Charles Fipke’s Java’s War, winner of the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes April 13 and a troubled 13th in the Kentucky Derby, heads a field of five or six likely starters in the Grade II, $150,000 Swaps Stakes.
The Swaps, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track, will be run Thursday, July 4, kicking off a loaded Fourth of July weekend at the Inglewood track. In honor of Independence Day, veterans and active duty personnel – with proper military identification – will receive free grandstand admission.
The Friday, July 5 program will mark the final night racing card at Betfair Hollywood Park. Post time is 7:05. A concert featuring 80z All Stars after the races are concluded and beer will be offered for $1 from 7-9 p.m.
Saturday, July 6, will feature the signature event of the Spring/Summer meet, the Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at 1 1-4 miles on Cushion Track. Defending champion Game On Dude is expected to head the field. A 75th anniversary commemorative DVD will be given away – one per paid admission while supplies last.
Trainer Ken McPeek confirmed to vice president-racing and racing secretary Martin Panza Thursday morning that Java’s War will be arriving at Betfair Hollywood Park July 1 and will be stabled in the barn of Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg.
A son of War Pass out of the Rainbow Quest mare Java, Java’s War has won three of eight starts with earnings of $672,091. He came to prominence last year with a fast-closing third in the Grade I Breeders Futurity at Keeneland. He hesitated and got away slowly in the Kentucky Derby May 4, all but dooming his chances in the 19-horse field. Julien Leparoux, who rode Java’s War in the Blue Grass and Kentucky Derby, once again has the mount.
Other Swaps contenders include Tiz a Minister (trainer Paul Aguirre, jockey Corey Nakatani), who came from far back to win the Grade III Affirmed Handicap June 2; Power Broker (Bob Baffert, no rider), who won the Grade I Front Runner at Santa Anita last Sept. 29 and coming off wins at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park; Dice Flavor (Paddy Gallagher, Mike Smith), victorious in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby Feb. 16 at Golden Gate Fields; and Chief Havoc (Peter Miller, no rider), a dominating allowance winner May 30.
RELENTLESS TALAMO FINALLY CATCHES BEJARANO
With a victory aboard Risky Reward in Sunday’s first race, Joe Talamo finally surpassed defending Spring/Summer champion Rafael Bejarano in the jockey standings at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Entering Thursday’s card, Talamo eads Bejarano 40-39. Throughout the meeting, Talamo would edge close to Bejarano, only to see the latter pull away. Edwin Maldonado is a clear third with 34 victories. Talamo tops all riders with eight stakes wins.
In the trainer’s race, John Sadler has led all the way and now has a seven-winner bulge (24-17) over Mike Puype, who catapulted into second with a record-tying six consecutive victories last week. Sadler is winning at 19 per cent and his horses have finished in the money 58 per cent of the time.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert is third with 16, followed by Peter Miller with 15 wins.
GAME ON DUDE, LIAISON, PAYNTER ON WORK TAB
Several stakes winners from Bob Baffert’s stable had key workouts this week.
Multiple Grade I winner Game On Dude, a Horse of the Year contender, and Liaison, winner of the Grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap May 4, each worked six furlongs Monday at Santa Anita. Both are expected to start in the Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Saturday, July 6.
Game On Dude, the defending Gold Cup champion, was timed in 1:12 3/5, while Liaison went 1:13 1/5. A 6-year-old son of Awesome Again, Game On Dude was second in the 2011 Gold Cup, defeated by a nose by stablemate First Dude.
Returning to the work tab Monday for the first time since his impressive comeback victory June 15 at Betfair Hollywood Park was Grade I winner Paynter, who drilled a half mile in :48 4/5. Owned by Ahmed Zayat, the 4-year-old son of Awesome Again has acquired a huge fan base since battling back from life-threatening illnesses last year.
Fast Bullet, an easy winner of the Grade I True North June 8 at Belmont Park, drilled a half-mile in :48 4/5 Wednesday morning.
DELAHOUSSAYE 10TH WINNER OF LAFFIT PINCAY, JR. AWARD
Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye will be presented the 10th annual Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award during the Hollywood Gold Cup program Saturday, July 6 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Pincay, a member of racing’s Hall of Fame since 1975, will make the presentation between the fifth and sixth races.
The Pincay Award is presented yearly to someone who has served the sport with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction.
“Eddie is one of the very best jockeys I ever rode against and he was definitely the best I faced on horses that came from behind,’’ said Pincay. “If you heard him coming during a race, you knew you were in big trouble.
“He’s a very low-key guy who has always handled things the right way and that’s something I continue to admire about him.’’
