Courageous Cat, who may rule as the favorite in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile Saturday at Hollywood Park, stood calmly in his stall in Barn 60 North Thursday after arriving from New York Wednesday.
“He flew in last night Fed Ex,” said Rudolph “Rudy” Brisset, assistant to trainer Bill Mott. “He’s a very good shipper. Everything went smoothly. He ate well and was on the track this morning. He jogged a little and galloped a mile.”
Courageous Cat, a 5-year-old horse, drew the rail in a field of seven in the Grade 1 grass stake and will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela. Owned and bred by Marty and Pam Wygod, the royally-bred son of Storm Cat out of multiple stakes-winning mare Tranquility Lake has won five of 12 starts and earned $781,300.
Courageous Cat comes off a 2 ¼-length win in the Grade III Poker Stakes at one mile on the Belmont Park turf June 10, his first start in eight months.
“He needed time off after Keeneland,” explained Brisset of the layoff following a third-place finish in the Grade I Shadwell Mile last October. “He had an entrapped epiglottis, had surgery and needed time to recover.”
In his only previous visit to California, Courageous Cat finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2009 at Santa Anita, one-half length behind Goldikova.
Shippers have done well in recent runnings of the Shoemaker. Kentucky shipper Thorn Song won the race in 2009. Another Kentucky shipper, Karelian, just missed last year, finishing second, a head behind Victor’s Cry.
COURAGEOUS WAIT FOR TRIPLE BEND
Trainer Paco Gonzalez hopes to be rewarded for his patience with Color of Courage in the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap, a Grade I test at seven furlongs on Cushion Track Saturday.
The 4-year-old gelding returned from a 19-month layoff with a pair of sharp allowance victories at this meet to earn a berth in the stake against seven rivals.
“He had a chip taken out of a knee at the end of his 2-year-old season,” explained Gonzalez. “I was going to bring him back last summer at Hollywood Park, but the day he was entered – Oct. 6 – a heavy, sudden rain storm flooded a section of Cushion Track on the backstretch and the races were canceled.
“I entered him back three days later but in between he got a temperature and was scratched,” continued Gonzalez. “He got sick and I turned him out for two months at John’s farm (owner John Toffan of Bradbury).”
Color of Courage needed a lengthy period to recover but has come back like gangbusters, rallying from far back to win a 6 ½-furlong allowance race May 15 and overcoming a stumbling start to win a seven-furlong allowance race June 10 in 1:21 3/5 and earn a 101 Beyer figure.
“He grabbed a quarter in that race but it healed quickly,” said Gonzalez of the homebred by Came Home out of the Holy Bull mare Color Magic.
“He’s a bigger horse than Came Home,” said Gonzalez of his multiple stakes winner.
How will Color of Courage fare in Grade I stakes company? “We’re going to find out,” said Gonzalez.
CANANI HIGH ON GIVINE FOR ROYAL HEROINE
Trainer Julio Canani, who has won the Royal Heroine Mile a record three times, has high hopes for number four with Givine in the $150,000 stake on July 4. The Grade II test is for fillies and mares on grass.
“Givine has been training unbelievably,” said Canani of the French-bred 4-year-old filly. “After her last work, (jockey Joe) Talamo said he loved her.”
Givine, owned by Marsha Naify, rallied to win the six-furlong Great Lady M Stakes on turf here May 29 in her second U.S. start and won three times at one mile in her native France.
“She galloped out 10 lengths in front after that last race,” said Canani.
“I trained her father, Blackdoun, who won three stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf at Del Mar. This one is like her father. She’s gray and has a big kick.”
Canani won the Royal Heroine twice with French import Tuzla in 1998 and 1999 and completed a three-peat with Tranquility Lake in 2000.
Expected to join Givine (Talamo) in the Royal Heroine are 2010 American Oaks winner Harmonious (Joel Rosario), Redondo Beach Stakes winner Wild Mia (David Flores), Redondo Beach runner-up Andina (Garrett Gomez) and Gamely Stakes runner-up Celtic Princess (Rafael Bejarano).
Miss Pleasant heads a list of possible starters.
McPEEK DUO SETTLES IN FOR STAKES ENGAGEMENTS
Dark Cove, a profitable claim, and Bizzy Caroline, an accomplished homebred, settled into Barn 60 North for Grade I stakes after arriving here Sunday from Kentucky for trainer Ken McPeek.
“Both horses are feeling good and will work five furlongs together Sunday,” said Alan Shell, assistant to McPeek.
Dark Cove is being readied for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 9 while Bizzy Caroline is targeting the $250,000 American Oaks July 16. Rafael Bejarano has the call on both.
“For the filly, it was the most logical spot, a Grade I, she’s so strong right now,” said Shell of Bizzy Caroline, who recorded her third straight turf victory in the Grade Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs June 18.
The Afleet Alex filly is owned by octogenarian Catesby Clay, owner of Runnymede Farm, who named her after his two granddaughters.
Dark Cove, a 4-year-old colt, was claimed for $16,000 as a maiden at Saratoga last August by McPeek for his Magdalena Racing and Joseph Engelhart.
“Joe and Kenny put their heads together, and he’s turned out to be a real good investment,” said Shell. “They’re playing with house money now.”
Dark Cove, by Medaglia d’Oro, has won four of eight starts and earned $182,447 since the claim. He is 2-for-2 on synthetic surfaces.
SISE MOVES TO RANCHO PASEANA, DISPERSES STABLE
The only sign left of trainer Cliff Sise in Barn 53 North was a stall webbing with his initials. Sise left Monday to take over as farm manager and trainer for Rancho Paseana, owned by Jenny Craig, near Del Mar.
“We have 120 horses here,” said Sise, adjusting to his new surroundings Thursday. “I had 25 in training at Hollywood Park. I sold some, gave some to other trainers—John Sadler, Jerry Hollendorfer, Marty Jones, Hector Palma, Paul Aguirre—and brought seven down here that will also go to other trainers.”
Sise, 59, is probably best known for stakes-winning sprinters Paying Dues and Idiot Proof, second-place finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 1996 and 2007, respectively.
FINISH LINES—The $70,000-added Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap at six furlongs on turf Sunday has attracted a field of eight, including two Breeders’ Cup winners. California Flag, the 122-pound highweight making his season debut, won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2009. Dancing In Silks, pegged at 118, won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint the same year…Trainer Neil Drysdale seeks a transcontinental Grade I stakes sweep Saturday with Liberian Freighter in the Shoemaker Mile and Bourbon Bay in the $750,000 United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park. Garrett Gomez will ride defending champion Chinchon in the New Jersey race…Cinderella Stakes winner Killer Graces worked five furlongs in 1:00 for the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes July 16 while Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes winner Majestic City drilled four panels in 50.20 for the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship the following day…Vanity Handicap winner Blind Luck worked five furlongs in 1:01 for her next probable start in the $750,000 Delaware Handicap July 16…Apprentice jockey Eswan Flores, an 18-year-old high school senior from El Monte who has been riding quarter horses at Los Alamitos, will make his thoroughbred debut Friday night in the eighth race, a seven-furlong maiden claiming event, on Aeromon for trainer Vladimir Cerin … Jack Baedeker, long-time partner with his brother Bud in publishing the Baedeker’s Guide tip sheet at California tracks, passed away June 24 at age 96.
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