Garrett Gomez, Eclipse Award-winning jockey in 2007 and 2008, returns to California Sunday to ride Haimish Hy in the $250,000 Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park. The Hollywood Derby is the climax of the five-race $950,000 Autumn Turf Festival that begins Friday.
Gomez, who finished second in the Hollywood Derby last year aboard Battle of Hastings, will remain in California for the winter, according to agent Ron Anderson. “Go Go will fly out Saturday night after riding in a pair of 2-year-old stakes at Churchill Downs,” said Anderson Wednesday.
Haimish Hy, trained by Art Sherman, closed well to finish fifth, beaten by 3 ½ lengths in a paceless Oak Tree Derby in his last start on October 16 here. The Grade I Hollywood Derby is an eighth of a mile longer at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
Haimish Hy, winner of the El Cajon Stakes in his previous outing at Del Mar, will face three horses who finished in front of him in the Oak Tree Derby as well as a trio of newcomers.
Oak Tree Derby winner Fantastic Pick will try to repeat in the Hollywood Derby for trainer Jamie Lloyd and jockey Corey Nakatani.
Blue Panis, who finished a head back after setting most of the pace, will return under Joe Talamo. Sebastian Flyte, a fast-closing fourth, looks to move up under Joel Rosario.
Also probable are El Cajon runner-up Lions Story (Mike Smith) and recent allowance winner Juniper Pass (Brice Blanc) as well as New York invader Citrus Kid (Rafael Bejarano).
Citrus Kid, runner-up in the Grade I Jamaica Handicap on the Belmont Park turf in his last start on October 9, was stabled in Barn 61 North with Bob Baffert after being shipped here Monday from New York by trainer John Terranova.
“He looks good,” said Baffert. “I’m deputizing for John this week.”
Trainer Jim Cassidy reported that Kid Edward, third-place finisher in the Oak Tree Derby, suffered a chipped knee, underwent surgery Monday and will be sidelined from three to four months.
GYPSY’S WARNING, WASTED TEARS READY FOR MATRIARCH
Shippers Gypsy’s Warning from Maryland and Wasted Tears from Texas were on their toes Wednesday for the $250,000 Matriarch, a Grade I test for fillies and mares at one mile on turf that kicks off the Turf Festival Friday.
“She got in last night,” said Heather Craig, assistant to trainer Graham Motion, in Barn 50 North of Gypsy’s Warning, who arrived after a circuitous route from Motion’s training center in Fair Hill, Md.
“She seems in good form, shipped well and ate up,” said Craig of the 5-year-old South African-bred mare who is making her second trip here in two months. She finished a game third in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes here October 2 in her last start.
“I don’t think she’ll be as close to the lead as last time,” said Craig of the mare who inherited the pace-maker role in the Yellow Ribbon.
“She prefers a target,” said Aron Wellman, vice president of Team Valor International, co-owner of the mare who drew the rail in a field of seven.
Guaranteeing an honest pace will be Wasted Tears, a front-runner who drew the outside post for owner-breeder-trainer Bart Evans, who vanned the horse here Friday from Retama Park in San Antonio.
Wasted Tears, a 5-year-old mare with 11 wins in 17 starts, seeks to return to her winning ways after having a seven-race winning streak snapped in the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland, where she finished fifth on October 9.
“She has been doing well, and this seemed to be a decent spot,” said Evans from Barn 53 North. “I’m going to give her some R&R after this race and see if she wants to run next year.” Wasted Tears blew out three furlongs in 36.60 on the main track Tuesday.
Evans hopes his first visit to Hollywood Park is as successful as his California debut at Del Mar in August, when he won the John C. Mabee with the mare. The well-traveled mare has also won stakes at Lone Star, Keeneland and Gulfstream Park this year.
“In a seven-horse field, I don’t think the outside post should be a problem,” said Evans. “But it is a horse race. The San Andreas Fault may open and swallow us all.”
The Matriarch lineup also includes classy French invader Special Duty, a multiple Group I-winning 3-year-old filly who cleared quarantine Monday.
Christiane “Criquette” Head-Maarek, who trains the Juddmonte Farms homebred, is scheduled to arrive Thursday night.
Head-Maarek, 62, is the eldest of three daughters of former trainer Alec Head and sister of former jockey Freddy Head, a trainer best known for three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldikova.
Head-Maarek, married to racing journalist Gilles Maarek, has trained such stars as Three Troikas, Sigy, Ma Biche, Bering, Ravinella, Hatoof, and Anabaa.
Special Duty drew post six in the Matriarch, a race that Juddmonte has won a record six times, including last year with Ventura.
VIOLON SACRE, COURT VISION POISED FOR CITATION
Violon Sacre, a 5-year-old horse coming off consecutive stakes victories in the East, is ready for the toughest test of his career in the $250,000 Citation Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf Saturday.
“It looks like he’s getting good right now,” said Chris Crowe, assistant to trainer Patrick Biancone, from Barn 55 Wednesday. The son of Stravinsky won the Grade III Knickerbocker Handicap on the turf at Belmont October 17 after winning the PTHA Cup at Philadelphia Park on September 18.
“Patrick got him last winter in Florida,” said Crowe of the horse who began his career in France and has captured 10 of 17 starts. He drew post six in a field of 10 under Pablo Fragoso in the Citation under 118 pounds.
Court Vision, the 122-pound highweight, drew post eight under Joel Rosario. The multiple Grade I stakes winner was shipped here Monday from New York by trainer Rick Dutrow.
