12/13/2012 2:29PM

Hollywood Park: Gomez hoping for better trip on Grandeur in Turf Cup


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park on Saturday offers redemption for jockey Garrett Gomez aboard the promising 3-year-old Grandeur.

In the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 25, Gomez rode Grandeur for the first time and they finished a fast-closing second in the race over 1 1/4 miles, losing by 1 1/4 lengths to Unbridled Command. Gomez will try to improve on his ride in the derby, where he had Grandeur six wide on the final turn before finishing with a big rally.

“I ended up in the middle of nowhere,” Gomez said of his wide trip.

“I should have made it closer but I don’t know if I would have won. I got to know him a little bit.”

The Grade 2 Turf Cup will be Grandeur’s third start in the United States, but his first race at 1 1/2 miles. The distance is not an issue for the rider.

“I’m excited to see him do it,” Gomez said.

Owned by Yvonne Jacques of England, Grandeur won his U.S. debut in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, his 10th career start. Trained by Jeremy Noseda of England through the Hollywood Derby, Grandeur was third in the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes in England in August, and won his first stakes in the Twilight Derby.

After the Hollywood Derby, Grandeur was transferred to local trainer Paddy Gallagher.

For the Turf Cup, the late-running Grandeur is the likely favorite in a field of 10.

The most accomplished runner is Bourbon Bay, the 6-year-old gelding who won the San Luis Rey Stakes and San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita earlier this year. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Bourbon Bay has not started since finishing eighth in the John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita in September.

Optimizer, who is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, won the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park in September and was 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. A 3-year-old, Optimizer was later a troubled fifth in the Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs, racing in traffic in the final furlong and losing by just 1 1/2 lengths.

Optimizer can race near the front, and is likely to be in pursuit of Slim Shadey, a two-time graded stakes winner this year who was eighth in the BC Turf. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Slim Shadey won the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita in September, leading throughout the race over 1 1/4 miles.

“I think he gets the distance, but his optimum is probably a mile and a quarter,” Callaghan said.

Victor Espinoza will ride Slim Shadey, but only for this race, Callaghan said. Gomez has ridden Slim Shadey in his last three starts, but committed to Grandeur before Callaghan decided to run his 4-year-old.

The tactics for Slim Shadey are fairly clear, Callaghan said.

“From what I can see there are a lot of horses that come from out of it – Grandeur and Bourbon Bay,” he said. “We’ll be on the lead and stalking. He kind of runs his races well on the lead. We’ll definitely be close.”