11/27/2013 1:40PM

Hollywood Park: Winning Prize sharp for Citation Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Winning Prize wins an allowance race at Del Mar in August.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Winning Prize was already a three-time Group 1 winner in Argentina in 2012 when he made a flashy debut at Del Mar in August, winning a one-mile allowance race on turf by four lengths.

The victory suggested Winning Prize could emulate his success in Argentina in major turf races in this country. Three months later, Winning Prize has that chance in Friday’s $250,000 Citation Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Trained by Neil Drysdale, Winning Prize was fourth in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 5, a race transferred to the synthetic main track because of wet conditions. It was far from an ideal American stakes debut for Winning Prize, Drysdale said.

“Everything went pear shaped,” Drysdale said. “You’ve got to throw out the race in Kentucky. The only horse that liked it was the horse that won.”

The Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 was not considered by owners Dave Heerensperger and Jose Nelson. The same race at Santa Anita in 2014 is a thought, Drysdale said.

“We are looking at the Breeders’ Cup next year,” Drysdale said. “I feel he’s back to his form at Del Mar. He’s a talented horse.”

Winning Prize drew the outside post in a field of eight in the Grade 2 Citation, run over 1 1/16 miles on turf. Corey Nakatani will ride Winning Prize for the first time. Rafael Bejarano had the mount for the win in the optional claimer at Del Mar, but has opted to ride Silentio, who was third in the BC Mile. Garrett Gomez rode Winning Prize at Keeneland, but has not ridden since early October for personal reasons.

Nakatani will be aboard a colt who has won 6 of 10 career starts and is capable of racing near the front. Drysdale said that Winning Prize has trained favorably in recent weeks, including two turf workouts at Hollywood Park since mid-November.

“I’m pleased with the way he’s coming into it,” Drysdale said.

Silentio, owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer and trained by Gary Mandella, can win his first stakes of 2013 in the Citation. Silentio and Winning Prize share top weight of 119 pounds, in a race with only a four-pound spread to the low-weighted outsider Big Bane Theory, the winner of an optional claimer at Santa Anita last month who has yet to win a stakes.

The field has five other stakes winners, including He Be Fire N Ice and Bright Thought, who were eighth and 10th in the BC Mile; as well as Bio Pro, My Best Brother, and Summer Front.

Silentio was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the BC Mile after racing in traffic at the quarter pole. A clear run would not necessarily have translated to a victory, Mandella said.

“I think we could have been second,” Mandella said. “Considering he got beat by the Horse of the Year, I’m not going to take that big of a leap of faith.”

Mandella said that Silentio has “trained well” since the BC Mile and that he does not expect a regression in form for the 4-year-old colt who won the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita last December.

“I don’t think he fits the profile of horses that come out of the Breeders’ Cup and run less than people expect,” Mandella said. “He’s only had two races in the second half of the year.”

This year, Silentio has run in Grade 1 and Grade 2 races. He was second by a nose in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in March in his second start of the year and fifth to Wise Dan in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in April. Silentio did not start again until a third-place finish to Obviously in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile on turf Aug. 25.

For the Citation, Mandella expects Silentio to have a stalking trip behind Bright Thought, My Best Brother, and Winning Prize.

“He won’t be as far back as he was on Breeders’ Cup Day,” Mandella said. “We’ll be closer than that.”