12/17/2011 8:23PM

Hollywood Park: Liaison holds off Rousing Sermon in CashCall Futurity

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Benoit & Associates
Liaison captures his third straight race and second consecutive stakes in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Trainer Bob Baffert won his record sixth CashCall Futurity on Saturday at Hollywood Park with Liaison, and it couldn’t have come at a more poignant time, because earlier this week, Liaison’s sire, Indian Charlie, died.

It is Liaison who thus will carry on the legacy, and, based on the history of this race, he could prove a worthy torchbearer. Liaison will try to follow in the footsteps of previous Baffert winners of this race such as Lookin At Lucky, Real Quiet, and Point Given, all of whom won Triple Crown races the following spring.

The result of this Grade 1, $750,000 race for 2-year-olds mirrored last month’s prep, the Real Quiet, with Liaison first, and Rousing Sermon rallying late for second. This time, Liaison prevailed by neck, and the margin was diminishing in the final strides.

Brother Francis ran on for third despite jockey Victor Espinoza losing his whip a furlong out. Sky Kingdom, another Baffert trainee, was fourth.

Empire Way was fifth and was followed, in order, by Blingo, Handsome Mike, Cozzetti, Drill, Majestic City, Basmati, Desormais, and Groovin Solo, who was pulled up halfway through the race when his right rein broke.

Liaison ($12.20) was the second choice in the race. With Rafael Bejarano aboard, he completed 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track in 1:42.86.

Liaison raced in fifth position early, on the rail while just behind a three-way pace battle among Handsome Mike, Drill, and Majestic City, who went the opening quarter-mile in 23.27 seconds and half-mile in 46.83.

It was not until just before the top of the stretch that Liaison was able to find a seam, and he seized the opportunity immediately and surged to the front.

“It was nice to see the way he ran after being bottled up,” said Arnold Zetcher, who owns Liaison. “He ran great. And just a few days after Indian Charlie. Amazing.”

Liaison has now won three times in four starts. He will be based at Santa Anita this winter, with races such as the Santa Anita Derby his main objective. Baffert and Zetcher won the Santa Anita Derby this year with Midnight Interlude.

Rousing Sermon was 10th in the field of 13 before going wide and finishing strongly.

“We’re really happy with the way he ran,” said his trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer. “With a big field, you have to go around everybody.”

Both Drill, the third choice, and Majestic City faded after pressing the pace.

“He doesn’t want to go that far,” said Drill’s rider, Martin Garcia.

Majestic City was bearing out, according to jockey Ramon Dominguez.