12/03/2011 8:46PM

Hollywood Park: Kettle Corn may be Dubai-bound after Native Diver victory

Kettle Corn rallies along the rail under Garrett Gomez to take the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif.- A ground-saving trip helped Kettle Corn win his first stakes in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park, a victory that could lead to an international trip next spring.

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Kettle Corn ($19) caught pacesetter Tres Borrachos in the final sixteenth to win by a half-length, finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.03. Tres Borrachos, the 8-5 favorite, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Tweebster, the 2-1 second choice in the field of seven.

Kettle Corn raced throughout on the rail, stalking Tres Borrachos by three or four lengths. Gomez said that the leaders were farther ahead of Kettle Corn than he would have preferred with three-eighths of a mile remaining, but that the colt regained his best stride nearing the quarter pole.

“He gave me a little question at the three-eighths pole,” Gomez said. “That was the only time I was concerned, trying to keep him comfortable. Just before the quarter pole, I thought he’d beat them. When we turned for home, he sprinted. His idea was to win.

“It’s the first time he’s stepped up in class, but he’s an improving horse.”

Owned by Lee and Susan Searing and trained by John Sadler, Kettle Corn has won 6 of 12 starts and $171,891. A 4-year-old colt by Candy Ride, Kettle Corn was bought privately during the summer, before the Del Mar meeting, and has since won 3 of 5 starts for his current owners and trainer.

After the Grade 3 Native Diver, Sadler mentioned the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai on March 31 as a long-range goal for Kettle Corn.