06/01/2013 8:42PM

Hollywood Park: Clubhouse Ride gets elusive graded win in Californian Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Clubhouse Ride, with Garrett Gomez up, wins the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Clubhouse Ride, second to top handicap horse Game On Dude in three major stakes in California and West Virginia earlier this year, won the first graded stakes of his career in his 28th start in Saturday’s $150,500 Californian Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park.

The 5-year-old veteran proved to be an eager horse in the last half of the Grade 2 Californian, sustaining a half-mile run.
Jockey Garrett Gomez had Clubhouse Ride in third on the backstretch, in pursuit of Batti Man and Blueskiesnrainbows, who disputed the pace through fractions of 24.43 and 48.08 seconds. Clubhouse Ride reached contention quicker than Gomez had anticipated. With a three-wide move on the turn, Clubhouse Ride was in front, allowing Gomez to use racing tactics to make the contest more difficult for closers Oilisblackgold and Liaison.

With Clubhouse Ride continuing to race three wide, Oilisblackgold and Liaison were forced to rally farther to the outside.

“I hung them all out there to dry,” Gomez said.

Turning into the stretch, Batti Man and Blueskiesnrainbows faded from contention, allowing Gomez to move inside and save ground.

“I ducked to the rail and cut the corner on them,” he said of his rivals.

Clubhouse Ride ($8) led through the stretch and won by 2 1/4 lengths, finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.02.

“He kept hitting gears, and I thought, we’ll be all right,” Gomez said.

Liaison, the even-money favorite who won the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap here May 4, finished second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Oilisblackgold.

Kettle Corn finished fourth, followed by Batti Man, Holladay Road, and Blueskiesnrainbows in the field of seven.

Clubhouse Ride was second to Game On Dude earlier this year at Santa Anita in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes in February and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March. Game On Dude beat Clubhouse Ride by a half-length in the Charles Town Classic in West Virginia on April 20, the first time that Gomez rode the 5-year-old.

Clubhouse Ride races for Six-S Racing Stable and Nikolas Petralia. Trained by Craig Lewis, Clubhouse Ride, who is by Candy Ride, has won 4 of 28 starts and $959,620.

A rematch with Game On Dude is possible next month. Both horses are candidates for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup here July 6.

chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Slick move by Jockey Gomez and oh, yes, the Horse was ready for it...
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
Congrats to Clubhouse Ride. And thumbs down on Espinoza's read of the race. That was pathetic.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Could possibly say the same thing about Garcia on Liaison. It appears that a number of the jocks expectyed a fast pace, and then when the two frontrunners hooked up, thought the pace was indeed unfolding fast. In reality, the pace was moderate. Gomez the one who clearly realized the pace wasn't that fast at all.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
One thing to let the speeds go, quite another to lose sight of the contenders. The two speeds ran each other into the ground, as expected, but Kettle Corn is a deep stalker. Espinoza rode him like a deep closer. At the 1/2 mile he was 13 1/2 lengths (!) behind Clubhouse Ride. He made up 7 1/2 lengths. Unless they're experimenting with the horse, Espinoza just fell asleep. He also rode Kettle Corn in his previous race, and took him back further than usual, to 8 lengths behind at the 1/2 mile. He finished second there, making up 6 1/2 lengths.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
And Liaison went off as the 4/5 favorite. I had already tossed him out, as first step in the handicapping process. I didn't think he had a strong race in him. But Kettle Corn did. But it was wasted by the jockey.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Ultimately, we'll have to see how Kettle Corn runs the next few races to know for certain how much Espinoza is to blame for this race. If he comes back and is more forwardly placed and runs an improved race, then we can be fairly definitive that Esponoza fell asleep in the Californian. But it is possible that Espinoza wanted to lay closer, but the horse just didn't have his typical decent positional speed, and rather than push him early, Espinoza let the horse do what he wanted(settling at the back of the pack). If the latter is true, it would be significant because when a horse starts to lose some of its early zip it can signal an imminent decline in overall form. But it's really too early to start making any grand conclusions. Particularly if Game on Dude is forced to miss the Hollywood Gold Cup(dealing with minor illness now), I wouldn't talk a person off Kettle Corn in what should be his next start.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I went back and watched the race again. It looked to me that Espinoza was really pumping and scrubbing on Kettle Corn down the backstretch. When Holladay Road burst past him, Espinoza started riding even harder, finally going to the whip at the top of the stretch (and comfortably was able to re-pass Holladay Road) . In other words, it looked like Espinoza was fairly active and thus didn't totally fall asleep. However, it was still a somewhat flawed ride.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
After this fiasco I doubt Espinoza will be back on the horse the next time out. Gomez was his regular rider until the last couple of races. He rode him much closer to the pace. Espinoza took him back in his previous race, to 8 lengths behind at the 1/2 mile, and extended that to a whopping 16 lengths (13 1/2 behind Clubhouse Ride) yesterday. Must be confusing to Kettle Corn.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Really good to see Clubhouse Ride get his graded stakes win. He's just developed into such a consistent and quality handicap pro. I wouldn't get too fixated on that slow 1:51 time. Hollywood became really slow this week; a horse on Thursday that ran 1:50 and 4 was awarded a 101 Beyer, and the fact that Clubhouse Ride won a grade 2 relatively easily in slower time would seem to suggest that the track continued to slow over the last few days(perhaps related to some unusually humid weather). The betting for the Californian bordered on disrespectful, with Liaison going off at even odds and Clubhouse Ride at 3-1. I didn't have a problem with Liaison being favored, just that there was such a disparity between the two horses and that Clubhouse Ride was barely second choice over Kettle Corn. If you believe Game on Dude is the best maintrack horse in the country, then you had to rate Clubhouse Ride's 3 sraight runner-ups to the Dude, particularly the last one, as superior to Liaison's grade 2 Mervyn Le Roy. And even if you don't think that highly of Game on Dude, the fact Clubhouse Ride beat Ron the Greek in his last 2 races gave Clubhouse Ride a significant class advantage in the Californian. Throw in that Clubhouse Ride was getting 6 lbs from Liaison, and 3-1 was a gift. Kudos to the ride given Clubhouse from Garrett Gomez. He saved ground on that first turn, taking advantage of Clubhouse's ability to cut the corners, as Liaison, for no obvious reason, floated quite wide. Then, appoaching the far turn, Garrett moved Clubhouse right to the flanks of the leaders, and remained there long enough to force Liaison to again go 4-5 wide. Having successfully floated Liaison wide, once past the frontrunners Garrett quickly dropped Clubhouse back near the rail, allowing the superior turn-runner to race the second half of the far turn on the inside, saving precious ground. Just a wonderfully intellectual ride from Garrett.
Dick More than 1 year ago
I called this lock last night! Thanks Craig, Do you guys remember Cutlass Reality, destoying Alysheba & Ferdinand in the 1988 Hollywood Guld cup for Craig Lewis with gary stevens aboard.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
LOL Mark, California is just one state you know? The east coast is a bunch of states. ;-))
Jordan More than 1 year ago
That's something that so many people seem to forget. Of course East Coast racing, as a whole, is better than West Coast racing. Major West Coast racing is basically southern Claifornia. Thus, right now most of the national stars stabled out West are at Hollywood Park. In contrast, back East right now there are top horses at Belmont, Monmouth, Delaware, Parx, Penn National(today), Churchill(it is Eastern time zone), Arlington (if you want to include the Midwest), and Woodbine (if want to include Canada because Toronto is in Eastern time zone). And Calder summer racing is better than Golden Gate. There are many, many more horses, inclding top ones, running back East than out West at any one time. Sheer numbers dictate that.
Mark More than 1 year ago
4/28 in California lol :))))))
Mark More than 1 year ago
4/28 Game on Dudes nemesis. Lol . High quality handicap division in California. No doubt about that.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Game on Dude is Clubhouse Ride's nemesis. Clubhouse Ride needs to beat Dude to become his nemesis; right now the rivalry is one-sided. I like how you conveniently ignore that Game on Dude and Clubhouse Rise ran 1-2 in a $1.5 million race back East. Some might bemoan the field for the Charles Town Classic. But my response would be a question trying to understand why the field wasn't better. It carried a $1.5 million purse, it was back East at a track close to the major circuits, it was on dirt, and it was at 9 furlongs. If the East Coast handicap runners are so good, where were they when $1.5 million was put on the line? Trainers and owners are usually astute in the placement of their horses. Typically the goal is to place one's horse in the positions where it can win the most money. With $1 million to the winner, I would have to think that if the connections of the major handicap runners back East truly believed their horse could have won the Charles Town Classic, they would have run. I don't think I'm going out on a limb assuming that Game on Dude's presence kept some horses in the barn or caused them to be redirected to other spots(namely the Oaklawn Cap and Alysheba).
Mark More than 1 year ago
Limb ? Yeah because the dudes the breeders cup classic scared them all from trouncing him again . Crap track. 6 furlongs . Kept top horses away.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
$1.5 million is $1.5 million. The previous years they had to cap the field at 10 with many more wanting to run. And that's with the purse at $1 million. It goes up $500k more and yet only 7 run?
nick More than 1 year ago
Or maybe the astute owners and trainers didn't feel like if would be in their horses best interest to chase a good front-running horse on a bull-ring type(six furlong circumference, 660 ft stretch) track. Hard to close in a 200 yd long stretch.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Full fields when purse was $ 1million. This year, purse $1.5 million but Game on Dude runs, field of just 7. The Eastern trainers of speed horses are in no more of a hurry to face Game on Dude that those out West. They know he's top shelf.
John More than 1 year ago
I went to high school with Craig and have been buddys with him all these years. He has a law degree , but out of the blue decided , horse racing was his calling . Nice to see another graded winner for Craig, a very classy guy !
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Clubhouse was being pointed for the Kentucky Derby early on ... dissapointed... But has been a favorite of mine ...They put a shadow roll on him and what a difference it has been...He is a completely different animal now and looks to be even improving more each and every start ......................... turning into a machine !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
gary stevens bounced like he was on a trampoline when his horse tripped, he is one lucky dude. bet those 50 year old muscles will be plenty sore for the next few days. good luck gary, you bounced like a young kid. after 50 you don't bounce, you thud