07/11/2013 12:46PM

Sacramento: California Governor's Cup topped by Hollendorfer foursome

Shigeki Kikkawa
Via Villaggio, winning the Grade 3 Railbird last year, is coming off a poor performance in her 2013 debut.

It’s a Jerry Hollendorfer quartet of stakes-winning and stakes-placed fillies and mares going against a pair of stakes neophytes in Saturday’s $75,000 California Governor’s Cup Handicap at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

Hollendorfer sends out what looks to be an unbeatable hand with graded stakes winner Via Villaggio, the stakes winners Sister Kat and Cathy’s Crunches, and stakes-placed Lady Aspen.

Running against them in the 1 1/16-mile stakes are a pair of stakes first-timers: Ruby Pumps, who has run 10 times, winning five and finishing second the other five times, and Prima Gianna, who has won twice this year and is primarily a sprinter.

Last year, Via Villaggio won the Grade 3 Railbird at Hollywood Park, then ran second in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks and Grade 2 Delaware Oaks before finishing third in the Grade 1 Alabama and missing third by a nose in the Grade 1 Zenyatta. She showed little last month when she ran sixth in her 4-year-old debut, the Desert Stormer at Hollywood Park.

Lady Aspen started off her year with a pair of optional-claiming victories at Golden Gate Fields. She was second in the Golden Poppy at Golden Gate Fields in April and comes off a sixth in the Grade 2 Marje Everett at Hollywood.

Sister Kate won the Santa Lucia at Santa Anita in April, ran fifth in the Everett, and fourth in a Golden Gate turf allowance won by Ruby Pumps.

Cathy’s Crunches, 5, won three stakes as a 2-year-old and last year’s Adoration at Del Mar. She ran second behind Ruby Pumps last out.

The Governor’s Handicap is Ruby Pumps’s first race on dirt and Prima Gianna’s first race at this distance.

Trainer Tim McCanna chose to run Ruby Pumps on dirt rather than waiting two more weeks for the Luther Burbank on the turf at Santa Rosa.

“I think she’ll like it,” McCanna said of dirt, noting that Ruby Pumps’s initial workouts came on the dirt at Hastings. “She’s handled turf and synthetics all right.”

Ruby Pumps didn’t debut until last year at age 4, and then in a modest $12,500 claimer. She comes into the Governor’s off two allowance wins on the Golden Gate turf, including a three-quarter-length score over Cathy’s Crunches last time.

“That last race, she really stepped up,” said McCanna. “She’s just a game little mare. She’s got some lumps and bumps, but she’s tough.”