Court Vision, who won the 2008 Hollywood Derby in his last visit here, signaled his readiness for the Citation by working five furlongs in a bullet 59.20 Tuesday. He is stabled with Mike Mitchell in Barn 72 West under the supervision of Chip Dutrow, brother of the trainer.
NEW FACES TO DOMINATE MIESQUE
Holiday for Kitten hopes to celebrate Thanksgiving three days late when she makes her California debut in the $100,000 Miesque Stakes, a Grade III test for 2-year-old fillies at one mile on turf Sunday.
Holiday for Kitten, trained by Wesley Ward for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, broke her maiden in her third start on the Keeneland turf on October 31.
“She came in on the 16th and worked yesterday: four furlongs in 48 and galloped out in 1:00 4/5,” said trainer Blake Heap, who will deputize for Ward, Wednesday from Barn 74 East. Joel Rosario has the call.
Cloneylass arrived from New York Monday for trainer Rick Dutrow and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani in her second United States start. The Irish-bred filly finished third in the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland in her U.S. bow on October 14.
The lineup will also include Wave of Applause, a recent arrival from England in the Jim Cassidy barn. The filly, a winner in one of two starts for Tommy Stack, will be ridden by Mike Smith. She blew out three furlongs in 36.40 on the main track Wednesday.
The field is also expected to include California Cup Juvenile runner-up California Nectar (Patrick Valenzuela) and recent maiden winner Neversaidiwassweet (Rafael Bejarano).
COMMA TO THE TOP TESTS TURF IN GENEROUS
Comma to the Top, a rousing 6 ½-length winner in the Real Quiet Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track in his last start November 6, drew post eight in a field of nine for his turf debut in the $100,000 Grade III Generous Stakes at one mile for 2-year-olds Saturday.
“He’s got the pedigree,” said trainer Peter Miller Wednesday of the transition to grass. “He’s got In Excess on top and Stormy Atlantic on the bottom. I’m going to gallop him over it Friday.
“He’s just getting better and better,” said Miller of the Florida-bred gelding. “He just worked five furlongs in 59 2/5 seconds and looked like he was going 1:03. I’m excited about him. Hopefully after this, he will come back in the Futurity ($750,000 CashCall Futurity December 18).”
Corey Nakatani has the Generous call under high weight of 122 pounds. The lineup includes two English imports: Surrey Star and Dominator.
Surrey Star, ridden by Joe Talamo for Jim Cassidy, finished second by a nose in the Group III Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket and earned a sparkling 102 Racing Post rating. Dominator, one of three horses entered by Doug O’Neill, won a maiden stakes at Ayr in his only start on August 7.
NAKATANI TRIES TO PAD TURF FESTIVAL FIGURES
Corey Nakatani, who leads all jockeys in Turf Festival victories with 13, will try to add to those figures with four mounts in the five races this weekend. He is also tied for the lead in Miesque wins with four with Eddie Delahoussaye, a deadlock he hopes to break aboard Cloneylass.
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela and trainer John Sadler also hope to take undisputed leads in stakes leadership this week. Valenzuela shoots for his fourth Citation victory aboard Enriched in an effort to break a tie with Hall of Famers Bill Shoemaker, Gary Stevens, Chris McCarron and Laffit Pincay, Jr.
Sadler aims for his third victory in the $100,000 Grade III Vernon Underwood Stakes Thursday with highweight Cost of Freedom. He is tied for the lead with Bobby Frankel and Wesley Ward.
TURBULENT DESCENT CONTINUES FLORIDA-BRED ASCENT
Turbulent Descent, facile winner of the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes Sunday, continued the domination of Florida-breds in the 2-year-old filly division in California this summer.
Turbulent Descent became the sixth straight Florida-bred to win an unrestricted stake worth $100,000 or more on the Southern California circuit in her division. Dawnie Macho began the streak by winning the Landaluce Stakes here in July. She was followed by Wickedly Perfect in the Sorrento Stakes and Tell a Kelly in the Darley Debutante at Del Mar. That was followed by the Rigoletta in the Oak Leaf Stakes during the Oak Tree Racing Association meet here and May Day Rose in the Sharp Cat Stakes earlier in the Autumn meet.
Unbeaten Turbulent Descent impressed trainer Mike Puype, who said the filly would probably return in the $250,000 Grade I Starlet Stakes December 11.
FINISH LINES—A Z Warrior worked four furlongs in 46.60 Wednesday for Bob Baffert, who is targeting the Starlet for the Frizette Stakes winner… Wesley Ward has shipped highly regarded Nina Fever to Hollywood Park for the Starlet…Trainer Ruben Cardenas said that Great Rising Star would be forced to miss the Generous Stakes because of a chipped knee but that Lucky Trippi was possible for the Miesque. Both 2-year-olds are owned by Nick Green’s Green Grass Stable, which sounds like a winner on turf… Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said that Dakota Phone, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, would make his next start in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap December 4…Trainer Carl O’Callaghan has scrapped plans for the Hong Kong Sprint next month for Kinsale King because of a foot infection. “We’re going to give him some time and get him ready for the Palos Verdes and Dubai again,” said O’Callaghan in reference to his victories in the Santa Anita sprint and the Golden Shaheen Stakes this year…Apprentice jockey Alex Gonzalez, who missed most of the Del Mar meet because of a concussion, has received an extension of his weight allowance through the end of this meet….Traditional complimentary Thanksgiving dinners will be served to licensed horsemen in the stable kitchen Thursday beginning at 10 a.m…A special Thursday program begins with an 11 a.m. first post.
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