Saturday's full Hollywood Park card]

“This is when you start thinking of the Kentucky Derby,” Baffert said.

He’ll get a good line on three of his Derby prospects Saturday. Baffert will send out Drill, Liaison, and Sky Kingdom in the Grade 1, $750,000 race, which drew a competitive field of 13 2-year-olds, including the high-class Majestic City and Royal Delta’s full brother, Empire Way. It goes as ninth on a 10-race card that begins at 12:30 Pacific.

Of Baffert’s three runners, Drill is the most accomplished, and he’s also the one with the most to prove.

Drill won the Del Mar Futurity in the summer and was a solid second in the Norfolk Stakes, but he was dreadful in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, finishing 10th of 13, and stopped badly in the Delta Downs Jackpot, fading to seventh in a field of 10. His only two wins have come on Polytrack, around one turn. He is winless in three starts on dirt, all going two turns, and while Hollywood Park’s surface, Cushion Track, is all-weather, it plays far more like dirt than Polytrack does.

“I wasn’t really pointing for this race after Delta, but once he got back here,” Baffert said, referring to Santa Anita, where he is based, “his last two works were really good.”

It was jockey Martin Garcia who lobbied Baffert to try Drill once more in a two-turn race. Baffert said he would do it, but only if Garcia stuck with Drill, so Garcia gave up the mount on Sky Kingdom.

“He said, ‘Let me ride him the way I want,’ ” Baffert said. “He went way too fast on the lead last time, and he crumbled.”

Sky Kingdom was an eye-catching winner against maidens here Nov. 24. That was his first start around two turns after a pair of sprints during the summer at Del Mar.

“He’s doing better with every start,” Baffert said. “He’ll get the trip.”

With Garcia sticking with Drill, Garrett Gomez has picked up the mount on Sky Kingdom.

Liaison has won twice in three starts, most recently in the Real Quiet Stakes, Hollywood Park’s prep for the CashCall Futurity.

“Sky Kingdom and Liaison, they’re definitely two-turn horses,” Baffert said. “This was a logical spot for them.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Baffert said. “It’s a wide-open race. This is when they start separating themselves.”

Majestic City, like Drill, is seeking to get back to his best form after stopping badly and beating just one horse in his turf debut in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Prior to that, though, Majestic City was second in both the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and the Del Mar Futurity, and he won all three of his starts, all in sprints, at Hollywood Park earlier this year. Ramon Dominguez rides Majestic City, who is removing blinkers for this race.

Empire Way, who wears front wraps, won his debut Nov. 13, then came back 11 days later and beat one horse in the Hollywood Prevue. Both of those races were sprints, so – like his sister – he figures to improve with more distance.

Cozzetti has shipped in from Churchill Downs, where he won a maiden race Nov. 16. That result might have been a happy accident. Cozzetti had made his two prior starts on turf, and that Nov. 16 race also was scheduled for the grass, but was moved to the main track.

Handsome Mike, a recent private acquisition, races for Paul Reddam, who owns CashCall. Reddam’s wife, Zillah, owns Basmati, who has just one win in seven starts, but was second in the Delta Jackpot in his last start. Both are trained by Doug O’Neill.

Rousing Sermon finished well to be second to Liaison in the Real Quiet, which was his first start in open company.

Brother Francis is winless in two starts, but was second in both, including the Hollywood Prevue.

Blingo, a son of grass star Artie Schiller, was an impressive winner of his lone start, on turf, on Nov. 25.

The maiden Groovin’ Solo and French import Desormais round out the field.

CashCall Futurity (G1), Post Time: 4:37 PT Saturday

Purse: $750,000; 1 1/16 miles

Odds by Byron King







Handsome Mike

D. O'Neill

C. Nakatani



Brother Francis

J. Cassidy

V. Espinoza



Groovin' Solo

M. Cho

A. Quinonez



Empire Way

M. Harrington

J. Rosario




B. Baffert

M. Garcia



Sky Kingdom

B. Baffert

G. Gomez




J. Shirreffs

M. Smith



Rousing Sermon

J. Hollendorfer

J. Talamo




B. Baffert

R. Bejarano




D. Romans

J. Leparoux



Majestic City

P. Miller

R. Dominguez




D. O'Neill

H. Berrios




P. Gallagher

D. Flores