Juddmonte Farms’ Emollient, winner of the Grade I Ashland April 6 at Keeneland, heads an expected field of seven for Saturday’s 12th running of the American Oaks.
A Grade I at 1 ¼ miles on turf, the $350,000 Oaks is restricted to 3-year-old fillies.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Emollient has earned $446,000. The daughter of Empire Maker has earned $446,900 while winning three of seven. She was second in the Grade II Demoiselle Stakes last Nov. 24 at Aqueduct. Most recently, she finished a troubled sixth as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade II Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has the assignment. Smith won last year’s American Oaks with a rail-skimming ride aboard Lady of Shamrock.
Another Hall of Fame trainer – Jerry Hollendorfer – indicated he’ll run Scarlet Strike and Macha, second and third, respectively, in the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park June 8. Scarlet Strike will once again be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, while Hall of Famer Gary Stevens takes over on Macha.
Sarach, who captured the Honeymoon at 8-1 for her first stakes victory, will try to repeat for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. Martin Garcia will likely employ the front-running tactics that proved successful in the Honeymoon.
Others under consideration for the Oaks are Becky Lou (trainer Matt Chew, no rider), fourth in the Honeymoon, Wittgenstein (Doug O’Neill, Mario Gutierrez), unplaced in the Honeymoon and Topic (Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, no rider), an impressive maiden winner June 13.
The Saturday card also features a pair of stakes for 2-year-olds – the Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship and the Landaluce for fillies. Both races offer $150,000 purses and will be run at six furlongs over Cushion Track.
Leading contenders for the Landaluce include Pleasant Miss (Jerry Hollendorfer, Rafael Bejarano), second to Sprouts in the $100,000 Cinderella Stakes June 15, impressive Pleasanton maiden winner She’s a Tiger (Jeff Bonde, Frank Alvarado), and On the Backstreets (Peter Miller, Joe Talamo), who suffered a displaced palate when finishing fourth as the favorite in the Cinderella.
Willie B Awesome, second to whirlwind winner Kobe’s Back in the $100,000 Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes June 15 will be well supported in the Hollywood Juvenile. Martin Pedroza will be astride the Awesome Gambler colt for trainer Walther Solis.
Also expected to be entered are Alpine Luck (Mike Harrington, Gary Stevens) and Ontology (Simon Callaghan, no rider), 1-2 finishers in a June 22 maiden race.
Game On Dude, who successfully defended his title in yesterday’s Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, came out of the race in great shape, according to Mike Marlow, assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
“He came back well,” said Marlow. “He ran like the champion he is. He’s just so professional. He never gets excited.”
Mike Smith echoed Marlow’s sentiments.
“He was unusually quiet in the post parade and he had me a little worried,” said Smith. “But when he went into the gate, he was all business.”
Game On Dude’s ultimate goal is the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Trainer John Sadler reported that Kettle Corn, who gave Game On Dude a brief scare at the top of the stretch before finishing second, returned in excellent order.
“He’s in good shape today.” said Sadler. “He’ll probably run twice at Del Mar; the San Diego (July 27) and (TVG) Pacific Classic (Aug. 25).”
Sadler said Kettle Corn’s big effort came be attributed in three equal parts to a great ride, getting 11 pounds (127-116) from the winner, and the addition of blinkers.
Additionally, trainer Mike Puype said Schiaparelli was fine Sunday morning following her victory in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile. Customer Base, winner of Friday’s $72,350 Lucie Manet Stakes, also pulled up well, according to trainer Tom Proctor.
Trainer Ron Ellis confirmed that Teddy’s Promise, a troubled third in the Desert Stormer Handicap June 15, will run in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 A Gleam Handicap at seven furlongs.
The A Gleam is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race, with the winner receiving a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, which will be run Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
Teddy’s Promise might have won the Desert Stormer with a clean trip. The 5-year-old Salt Lake mare took up into the turn and again at the quarter pole, yet was beaten less than one length by stablemate Include Me Out. The California bred is 5-for-10 on Cushion Track. Regular rider Victor Espinoza will be aboard.
Grade I winner Include Me out, who won the Desert Stormer in her first start of 2013, was expected to make her next appearance at Del Mar, but Ellis said the Include mare is doing so well she might join Teddy’s Promise in the A Gleam. If she runs, Joe Talamo will ride.
Peter Miller said he will enter Reneesgotzip, but she’s “only 50-50” to run. The City Zip filly was a close second in the Grade I La Brea Stakes in her most recent race last Dec. 26. Two races earlier, she was third, less than two lengths behind Mizdirection, in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Other probable starters include Rumor, winner of the Grade III Las Flores Stakes in March for Richard Mandella and Winding Way (trainer Carla Gaines), winner of the Grade III Rancho Bernardo Handicap last Aug. 19 at Del Mar.
