12/01/2010 5:03PM

Romp roughed up, but ready for Native Diver

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Barbara D. Livingston
Romp, who endured a rough trip in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Marathon, will run in Saturday's Native Diver Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Amid the drama after the Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, when jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano seemingly made every sports highlight show with their postrace scuffle, trainer Kristin Mulhall walked off the track relieved that Romp was not injured.

When the chain reaction of bumping occurred on the final turn, which led to the altercation, Romp had the worst of it. He clipped heels with a rival and nearly fell. Romp finished 10th in a field of 12, 32 lengths behind Eldaafer.

“He’s lucky he didn’t go all the way down,” Mulhall said. “It wiped them all out.”

Fortunately for Mulhall and the partnership that owns the 6-year-old gelding, Romp sustained no injuries. Wednesday, Mulhall entered Romp in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Diver Handicap over 1 1/8 miles at Hollywood Park, confident that he can win the first stakes of his career in his 43rd start.

“He’s training like a different horse than the Romp before,” Mulhall said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins. He’s been working in hand and normally he’s a lazy work horse. I wanted to jog him this morning and I couldn’t keep his feet on the ground.”

Romp has won 4 of 42 starts and $271,463. This year, his lone win in 10 starts was an allowance race over 1 1/4 miles here on the main track Oct. 21. The race was scheduled for turf and switched to the main track because of wet weather. Romp won the race by a nose, confirming to Mulhall that the gelding prefers main track racing.

“I think he’s better on synthetic or dirt than he is on grass,” Mulhall said.

Mike Smith will ride Romp in the Native Diver, replacing Martin Garcia, who is currently in his native Mexico working through issues with his visa, according to his agent, Jim Pegram.

Romp is part of an expected field of seven, which is led by Dakota Phone, the upset winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 6. Other probable starters are Achak, Aggie Engineer, Philatelist, Soul Candy and Spurrier.

Garcia expected back for Santa Anita

Garcia, who currently ranks eighth in the nation in earnings this year with more than $10.1 million, has not ridden since Nov. 7, but Pegram said on Wednesday that he expects the 26-year-old jockey back in Southern California this month.

Asked if Garcia would be available to ride for the opening of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting on Dec. 26, Pegram said, “He’ll be back by then.”

Pegram said that Garcia is dealing with visa issues in Mexico. “They tell me he’s coming back,” he said. “As far as I know, it’s processing the visa.”

Clubhouse Ride tunes up for CashCall Futurity

Clubhouse Ride, third in the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes at Delta Downs on Nov. 20, worked a half-mile in 59.40 seconds at Hollywood Park on Wednesday, and will start in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity on Dec. 18, trainer Craig Lewis said.

Clubhouse Ride made his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot, finishing six lengths behind race winner Gourmet Dinner.

“Speed was strong and he put in a good run,” Lewis said. “He took the worst of it and ran well.”

Clubhouse Ride won the Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex Park in September. Patrick Valenzuela rode Clubhouse Ride at Delta Downs and will retain the mount in the CashCall Futurity.

The Grade 1 CashCall Futurity is expected to include J P’s Gusto, the winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, who was sixth in the BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Valenzuela rode J P’s Gusto at Churchill Downs, but Joe Talamo who rode the colt in the Del Mar Futurity and to three other stakes wins during the spring and summer, will have the mount in the CashCall Futurity.

Other candidates for the CashCall Futurity are Comma to the Top, who won the Generous Stakes on Nov. 27, as well as Premier Pegasus and Industry Leader, the first two finishers of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes on Nov. 20; and Rustler Hustler, who won minor stakes at Monmouth Park in August and Belmont Park in October and is trained by Rick Dutrow.

A Z Warrior will skip Starlet

The $300,000 Hollywood Starlet Stakes on Dec. 11 will not include A Z Warrior, the winner of the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park in October. Trainer Bob Baffert said earlier this week that A Z Warrior will “wait for Santa Anita.”

“I’ll wait for the dirt,” Baffert said. “I think she’ll be better on dirt.”

Baffert said that May Day Rose, who won the Sharp Cat Stakes on Nov. 7, will run in the Starlet, which like the CashCall Futurity is run over 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic main track.