12/17/2009 12:00AM

Hollywood roundup



Jockey Rafael Bejarano got the week off to a dynamite start on Dec. 9, guiding home four winners. He came right back to win two more Dec. 10. So how did leading rider Joel Rosario respond? Not only did he also win two on Dec. 10, but he then merely tied a record by winning six of the eight races on Friday. Bill Shoemaker set the record of six wins with eight mounts on June 20, 1953, then tied his own mark winning six of seven mounts on June 24, 1970. Laffit Pincay Jr. rode six winners from nine mounts on April 27, 1968, and Kent Desormeaux rode six winners with 10 mounts on July 3, 1992. By the time the week was done, despite Bejarano's success, Rosario expanded his lead. His 12-for-28 week propelled him to 35 wins overall, nine ahead of Bejarano (26) and Joe Talamo, who was in Hong Kong last week.

Speaking of starting the week well, trainer Doug O'Neill had been fairly quiet this meet. That changed Dec. 9. He began the week with a hat trick, greeting You Can Dream, Recess, and Quoted in the winner's circle. That left him with six wins for the meet, still well behind leading trainer John Sadler, who bounced back from a dull previous week to win four times and move his total to 15. Bob Baffert and Mike Mitchell were tied for second with eight wins.


Southern Californians found the trip to Hong Kong a bit too much. California Flag, winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, wasn't disgraced, showing his usual high speed before finishing fifth in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint. Cannonball, third in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, could manage only 10th. Black Mamba was overmatched in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase against top males, finishing last of 13.


The track seemed much fairer last week after surely being tilted toward speed. On Dec. 11, for example, you had winners come from every direction - on the lead, stalking, and rallying wide from well back.

There was limited turf action, as the three races carded for the turf Dec. 11 were transferred to the main track, as were the three races carded for the turf last Saturday after the area got hit with rain. There were no grass races scheduled for last Sunday.


This weekend concludes the meet with a cymbal crash as two Grade 1's are on the slate - the CashCall Futurity and Hollywood Starlet.

Seattle Ruler, winner of the Barretts Juvenile and third in the Hollywood Prevue, has tossed his hat into the ring for the Futurity on Saturday, according to trainer Mike Harrington.

"He's not at all like Swiss Yodeler," said Harrington of his 1996 Futurity winner. "He's got Fusaichi Pegasus genes and is bred to go two turns."

Seattle Ruler is a Kentucky-bred chestnut colt by Roman Ruler, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.

Baffert, who won his fourth Futurity last year with Pioneerof the Nile, holds a strong hand as he shoots for number five with a trio likely going, led by top juvenile Lookin at Lucky, a two-time Grade 1 winner and second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Baffert said he will be joined by Generous runner-up Marcello and either Conveyance, an impressive allowance sprint winner here Nov. 25, or The Program, second in an allowance route here Nov. 27.

Amen Hallelujah, third in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 9, will be supplemented to Sunday's Starlet, according to trainer Gary Stevens.

Owned by IEAH Stable, Amen Hallelujah will join Stevens's stable for the 1 1/16-mile Starlet. Alex Solis will ride Amen Hallelujah, who has won 2 of 5 starts.

The Starlet field is expected to include Beautician and Blind Luck, second and third, respectively, in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 6, and Bickersons and Miss Heather Lee, the first two finishers in the Moccasin Stakes here Nov. 22.


Kinsale King won his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood on Dec. 6, leaving trainer Carl O'Callaghan wondering if the gelding can show enough progress in coming months to merit a trip to Dubai in the spring.

On Tuesday, O'Callaghan, who turned 34 on Monday, said he intends to start Kinsale King in the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 23 in an effort to gain a berth to the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen in late March.

The Grade 2 Palos Verdes is run over six furlongs and could include Dancing in Silks, winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Richard's Kid, who may well have been favored in last Saturday's Grade 3 Native Diver, skipped the race as Baffert was concerned about the weather and how the track would play. Baffert said Richard's Kid would instead point to the Grade 2 San Pasqual on Jan. 9, with his long-term goal being the rich Group 1 Dubai World Cup in late March.

Lava Man was also supposed to use the Native Diver for his much-anticipated return, but rain scuttled those plans. Trainer Doug O'Neill said the one-time California kingpin would instead point to Santa Anita's Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap on the turf Dec. 27, in the hopes that the race can propel him into the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic there Jan. 30.

Trainer Jack Carava apparently used Wednesday to replenish his barn for a late-meet run and for Santa Anita. He claimed three horses Wednesday for his main owner, La Canada Stables LLC. He took Warren's Appeal (who won that day's opener) for $25,000, Carnival Queen (ran second in race 3) for $25,000, and Stanford Dolly (ran second in race 4) for $10,000.


Blow one turn and you're asking for trouble. Blow two turns, and well you're almost surely staring at a defeat - unless you're Crisp, a maiden who overcame such an eventful trip to stamp herself a potential comer for trainer John Sadler.

A 2-year-old daughter of El Corredor, Crisp was a handful on the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile event, but rider Rafael Bejarano managed to keep her straight enough. The far turn, however, was another story. She bolted on the turn, losing position and seemingly losing any chance. Remarkably, Bejarano got her straightened away, and she got back into stride, powering home to roll past Fashion Trend in deep stretch to get the win in her second start.

"The first turn she tried to go straight and the second turn, definitely, she was out of control," Bejarano said. "I hit her a couple of times and finally she switched leads and started running straight. I was almost last, but she gave me a big kick. I knew she was the best horse in the race."

The $160,000 yearling purchase appears to have a bright future.


Victory Dash

Trainer: Walter Solis

Last Race: Dec. 9, 5th

Finish: 2nd by a nose

The 2-year-old filly was quite unlucky not to get the victory here. Going 1 1/16 miles for the first time, she had seemed in previous starts as if she might be best as a late-running sprinter. However, she showed she could take that late punch and transfer it to this longer game. She was last early in this starter allowance race after a troubled start but began a strong move on the far turn and carried it to the wire. She was just unable to supplant Dinnr With Nikki C in the final yards. It was a fine effort, and her style may actually play better when the racing action moves back to Santa Anita.

Fashion Trend

Trainer: Craig Dollase

Last Race: Dec. 10, 3rd

Finish: 2nd by 3/4

This full sister to multiple graded stakes winner Island Fashion (won $2 million and multiple Grade 1's routing and sprinting, was Grade 1 stakes placed vs. males, and Grade 1 stakes placed on turf) did everything right and looked set to break through and get her diploma, particularly when main rival Crisp bolted on the far turn and seemingly was out of contention. However, Crisp's huge re-rally managed to carry her past this girl. Still, that makes four smart efforts in as many races, and she was well clear of the rest. She's already shown she can sprint, route, and handle turf. Next time.

Aprisa Luna

Trainer: Ron Ellis

Last Race: Dec. 13, 9th

Finish: 2nd by a neck

This 3-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon showed ample promise in her debut, finishing strongly only to come up a neck short. Off a string of solid works for a trainer who usually has them ready first time out, she broke a bit slowly. She bided her time, looked to be in hopeless shape turning for home but swung out, found top gear, and just failed to reel in wire-to-wire winner Lion Heart's Bluff. She should be tough when she shows up next, and if it's at Santa Anita, that track may be kinder to her style.