A native of New Iberia, Louisiana, Delahoussaye won 6,384 races – making him one of 17 jockeys with at least 6,000 wins – during a career that spanned all or part of five decades, ending with his retirement in January, 2003.
Nearly a quarter of those victories came at Hollywood Park. Delahoussaye ranks fifth on the all-time list at the historic track with 1,535 wins. He is fourth with 170 stakes successes, including three Gold Cup victories – Go West Young Man (1980), Island Whirl (1983) and Desert Wine (1984).
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993, Delahoussaye won the Kentucky Derby in consecutive years – Gato Del Sol (1982) and Sunny’s Halo (1983) – and also captured the Belmont Stakes twice with Risen Star (1988) and A.P. Indy (1992) and the 1988 Preakness with Risen Star.
A member of the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, Delahoussaye also won seven Breeders’ Cup events, including the Distaff with Princess Rooney in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup in 1984 at Hollywood Park.
Still active in racing as an owner-breeder and bloodstock advisor, Delahoussaye is a director on the board of the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1998 to develop programs to benefit and enhance the quality of life of California’s backstretch workers and their families.
The foundation was renamed in 2000 to honor the memory of Gregson, the primary advocate for the creation of the foundation and Gato Del Sol’s trainer when the gray son of Cougar II won the Kentucky Derby.
The Pincay Jr. Award was introduced by Hollywood Park in 2004 with esteemed executive and racing publicist Bob Benoit the initial winner.
Trainer Noble Threewitt was the recipient in 2005, while the Stute brothers — Mel and Warren — shared the award in 2006.
Owner/breeder Ellwood W. “Bud” Johnston, whose Old English Rancho is one of the most storied names in California racing, won the award in 2007, while distinguished steward Pete Pedersen was the recipient in 2008. Merlin Volzke, who also had a noteworthy career as a steward, became the first former jockey to win the award in 2009.
The Oak Tree Racing Association was honored in 2010, Jerry and Ann Moss were the 2011 winners and prominent owner-breeder and former California Horse Racing Board chairman John Harris was the 2012 recipient.
SHOEMAKER MILE TRIVIA
The Grade I Shoemaker Mile, which will be run for the 70th time Saturday, is the oldest stakes event at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Previously called the Premiere, the race had its first running on June 10, 1938, Hollywood Park’s opening day. The purse was $2,500 and the race was won by Air Chute, trained by Ted Horning and ridden by Basil James.
In the winners circle to present the trophy to owner William Boeing was actress Barbara Stanwyck.
The race was re-named for the immortal Bill Shoemaker in 1990. Shoemaker won the race a record six times. Interestingly, the Hall of Fame rider won the Grade I Triple Bend Handicap, co-feature with the Shoemaker Mile, more times (8) than the race named after him.
Last year’s top three finishers have gone on to distinguish themselves. Defending champion Jeranimo won the Grade II San Gabriel later in 2012. Runner-up Suggestive Boy captured the Grade II Arcadia and Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile. Third place finisher Little Mike really sparkled with victories in the Grade I Arlington Million and Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf.
CLOSING STRIDES—Garrett Gomez, who has not accepted mounts for the last week due to personal issues, will not return as expected this weekend, according to agent Tony Matos. “He’s not ready to come back yet,” said Matos. “He’ll let me know.” Gomez’s place on Za Approval in Saturday’s Grade I Shoemaker Mile has been taken by Victor Espinoza. Gary Stevens will ride Jimmy Creed in the Grade I Triple Bend Handicap…….. Leandro Mora, the talented assistant trainer for Doug O’Neill, will be the guest of co-hosts Michael Burns and George Ortuzar at the upcoming Escogiendo Ganadores (Picking Winners) session Saturday, June 29, which gets under way at 11:30 a.m. at the Paddock Tote Board. At 12 Noon, one of the on-air personalities from Television Games Network (TVG) will host the Hollywood Insider at the same location. Both seminars offer tips and insights into Saturday’s races……Go to the Pulpit, third in Sunday’s fifth race, will be moving to the Mark Glatt barn after a six-way shake for the $8,000 claimer…….. On Friday and Saturday, respectively, R S Watson and Comma to the Top will have a chance to join Unusual Hottie and Et Tu Walker as the only three-time winners at the Spring/Summer meet…..Saturday is another Pick 6 Saturday, with a guaranteed Pick 6 pool of $150,000. Should the pool exceed $200,000, $1 Happy Hour specials will be offered at Whittingham’s Pub and Betfair Players’ Lounge. Additionally, should there be a single winning ticket purchased on track or through TVG, a bonus prize of a 2013 Toyota Prius, courtesy of Toyota of Orange, will be awarded.
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