11/23/2010 1:37PM

Sebastian Flyte better prepared for run in Hollywood Derby


INGLEWOOD, Calif. − In the hours before entries were taken for the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby last month, trainer Ben Cecil scrambled to find a rider. He wound up with Martin Garcia, who rode Sebastian Flyte to a fourth-place finish, losing by three-quarters of a length.

Sebastian Flyte will start in Sunday’s $250,000 Hollywood Derby, and this time Cecil had no trouble finding a jockey well in advance. Joel Rosario, who through Sunday led the jockey’s standings at the fall meeting, has the mount.

“Garcia had never sat on the horse,” Cecil said. “I thought he was a little too far back. They didn’t go too fast, and he finished well.”

Cecil said he is hoping the Hollywood Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles on turf will help Sebastian Flyte, who has won 2 of 10 starts. Sebastian Flyte placed in three stakes in England and Ireland at 2 and earlier this year at 3, and he has started twice in the U.S. He won a delayed debut in an optional claimer at Del Mar on Sept. 4 in advance of the Oak Tree Derby.

Cecil, who trains Sebastian Flyte for Triple B Farms, had hoped to start Sebastian Flyte in the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar in July, but he postponed those plans when Sebastian Flyte arrived in mid-summer.

“When he first came here, he couldn’t gallop, he was so body sore,” Cecil said. “It was a blessing in disguise. It gave him time to fill out. Even when he won at Del Mar, he wasn’t ready.”

The Hollywood Derby lacks a standout. Four of the first five finishers of the Oak Tree Derby – Fantastic Pick, runner-up Blue Panis, Sebastian Flyte, and fifth-place finisher Haimish Hy − will be challenged by Citrus Kid, who was second in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 9, and the allowance race winners Juniper Pass and Lions Story.

Without a major runner in the field, Cecil said he expects Sebastian Flyte to be a major factor. Monday, Sebastian Flyte worked six furlongs on the main track in 1:12.80.

“It’s pretty much the same bunch,” Cecil said. “He’s doing well, and I think he can run better than he did the last time.”

The Hollywood Derby is one of three major turf races worth $250,000 run here from Friday through Sunday.

Friday, Wasted Tears and Gypsy’s Warning are the leading runners in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes over a mile for fillies and mares.

Saturday, Court Vision, the winner of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in September and six other stakes in his 25-race career, carries high weight of 122 pounds in the Grade 2 Citation Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf. Rosario rides Court Vision, who was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.

Other probable starters are Bruce’s Dream, Colgan’s Chip, Enriched, Meteore, Proudinsky, Ryehill Dreamer, Victor’s Cry, and Violon Sacre.

Cerin hopes maiden takes next step

Trainer Vladimir Cerin, one win away from 1,000 for his career, could have a memorable Thanksgiving.

In Thursday’s first race, Cerin starts the Florida import Jim’s Decision in a 2-year-old maiden special weight race over 1 1/16 miles. Winning will be difficult. Jim’s Decision was fourth in a maiden claimer at Calder on Sept. 30 before being transferred to Cerin.

“He’s been here a month,” Cerin said. “He’s really good-looking, and he has a nice stride. He needs to improve quite a bit.”

Jim’s Decision faces a field that includes Riveting Reason, who has run in three Grade 1 races this year, finishing third in the Del Mar Futurity and Norfolk Stakes and eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Riveting Reason is owned and trained by breeder Myung Kwon Cho.

Cerin had two winners Saturday to move closer to the 1,000-win mark, including Briecat’s victory in the Treasure Chest Stakes at Delta Downs. Briecat is expected to make her next start at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

CashCall Futurity next for Premier Pegasus

Premier Pegasus, unbeaten in three starts, including the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes last Saturday, will be pointed for the $750,000 CashCall Futurity over 1 1/16 miles here on Dec. 18.

The Prevue Stakes was Premier Pegasus’s first start in a graded stakes and over seven furlongs. Premier Pegasus had no difficulty against a higher class of horses and in a longer sprint, leading throughout and winning by 1 1/2 lengths over the promising Industry Leader.

Cho was impressed by the way that Premier Pegasus finished, giving him hope the colt can extend his speed. “I can see that he will go two turns,” Cho said.

The CashCall Futurity is the richest race for the division in Southern California until the $1 million Santa Anita Derby in early April.

“That’s the race I’m thinking about,” Cho said of the CashCall Futurity.

Bourbon Bay eyeing Santa Anita meet

Bourbon Bay, a three-time stakes winner earlier this year, has resumed training after a brief illness but is unlikely to start in a major stakes in Hong Kong next month, trainer Neil Drysdale said.

The illness kept Bourbon Bay from an expected start in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup here on Nov. 13. Asked if Bourbon Bay would be pointed to the upcoming Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, Drysdale said, “It looks that way.”

◗ Kid Edward, third in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby and second in the La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar in August, will miss the Hollywood Derby after undergoing surgery on Saturday to have a bone chip removed from a knee, trainer Jim Cassidy said. Cassidy said that Kid Edward is likely to resume training in the spring.

◗ Turning Top will miss Sunday’s Matriarch Stakes in favor of an autumn break, trainer Simon Callaghan said. Callaghan said Turning Top will resume training in coming weeks for an expected return in February. “We want to have her ready for the Grade 1 races in the summer,” he said.

Owned by Michael Tabor, Turning Top has won 6 of 18 starts and $244,943. She was second in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes here on Oct. 2, her first start in a race at that level.