12/12/2013 1:44PM

Hollywood Turf Cup: Temeraine, Lucayan should appreciate firm course

Reed Palmer Photography
Temeraine, with Gary Stevens up, wins the Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A yielding turf course in the $957,566 Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 27 did not suit Temeraine and Lucayan, who finished fifth and ninth.

“I don’t think he handled it,” said Tom Proctor, who trains Temeraine.

“It was very soft,” said Neil Drysdale, who trains Lucayan.

The turf course will be firm when Temeraine and Lucayan reappear in Saturday’s $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park. The course received minimal rain in early December. The sun has been out and temperatures have climbed in recent days.

Temeraine and Lucayan are part of a field of six in the Grade 2 Turf Cup, run over 1 1/2 miles on turf. The Turf Cup is the final graded stakes on turf in Hollywood Park history. The track closes permanently at the end of the current autumn meeting Dec. 22.

Temeraine can win the most prestigious race of his career in the Turf Cup, though it would not be his richest. A 4-year-old gelding owned by Niall Racing, Temeraine won the $399,000 Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 14, his lone stakes win in 17 career starts. The Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup was run over 1 1/2 miles.

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In the Grade 1 Canadian International, Temeraine was fifth of 10, finishing 4 3/4 lengths behind Joshua Tree.

“He was down on the inside, and that’s the deeper part of the track there in the fall,” Proctor said. “He got hung up turning for home and had to check a little bit. I don’t think that helped.”

Gary Stevens, who rode Temeraine in the Kentucky Turf Cup, has the mount Saturday. The Hollywood Turf Cup will be Temeraine’s first start in California.

Lucayan is best known for an upset win in the Group 1 French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp Racecourse in May 2012. This year, Lucayan is winless in six starts in North America, including second-place finishes in two Grade 2 races – the American Handicap at Hollywood Park in May and the Del Mar Handicap in August.

Owned by Pandora Stud, Lucayan was beaten a half-length by Vagabond Shoes in the Del Mar Handicap over 1  3/8 miles on turf. The loss was frustrating for Drysdale, who watched Lucayan run through traffic in the final quarter-mile.

“In his race at Del Mar, he was a bit unlucky,” Drysdale said. “He had to come up between horses and he got stopped.

“He’s in good form. He’s a talented horse, there’s no question.”

Lucayan and Temeraine are the dominant runners in a field of six that includes Arctic North, Huntsville, Irish Surf, and Segway. Those horses have yet to win a stakes.

Arctic North was sixth in the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 16 in his stakes debut. Huntsville was third in the Del Mar Handicap behind Vagabond Shoes. Segway is making his stakes debut in the Turf Cup, having won an optional claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 27.

Irish Surf was last of nine in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby over 1 1/4 miles on turf here Dec.  1. He raced as close as second on the turn before fading through the stretch.

Trainer Dan Hendricks said Wednesday that Irish Surf will wear French cup blinkers, ones with less eye cover, in the Turf Cup.

“He’s been a little too strong on the front end,” Hendricks said. “We’ll make a few adjustments.”