Joe Talamo, who has been in a battle with Rafael Bejarano for leading rider at the Betfair Hollywood Park Spring/Summer meet, had a big day Saturday with four victories.
The Louisiana native scored with Gnarly Dude ($5.40) in the third, Cast a Doubt ($3.40) in the fourth, Schiaparelli ($4.20) in the Royal Heroine Mile, and Forever Freedom ($21.00) in the seventh.
Entering the final five days of the season, Talamo leads defending Spring/Summer champion Bejarano 49-45.
Gnarly Dude’s victory was his third of the meet, tying the gelding for most wins with Et Tu Walker and Unusual Hottie. The gelding was denied a chance for a fourth victory May 19 when he lost his rider at the start. Gnarly Dude was claimed from trainer Kristin Mulhall by John Sadler for $32,000 in a four-way shake.
Mike Puype’s victory with Schiaparelli in the Royal Heroine enabled him to stay within hailing distance in the trainer’s race. John Sadler continues to hold a four-win advantage, 25-21.
When it was announced that Kristine Leahy would call a race on the final Friday night card at Betfair Hollywood Park, the KCBS/KCAL sports reporter must have summoned all the feminine karma she could muster.
It worked, as several ladies had an unforgettable night, including Leahy, who became the first woman race caller in the history of Betfair Hollywood Park.
The race Leahy was chosen to call was won by Wrinkle Room, ridden by 10-pound apprentice Cecily Evans. It was the first victory for Evans, who visited Del Mar last summer and decided to stay. She’s been working as a freelance exercise rider ever since. Wrinkle Room returned $10.40.
It is a big deal when any rider wins their first race. Though fierce competitors on the race track, all riders get involved in the victory celebration. It is a moment all jockeys remember their entire lives.
On her way back to her changing room, Evans was drenched with soap, water and shaving cream from almost every rider on the grounds. Joe Talamo and Rafael Bejarano were right in the midst of the festivities armed with buckets of water.
Evans must have had a premonition of the victory. Twelve hours before the race she tweeted, “Ready to win with Wrinkle Room,” along with a picture of the horse looking out of her stall.
In the very next race, Keep Movin’, ridden by Edwin Maldonado, re-rallied along the rail for an $8.20 payoff to give trainer Karen Headley her first career win in just her second start since going out on her own. Karen has worked with her father, veteran trainer Bruce Headley, for years. The proud father was by his daughter’s side in the winner’s circle.
Trainer Patricia Harrington completed the evening’s theme, winning her first race of the year in the eighth and final with 15-1 shot Colinda.
Former jockey James Corral delivered and presented to Donna Cenicola, widow of Lewis Cenicola, a very special memento.
Cenicola died in January, 2012 at 66 from pancreatic cancer.
Though a long time trainer in Southern California, Cenicola probably was best known as the regular exercise rider for the great John Henry, who won 39 races and numerous stakes throughout his storied career.
Corral now owns a horseshoe-centric business called “If These Shoes Could Talk,” and makes such items as bridal shoe racks, horseshoe trophies and memorials. Corral used the shoes John Henry wore when he became the world’s richest horse in winning
the 1981 Jockey Club Gold Cup to fashion four handsome plaques. Each one includes a certificate of authenticity, signed by Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally.
Of the remaining three, he’s sending one to the National Horse Racing Museum in Saratoga, New York, one to Daily Racing Form columnist Jay Privman and keeping the other for himself.
CLOSING STRIDES*—If *Chantal Sutherland is harboring any ill will toward the connections of Game On Dude, she sure hasn’t shown it. “I’m super happy for them,” said Sutherland Sunday morning. “*Mike (Smith)* and I are good friends and I still love that horse.” Sutherland finished last aboard Bold Decision in yesterday’s sixth race, her first ride at Betfair Hollywood Park since ending a brief retirement in June. Sutherland rode Game On Dude to victory in the 2012 Hollywood Gold Cup to become the first female to win the track’s signature event……..Ral Ayers, the longtime assistant trainer to Jeff Mullins, will be moving to Mike Puype’s barn in the same capacity beginning at Del Mar……Legendary rider Laffit Pincay Jr., who was at Betfair Hollywood Park Saturday to present Eddie Delahoussaye with the trophy named in Pincay’s honor, is one of the breeders of Cosmic Heat, who won Saturday’s 10th race……*Julien Leparoux* will be at Arlington Park next Saturday to ride in a series of four stakes presented at the Chicago track. Speaking of French jockeys, Jerome Lermyte will begin riding in Southern California next week. The 25-year-old has ridden in France, Germany, America, Mauritius and Qatar. He tacks 114 pounds and plans to ride in the U.S. for the next three months.
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