11/30/2009 1:00AM

No rematch imminent for pair of turf rivals


NGLEWOOD, Calif. - The Usual Q.T. and Battle of Hastings finished first and second in the two major turf stakes for 3-year-olds in Southern California in November - the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby on Nov. 7 and Sunday's Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park.

But Sunday's race will be the last time they meet for the foreseeable future. Trainer Jim Cassidy said that The Usual Q.T. will stay in training this winter, while Battle of Hastings will be given a vacation, trainer Jeff Mullins said.

The Usual Q.T. is a candidate for the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 18 or the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 30, Cassidy said.

The Hollywood Derby extended The Usual Q.T.'s winning streak to five races, which began with a maiden race at Del Mar in August and includes an optional claimer and the California Cup Mile for statebreds.

Sunday's victory was especially meaningful for Cassidy. Through the summer and fall, Cassidy and his staff have had to deal with The Usual Q.T.'s temperament as much guiding his ability. At times, The Usual Q.T. has shown skittish behavior.

"I'm a little choked up because this horse is pretty cool," Cassidy said in the winner's circle on Sunday.

Battle of Hastings finished his 2009 campaign with 4 wins in 9 starts and earnings of $1,062,717. The highlights were wins in two lucrative Grade 2 stakes at Colonial Downs in Virginia - the Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby.

In the Hollywood Derby, Battle of Hastings, who races for Michael House, finished 1 1/2 lengths behind The Usual Q.T., rallying from ninth in a field of 12. Mullins wants to emphasize distance turf races for the gelding in 2010.

"He's just getting better and better and he'll continue to do with a little maturity," Mullins said. "We'll give him a little break."

Handle down so far

Sunday was the halfway point of the six-week meeting, and all-sources handle is down 9 percent, according to the track's president, Jack Liebau. He said the track projected a decline of 10 percent for the fall meeting, citing a poor economy as the main reason.

Liebau said there is still concern that purses could be lowered for the final weeks of the meeting, although Wednesday's business should be helped by carryovers of $249,255 in the pick six and $30,086 in the super high five.

Things looking positive for Who's Up

Who's Up had a forgettable campaign on the main track at Del Mar this summer, losing two races, including a seventh in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.

His fall campaign has been much brighter, highlighted by his first stakes win in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes on turf on Saturday. The victory has led owner Mickey Gonzalez to consider a shift back to the main track for the $750,000 CashCall Futurity on Dec. 19. The final say, he admitted, will be up to trainer Kathy Walsh.

"It depends on how he comes out," Gonzalez said. "It all depends on Kathy's decision."

Walsh did not commit Who's Up to the CashCall Futurity after the race, but did say that the colt has made a turnaround in recent months. During the summer, Who's Up was hard to handle during morning training, wanting to always do more than necessary. Since then, he has been calmer, and easier to gallop.

"He's gotten so that he settles and settles and picks it up down the lane," she said. "They have to relax to go a distance. He trains in the morning like he'll run [on the main track]."

The Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, run over 1 1/16 miles, is the last major race of the year for the division.

Baffert has four CashCall candidates

The CashCall could have as many as four runners trained by Bob Baffert.

Baffert said Sunday that his candidates are the Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Lookin at Lucky; Marcello, who was second in the Generous Stakes; Conveyance, the winner of an allowance race last Thursday; and Macias, who was fourth in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes on Nov. 19.

Lookin at Lucky will be favored in the CashCall Futurity, but Conveyance will attract attention after winning a six-furlong allowance race by seven lengths in 1:09. Conveyance earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

"I think he's pretty fast," Baffert said. "He ran like he's worked."