01/28/2016 3:20PM

Poshsky in peak form for California Cup Turf Classic

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Once a $20,000 maiden claimer, Poshsky won the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap in November at Golden Gate Fields.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Poshsky, a 6-year-old gelding, once ran in a $20,000 claimer for maidens, finishing seventh at Del Mar in 2013. His last three races include a win in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields in November and make that humble start to his career seem part of the distant past.

Poshsky is in the best form of his career, which might lead to his second stakes win in Saturday’s $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic at Santa Anita.

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“I think he has a big chance,” trainer Peter Miller said.

The California Cup Turf Classic is one of five stakes, all for California-breds, on Saturday’s 10-race program, which begins at noon Pacific. The Cal Cup Turf Classic and the $250,000 Cal Cup Derby are the richest races on the program.

Poshsky is part of a field of 12 in the Cal Cup Turf Classic, which is at 1 1/8 miles on turf and is the ninth race on the card. Cowboy, who has yet to start in a stakes, is on the also-eligible list.

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KEY CONTENDERS

Poshsky, by Vronsky

(Last 3 Beyers: 92-92-96)

◗ Poshsky followed his win in the Berkeley Handicap with a fourth-place finish at 11-1 in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf here Jan. 2. Poshsky was seventh on the backstretch and closed to finish 6 3/4 lengths behind upset winner Flamboyant.

“It was a softer turf than what he likes,” Miller said. “I’m hoping the turf will be more firm.”

◗ Owned by Gary Barber, Silver Ranch Stable, and Wachtel Stable, Poshsky tends to race as a stalker. He could be in an advantageous position if Image of Joplin, the winner of a $50,000 claimer on Jan. 3, and What a View, the winner of an optional claimer Dec. 26, take their customary positions at the front.

“I think we’ll be sitting third, fourth, or fifth, and I hope we can have first run,” Miller said. “The company will be easier than last time.”

Alert Bay, by City Zip

(Last 3 Beyers: 90-92-95)

◗ Alert Bay won the Cal Cup Turf Classic and the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile on turf here in 2015. After winning an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on Nov. 6, Alert Bay has been beaten in his last two starts, finishing seventh of nine in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar on Nov. 27 and sixth, beaten a length, in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes on the hillside turf course here Dec. 26.

◗ Alert Bay has won eight stakes in his 22-race career.

◗ Martin Garcia, who was aboard for the City of Hope Mile and the Daytona, has the mount for trainer Blaine Wright.

Awesome Return, by Decarchy

(Last 3 Beyers: 87-86-94)

◗ Awesome Return won the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf in April 2014 and was winless in six starts last year. Awesome Return has not raced since finishing sixth in an optional claimer at Del Mar in August. At the time, trainer Mike Puype thought Awesome Return needed a rest.

“He had no injuries at all,” Puype said. “He looks really well physically. He’s coming into the race in good health. His coat is good, and his weight is good right now.”

◗ Puype is banking on a quick pace to help Awesome Return’s rally.

“He hasn’t been beaten far in a lot of his races,” he said. “There hasn’t been a lot of pace, and I think this race will help him.”

G. G. Ryder, by Chhaya Dance

(Last 3 Beyers: 91-95-91)

◗ G. G. Ryder was eighth in the 2015 Cal Cup Turf Classic, his most recent start here. He was sixth in the California Dreamin’ Stakes at Del Mar in July and has raced in central and Northern California since then, winning the Bull Dog Stakes at the Big Fresno Fair in October.

◗ Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer at Golden Gate Fields, G. G. Ryder was third in the Berkeley Handicap behind Poshsky, racing near the front throughout. G. G. Ryder tends to run near the front but will need to be patient under jockey Santiago Gonzalez to last 1 1/8 miles in a race with several contenders.