If the Grade I, $750,000 CashCall Futurity and the Grade II, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup are the main courses on Saturday’s Betfair Hollywood Park card, then the return of Zenyattta’s little sister, Eblouissante, in the fourth race – a $48,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track – is a gourmet appetizer.
The nearly black daughter of Bernardini and Vertigineux, who produced 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta and multiple Grade I winner Balance, made her long awaited debut (video) Nov. 16 and didn’t disappoint. Replicating Zenyatta’s patented stretch run, Eblouissante gathered steam into the far turn, swung out for clear sailing and drew away to win by 4 ¼ lengths under jockey Corey Nakatani.
Asked whether she has matured mentally or physically out of the race, trainer John Shirreffs said it’s a little early to say.
“She’s a little more alert, you might say,” said Shirreffs, who also conditioned Zenyatta. “The race woke her up a little. I haven’t really done much with her since the race. She breezed once and we’ve just tried to get her to settle down into a nice, calm routine. She’s been eating fine and there haven’t been any problems.”
Shirreffs indicated that owner-breeder Eric Kronfeld and a small group of friends will be flying in to see the race.
Eblouissante resides in the same stall occupied by Zenyatta throughout her career.
MEL STUTE REMAINS HOSPITALIZED; PHYSICAL THERAPY TO BEGIN
Annabelle Stute, wife of Mel Stute, reported the trainer was in good condition Thursday morning after injuring his head in a fall at their home Dec. 8. Stute remains in a private room at Cedars-Sinai Hospital and is scheduled for physical therapy later in the day.
“His C-T scan showed that the bleeding into his brain has stopped and he just needs time to heel,” said Annabelle. ‘‘He’s still a little confused and doesn’t know why he’s there. He wants to get up and go home.”
His wife added that Stute’s heart rate still needs to get under control and the head injury must heal before he can be discharged.
PANZA PLEASED WITH AUTUMN MEET BUSINESS
Martin Panza, Betfair Hollywood Park’s racing secretary and vice president-racing said he has been pleasantly surprised at the upbeat business during the Autumn meet, which concludes Sunday.
“Obviously, when there’s a 10-day break between meets, it certainly helps,” said Panza, referring to the fact that after Betfair Hollywood Park wraps, there won’t be live thoroughbred racing in Southern California until Santa Anita begins its Winter/Spring meet Dec. 26. “Realistically, we ran six weeks and had rain or rainy conditions during four of them. To end up doing what we did is really good.’’
Panza pointed out that field size was up – 8.11 in 2012 compared to 7.89 during the 2011 Autumn meet. “That number could actually go up,” said Panza. “Our weekend races (CashCall Futurity, Turf Cup and the return of Eblouissante) are good, and if we can hold off the rain, we could be up even more.”
“This was probably one of our easier meets in a long time. The races (filled) and the trainers really helped. It just sort of all worked out well.”
PUYPE STILL PUZZLED AT HOME JOURNEY’S POOR EFFORT
Trainer Mike Puype was still stumped Thursday about the last-place finish of previously unbeaten Home Journey in the Soviet Problem Stakes Dec. 9.
‘I haven’t seen much come up on her yet, so I don’t know,” said Puype. “We’ll kind of poke at her this week and see if we can find anything. I was very disappointed with her performance because she had trained so well.
“They don’t run that badly without a reason. Sometimes it takes a few days for whatever it is to show up.”
TRAINER MILESTONES—AUTUMN MEET EDITION
Three prominent trainers reached milestones during the 2012 Betfair Hollywood Park Autumn meet.
With four days left, Jerry Hollendorfer has three stakes wins, bringing the Hall of Famer’s total to 43 and moving him past William Molter (41) into 13th place on the all time list of stakes victories at BHP.
Hollendorfer, who has 6,280 lifetime victories, won the Cat’s Cradle Stakes with Going For a Spin, the Grade II Bayakoa with Lady of Fifty and the Soviet Problem with Doinghardtimeagain.
Meanwhile, Jeff Mullins captured the On Trust Stakes with Killer Bear and the Grade III Miesque with Travesura, giving him 22 stakes wins here, allowing him to surpass Buddy Hirsch and John Russell into 36th place.
On Nov. 9, the second day of the 24-day season, John Sadler picked up his 2,000th victory in North America with Rooster City.
FINAL SEMINARS CONCENTRATE ON FUTURITY, TURF CUP
Jockey Mario Gutierrez will be the guest of co-hosts Michael Burns and George Ortuzar on the final Escogiendo Ganadores (Picking Winners) of the Autumn meet Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Garcia, Burns and Ortuzar will discuss the rider’s career, including unforgettable victories aboard I’ll Have Another for owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness earlier this year.
Additionally, the trio will dissect the Saturday program, which is topped by the Grade II, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup and the Grade I, $750,000 CashCall Futurity. The Turf Cup is for older horses at 1 ½ miles while the Futurity, sponsored by Reddam’s consumer loan company, is for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track.
Escogiendo Ganadores begins at 11 a.m. at the Paddock Tote Board.
At 11:30 a.m. at the same location, Gino Buccola of Television Games Network (TVG) will host the final Hollywood Insider of the meet.
Buccola will offer handicapping tips, insights and other last minute information on the afternoon’s races.
CLOSING STRIDES— As expected, several horse racing personalities were on hand for Monday’s wedding of Julien Leparoux and Shea Mitchell. Jockeys in attendance included Joe Talamo, Aaron Gryder, Garrett Gomez, Rajiv Maragh, Tyler Baze and John Velasquez. Mike and Denise Mitchell, parents of the bride, also welcomed trainers John Shirreffs, Phil D’Amato and Hector Palma. Leparoux’s previous agent in Kentucky, Steve Bass, was there along with his current agent Joe Ferrer and other jockey agents Scotty McClellan (Talamo), Craig O’Bryan (Baze, Mario Gutierrez), and Tony Matos (Gomez)……….Black Rock Thoroughbred LLLP’s unbeaten Violence, winner of the Grade II Nashua Stakes last out, is scheduled to arrive at Betfair Hollywood Park Friday and will be stabled with Bob Baffert. The Todd Pletcher trainee drew post six in Saturday’s CashCall Futurity. Also due in Friday for D. Wayne Lukas is Oxbow, who will break from the outside in the 11-horse Futurity. Arriving with Oxbow will be stablemate Optimizer, who will compete in the Grade II, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup two races earlier…….Gomez was off all his mounts Thursday due to illness…….Saturday will also be the final Pick 6 Saturday, with a guaranteed pool of $150,000, $1 hot dogs and beer at Whittingham’s Pub if the total pool exceeds $200,000, and a new Toyota Prius –courtesy of Toyota of Orange – if there is a single winning ticket purchased on track or through Television Games Network (TVG). Bettors came close the last two Saturdays, as the second place finisher each day would have meant a lone winner and a new Prius……..Entering Thursday, there are three contestants remaining in the $2,500 winner-take-all Show Me the Money contest. The three survivors are Wayne Benafield (Henderson, Nevada), Anthony Lee (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) and Craig Mahl (Anaheim). The last player standing receives the cash prize. In the event of a tie, the first tiebreaker is number of wins. Additional tiebreaker information is available at official contest rules.
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