01/24/2013 1:19PM

Turf Paradise: Derive, Absolutely Cool continue rivalry in Swift


Suddenly he doesn’t seem so invincible. Derive, last year’s horse of the meet at Turf Paradise after compiling an impressive 6-for-6 local mark, looked on his way to another superb meet after an initial first win in the fall. But he was unexpectedly defeated in his last two starts.
That means Saturday’s $35,000 Swift Stakes is by no means a slam dunk for him. Nonetheless, Derive is the one to beat as he defends his title against six in the 5 1/2-furlong race, including top sprinter Absolutely Cool, who foiled him last month. The Swift is the main stepping-stone to the meet’s marquee event, the Phoenix Gold Cup on Feb. 16.

Trained by Robertino Diodoro, Derive, a 7-year-old gelding, dominated the 2011-2012 meet, winning all six of his starts, including this race as well as the Phoenix Gold Cup and Coyote handicaps. After finishing seventh at Santa Anita last spring, he got a vacation and came back firing to easily win an optional claiming sprint here Oct. 22. Sent off at even-money in the Dec. 8 Caballos del Sol, Derive dueled from the start and lost a nose decision to Absolutely Cool. Derive came back in another optional claimer here Jan. 4 and as the 1-2 favorite dueled early before finishing second. Regular rider Jorge Carreno stays up.

Absolutely Cool certainly considered Derive his nemesis during the 2011-2012 meet, finishing behind Derive three times. After running third in the Coyote, the 6-year-old Absolutely Cool, trained by Valorie Lund, was freshened until the Caballos del Sol, where he bided his time and finished gamely to beat Derive by a nose. Giovanni Franco rides.

It’s not just a two-horse race. Atta Boy Roy was fourth behind the top two in the Caballos del Sol and once upon a time competed against Grade 1 company. Call Me Jones may be a dangerous upstart. After being claimed for $10,000 at Del Mar last summer he has come to Turf Paradise and posted two romping wins in his first two local starts.

◗ Also on the program is the $35,000 Glendale Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf event for fillies and mares. It drew a field of six, including the very sharp locals Triveni and Smarty B, and scary Northern California raider Cal Bayers.

Triveni may be the one to beat. The 5-year-old mare invaded from California and dominated allowance foes Dec. 23, winning by 5 1/4 lengths for trainer Simon Callaghan. Her win looks even better when you note the horse who ran third, more than eight lengths behind her, Collating Lady, came right back to win by 4 3/4 lengths on Jan. 7. Collating Lady lines up against Triveni again here.

Smarty B is a proven commodity for trainer Dan McFarlane, finishing first in four of her last five, including the Chandler Handicap on Nov. 17. She was later disqualified from purse money in that race but came right back to win an allowance Dec. 26.

Cal Bayers invades from Northern California and comes here sharp having won six of her last 11 (four of those wins on turf) and makes her first start for trainer Carl O’Callaghan,  who claimed her for $12,500 off a main-track win at Golden Gate Fields on Nov. 16.