11/29/2012 3:41PM

Hollywood Park: Despite minor purse Skillful Joy lures major talent

Barbara D. Livingston
The 3-year-old filly Reneesgotzip comes into Saturday's Skillful Joy off a third against males in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Not many $65,000 races for 3-year-old fillies are as deep as Saturday’s Skillful Joy Stakes over six furlongs on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park.

The Skillful Joy Stakes has a field of eight, led by the two-time stakes winner Reneesgotzip, who was third against males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. The field also includes the two-time stakes winner Byrama, the Del Mar stakes winner Nechez Dawn, and last-race winners Curvy Cat, Eileen’s Dream, Forbidden City, and Minds Eyes.

[HOLLYWOOD PARK: Get PPs, watch Saturday's full card live]

The race surface may not be known until Saturday morning. Light rain fell in Southern California early Thursday, and more is possible through Saturday. If the race is switched to the main track, it will be run over six furlongs on Hollywood Park’s synthetic track.

Reneesgotzip and Byrama have run well on both turf and synthetic tracks.

Trained by Peter Miller for the Lanni Family Trust, Reneesgotzip is unbeaten in three starts on synthetic tracks, including the minor CERF Stakes at Del Mar in September. Her biggest win was the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes on dirt at Santa Anita last January.

In the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Reneesgotzip was within a neck of the lead with a furlong remaining and was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by the filly Mizdirection.

Byrama did not start in the Breeders’ Cup. Second in the CERF Stakes, she won the Unzip Me Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Sept. 29 and was later third as the 2-1 favorite behind Broken Dreams and Kindle in the Grade 3 Sen. Ken Maddy Stakes there on Oct. 20.

Kindle and Broken Dreams finished 1-2 in the Cool Air Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23.

If the Skillful Joy switches surfaces, Byrama may not start, according to trainer Simon Callaghan. He considers the race as a prep for the $100,000 Monrovia Stakes for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Jan. 6.

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Byrama has made 10 starts this year. Callaghan says she thrives on racing and training.

“She’s seems to be in good form,” he said. “Every time we try to give her a break, she does so well in the morning, she makes her mind up to run.”

Byrama drew the rail. She will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, and will be a threat as a closer. The key is whether she can catch Reneesgotzip.

“I think we certainly have reason to think she’ll give a good race,” Callaghan said. “Reneesgotzip will be tough.”

Allowance comes up stakes-caliber

Last weekend, Fly Lexis Fly was considered a candidate for Saturday’s $250,000 Native Diver Stakes, largely by default.

When a $52,000 allowance race over 1 1/16 miles was offered for Saturday’s 10-race program, trainer Neil Drysdale found a suitable alternative for a 3-year-old who was a two-time stakes winner in Peru last year.

Fly Lexis Fly is part of a field of eight, which includes the graded stakes winners Blueskiesnrainbows, Golden Itiz, Jaycito, and Tres Borrachos.

“It’s a little tougher than I expected,” Drysdale said.

Fly Lexis Fly is winless in three starts in this country, all stakes.

He was fifth behind Native Diver entrant Richard’s Kid in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar in July, second in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in September, and sixth in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup in Chicago in October.

Those races were at 1 1/8 miles or farther.

Saturday’s race is a prep for the $150,000 San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 12.

“It’s a little shorter than I would prefer,” Drysdale said of Saturday’s race.

Tres Borrachos may go favored. The mount of Garrett Gomez, Tres Borrachos was considered for the Native Diver. Winless in seven starts this year, he was a game second to Comma to the Top in the Big Bear Handicap over a mile on the main track at Santa Anita on Oct. 21.

Jaycito was third in the Big Bear, but 11th of 13 in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Marathon over 1 3/4 miles at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Jaycito won the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes here in October 2010 when trained by Mike Mitchell.

In Saturday’s allowance, Baffert also starts Blueskiesnrainbows, who won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes here on July 4, his only stakes win. More recently, Blueskiesnrainbows was seventh of nine as the 8-5 favorite in the Super Derby.

There are two notable runners who won their last starts, the 3-year-old geldings Guidopanzini and Regulus, who could also start in the San Fernando.

Guidopanzini led throughout an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Oct. 26, his first victory against winners. Regulus has won his last two starts, a maiden race at Del Mar in August and an optional claimer at Santa Anita in September.