11/19/2009 1:00AM

Hollywood roundup



The hottest jockey in Southern California is Joel Rosario, who went 7 for 22 opening weekend and won both California-bred stakes with middle-odds winners. Bestdressed ($12.60) won the On Trust Handicap on Nov. 14, and U R All That I Am ($13.20) won the Cat's Cradle Handicap on Nov. 15. Rosario and Rafael Bejarano have emerged as the circuit's top overnight riders; Rosario's mounts generally offer greater wagering value.

John Sadler, trainer of deep closer Bestdressed, said, "Rosario's a great rider for him because he's such a strong finisher."

A 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic, Rosario has been riding in the United States since 2006 and is having the best season of his career. Through Sunday, he had ridden 218 winners who earned more than $11.7 million, sixth in the country.

Sadler was the top trainer opening weekend with 4 wins from 8 starters. Trainer Mike Puype went 3ofor 3. Jerry Hollendorfer won the Cat's Cradle with U R All That I Am, and sent out 2-year-old filly She's Funomenal for a dynamite debut victory.

The venerable 9-year-old gelding Shadow of Illinois completed a Southern California rarity Nov. 13 by winning his third consecutive sprint on three different turf courses. Shadow of Illinois previously won a turf sprint Aug. 13 at Del Mar and Oct. 18 at Santa Anita. Anthony Saavedra trains Shadow of Illinois, who has won 10 races from 40 starts.


Both favorites in the California-bred stakes fell short of expectations. Star Nicholas finished a flat third as the 3-2 favorite in the On Trust Handicap Nov. 14. Bootleg Annie finished third as the 1.30-1 favorite in the Cat's Cradle Handicap for fillies and mares on Nov. 15. Horses, apparently, are not machines.

Trainer Jeff Mullins stumbled out of the gate opening weekend. Consistently among the top trainers on the circuit, Mullins started three favorites and one second choice. None hit the board - Auntgrace and Mind the Minister ran out Nov. 13, and Judge Joan and Yes It's a Cat ran out Nov. 15. Mullins was not the only one to break slowly. Daily Racing Form's Southern California handicapper picked a whopping three winners from the first 26 races.


After just three days of racing, the night-and-day difference between Santa Anita and Hollywood Park is already obvious.

"Horses can get a hold of this track," jockey Garrett Gomez said, referring to the consistent Hollywood Park racing surface.

Whereas front-runners were at a disadvantage on Pro-Ride during much of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, speed holds on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. Seven of the first 18 main-track races at Hollywood were won by a horse who led at every call. But the track is not biased - fast fractions still doom the front-runners, as they should. The racing surface at Hollywood was faster Sunday than it was Friday night, or Saturday.

Although form reversals often coincide with the start of a new meet, main-track favorites won 5 of 18 opening week, while the only upset was by Midwesterner. A former $32.000-$50,000 claimer, Midwesterner dropped to an all-time low Nov. 13 and sprang a $34.80 upset in an $8,000 claiming sprint. It was his eighth win from 35 starts.


The second season for 2-year-olds begins this weekend with seven-furlong stakes - the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue on Saturday open to both genders, and $100,000 Moccasin for 2-year-old fillies Sunday.

There is no doubting the significance of the Prevue. Past winners of the Prevue include Declan's Moon, champion 2-year-old male of 2004; Lion Heart, who later won the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity and finished second in the 2004 Kentucky Derby; and Afternoon Deelites, subsequent Grade 1 winner of the Hollywood Futurity and Malibu Stakes. Early favorites for the 2009 Prevue are brilliant Keeneland maiden winner American Lion and locally based Indian Firewater.

The Moccasin is less relevant, though past winners include 1984 winner Lady's Secret, who later won the Breeders' Cup Distaff and was named 1986 Horse of the Year. Early favorites for the 2009 Moccasin include Grade 1-placed Bickersons and locally based allowance winner Miss Heather Lee.

The Autumn Turf Festival begins Friday with the Grade 1 Citation. Saturday is the Grade 1 Matriarch, and Sunday is the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. The Derby card on Nov. 29 will include a between-races appearance by the Breeders' Cup Classic winner Zenyatta.


Maiden races for 2-year-olds always are rife with possibilities, and the seventh race Nov. 15 was no exception. Nine fillies entered the 6 1/2-furlong sprint, and most eyes were focused on She's Funomenal.

A daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus and a sibling to Grade 3 Cowdin Stakes winner Fistfite, She's Funomenal had been working up a storm for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, whose debut maidens typically run better second time out. Nonetheless, bettors hammered She's Funomenal to 3-2 favoritism. They never had a worry.

She's Funomenal broke well under Joel Rosario, and quickly made the front. Rosario sat chilly as She's Funomenal set a fast pace (22.35 and 45.14 seconds). Her closest pursuers were under a drive at the quarter pole, but Rosario did not move.

She's Funomenal broke open the race, opened by four lengths in midstretch, and coasted home by 5o1/2 lengths with Rosario looking over his shoulder. She's Funomenal earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 84 and acts like she will run long.


Bettors who did not cash with $12.60 On Trust Handicap winner Bestdressed were not alone. But in retrospect, the gray stretch-runner could have been played by simply throwing out one race.

Bestdressed finished dead last in his most recent start. That race, however, was on turf. Bestdressed tried grass seven times previously, and mustered only a second and a third. The last race by Bestdressed was a throw-out.

In his previous start on the main track, Bestdressed had finished third in the six-furlong California Cup Sprint, earning a career-best Beyer Figure of 101 while missing by 1 3/4 lengths. How strong was the Cal Cup? The winner was Dancing in Silks, who returned to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint. The runner-up was M One Rifle, who returned to run super (third place) in the Damascus on Breeders' Cup Saturday.

In the On Trust, Bestdressed was stretching to 7o1/2 furlongs, meeting a field with pace to run at, for a top stable (Sadler) and a leading rider (Rosario). It sure is easy to see after the fact. But with the benefit of hindsight, 5-1 was awfully fat on a good horse in good hands, in the right spot.


Seize Power

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Last race: Nov. 15, 2nd

Finish: 4th by 3

A full brother to graded stakes-winning filly Jibboom (turf and synthetic), this 2-year-old displayed much potential in his career debut around two turns. He broke slowly and trailed, inched closer into the far turn, raced greenly into the stretch before he switched to the outside, and finished with run. A son of Mizzen Mast, he galloped out strongly and should improve a ton next out. He was the final horse to run in the name of the late Bobby Frankel.

Cozi Rosie

Trainer: John Sadler

Last race: Nov. 15, 7th

Finish: 4th by 6 1/2

A 2-year-old filly by Pleasantly Perfect, this half-sister to graded stakes-winning sprinter Lexicon ran like she needed the start first time out. She broke slowly and appeared unsure of herself early, picked up steam on the turn and into the lane, then finished with run and galloped out with good energy. Owned and bred by Jerry and Ann Moss, the filly may have more speed than she showed, and she figures to move up a bunch with a clean break.


Trainer: Mike Mitchell

Last race: Nov. 14, 9th

Finish: 5th by 4 1/2

A 3-year-old first-time starter, this son of Maria's Mon was in for a schooling run in his debut at six furlongs on turf. Relatively ignored in the betting at 7-1, he pressed the pace, was still in the hunt to the furlong pole, then tired and split the field. The race served its purpose, and the colt should be tighter second time out on either surface, at any distance.