12/13/2011 4:25PM

Hollywood: Romans likes his CashCall prospect

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Tom Keyser
Cozzetti got caught wide on both turns at Belmont Park in his first route attempt before breaking through with a five-length maiden victory at Churchill Downs.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Cozzetti has been shipped from Kentucky to California for his stakes debut in Saturday’s $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park, a trip that trainer Dale Romans expects to show why the colt belongs on a short list of Triple Crown candidates for 2012.

“I think he’s a special horse and I want to give him a shot in a big race,” Romans said on Tuesday. “He’s one of those horses that with a couple of races under his belt, he’s moved forward. I think he’s peaking right now.”

Romans’ confidence stems from Cozzetti’s five-length win in a maiden race over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on Nov. 16. In that race on a sloppy track, Cozzetti stalked the pace, took the lead on the turn and pulled clear in the final furlong under jockey Julien Leparoux.

“We told Julien to ride with a lot of confidence,” Romans said. “At the sixteenth pole, he opened up.”

Owned by the Albaugh Family Stable, Cozzetti had had three races. He was fifth and fourth in maiden races on turf at Belmont Park in early fall. Saturday’s race will be Cozzetti’s first start on a synthetic track, as Hollywood Park has Cushion Track. Romans sent Cozzetti to California last week, and the colt breezed five furlongs at Hollywood Park in 1:02.60 on Sunday.

“I thought it would be worthwhile to give him a feel of it,” Romans said. “He’s a young horse, and he’s never raced on it.”

Cozzetti will spend the winter in Florida, Romans said. A win or a top-three placing in the CashCall Futurity would give Cozzetti a hefty amount of graded stakes earnings that could be vital to gain a berth in the Kentucky Derby field, if that becomes a factor in the spring. “It takes a little pressure off,” Romans said of the potential prize money.

The CashCall Futurity is run over 1 1/16 miles and is expected to have a large field.

The top candidates include Drill, the winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in September; Basmati and Longview Drive, the second- and third-place finishers in the Delta Jackpot Stakes in Louisiana on Nov. 19; Liaison and Rousing Sermon, the first two finishers in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 12; and Brother Francis, the runner-up in the Prevue Stakes on Nov. 24.

Other probable starters are Desormais, Empire Way, Groovin’ Solo, Lucky Chappy, Majestic City, and Sky Kingdom.

Majestic City, who won two sprint stakes at Hollywood Park during the summer, worked five furlongs in 58.80 seconds on Monday.