Bullsbay, who began his racing career at Hollywood Park, was back at his old stomping grounds Wednesday morning for the $700,000 TVG/Betfair Hollywood Gold Cup Saturday after nine months in the East.
“He knows his way around here,” said Alice Clapham, assistant to trainer H. Graham Motion, from Barn 53 North after the 5-year-old horse was shipped here Tuesday from Motion’s headquarters at Fair Hill, Md.
“He was vanned from Fair Hill to Newark, flown here Fed Ex and arrived here at 8 p.m.,” said Clapham. “He’s a good shipper. He galloped a mile this morning.”
Bullsbay, a Kentucky-bred son of Tiznow, made his debut here in November, 2007, for trainer Eric Kruljac and finished in a dead-heat for second in a six-furlong sprint but was disqualified for interference and placed ninth. He raced here again on the Gold Cup undercard June 28 last year and finished second in a seven-furlong allowance race.
Bullsbay was transferred to the Motion stable last autumn and developed into a leading stakes horse. He won the Grade III Alysheba Stakes and finished fourth in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap in his last two starts at Churchill Downs.
Bullsbay defeated Californian Stakes winner Informed in the Alysheba and was beaten by only 1 ¼ lengths in the Stephen Foster, in which he was edged in a photo for third by Einstein.
“Everyone who works with him at Fair Hill has been overjoyed at the way he’s been training,” said Clapham. Jeremy Rose, who has ridden him in his last four starts, retains the mount.
Motion will be here to saddle Bullsbay in the Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion Track. Bullsbay will leave from post four in a field of 13.
Bullsbay is one of three shippers for the Gold Cup. Parading was shipped here June 29 from New York by trainer Shug McGaughey in quest of his third straight graded stakes victory. Berkeley Handicap winner Autism Awareness was shipped here from Golden Gate Fields by trainer Genaro Vallejo.
Parading, a Phipps Stable homebred, will carry actual high weight of 119 pounds and be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, seeking his second $700,000 stakes victory here in six days after scoring with New York invader Gozzip Girl in the American Oaks Sunday. The 6-year-old horse was made the tepid 4-to-1 morning-line favorite.
Life Is Sweet, a multiple stakes-winning 4-year-old filly, seeks to become the first female to win the Gold Cup since Princessnesian in 1968. She was listed as the 9-to-2 second choice.
Dan Ward, an assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer who supervises his division here, hopes for good luck with Dakota Phone in the $700,000 TVG/Betfair Hollywood Gold Cup, which goes as the eighth race Saturday.
A victory by Dakota Phone would make up for the disappointment Hollendorfer suffered last year when Heatseeker, the morning-line favorite for the Gold Cup, was scratched with an ankle injury the day before the race. The 5-year-old horse was subsequently retired to stud duty.
“Heatseeker was just getting good,” said Ward, shaking his head. “He just drew off in the Californian.” A 5 ¼-length romp in The Californian in his previous start established Heatseeker as a short-priced favorite for the Gold Cup.
Dakota Phone, a 4-year-old gelding co-owned by Hollendorfer and Halo Farms, was a closing third in The Californian in his last start, beaten by three-quarters of a length. “Dakota Phone never runs a bad race,” said Ward. “There should be a decent pace in front of him. He’s real honest and runs hard every time.”
Dakota Phone worked four furlongs here Wednesday in 50.40 seconds with jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Ward had been through Gold Cup heart-ache similar to the Heatseeker saga before. “I was a groom for Bobby Frankel in 1979,” recalled Ward. “Johnny’s Image was training so good I think he would have beaten Affirmed.”
Affirmed won the race that year under 132 pounds. “Johnny’s Image had just won the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap,” said Ward. “He got into the Gold Cup with 122, and Laz (Barrera, trainer of Affirmed) was furious. But Johnny’s Image broke a splint bone just before the race, almost the same timing as Heatseeker.”
Trainer Jim Cassidy will rely on Irish-bred Meydan Princess in the $250,000 Royal Heroine Mile Saturday after Diamond Diva, who won the race last year when it was called the CashCall Mile, was forced to pass because of an injury.
“She’s leaving tonight for the farm,” said Cassidy Wednesday from Santa Anita of Diamond Diva, an English-bred who nipped Ventura by a nose last year. “It’s the same problem as last year, a suspensory. She will probably need six months off.” Diamond Diva was out for nine months following her victory last year before returning for two starts, most recently a third-place finish in the Gamely Stakes.
Meydan Princess will be ridden by David Flores, who won the CashCall Mile aboard Diamond Diva. Cassidy expects a big effort in the Grade II test for females at one mile on turf.
Meydan Princess won three of nine starts for trainer Jeremy Noseda in England before she was obtained by Forging Oaks Farm and transferred to Cassidy at the end of last year.
“Meydan Princess is doing real well, and I had planned to run her in this race anyway,” said Cassidy. “She’s a different type of horse than Diamond Diva, more up and coming, and I’m real happy with her.
“She’s run three times for me, and two of the races have been really good,” said Cassidy of a pair of closing seconds in allowance races on turf. “She can’t train any better than she has trained. We’ll find out where she fits Saturday.”
Meydan Princess drew post five in a field of eight in the Royal Heroine, which will go as the 10th race on an 11-race card.
On Sunday, one day after Life Is Sweet seeks to become the first female in 41 years to win the Gold Cup, another filly takes on males in the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship.
Necessary Evil, who set a track record of 56.68 for five furlongs while recording a 3 ¾-length victory in a spectacular debut May 31, seeks to become the first filly since champion Althea in 1983 to win the six-furlong Hollywood Juvenile.
Trainer Doug O’Neill will send out a powerful one-two punch in the Grade III test with Necessary Evil (Joel Rosario) and unbeaten Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes winner Classical Slew (Garrett Gomez).
Other probable starters are Really Uptown (Victor Espinoza), Zip Quik (Joseph Talamo) and Coo Cachoo.
The Sunday card will also include the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes, the meet championship for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Unbeaten Cinderella Stakes winner Well Deserved (Rosario) heads a lineup also expected to include Repo (Corey Nakatani), Champagne d’Oro (Gomez), Ballistic Sue (Tyler Baze) and Washington invader Feeling Fancy (David Flores).
FINISH LINES ─ Rafael Bejarano, who has ridden 1,999 winners, has seven mounts on the Thursday card to reach the 2,000 plateau. Bejarano, who has led the last six meets on the Southern California circuit, trails Joel Rosario, 67-61, with eight days left in a hotly contested race…Trainer Jeff Mullins said that multiple stakes winner Battle of Hastings would return to Colonial Downs for the Virginia Derby July 18 after working on the turf here Sunday. He also said that Hollywood Oaks winner Carlsbad would try grass for the first time in her career at Del Mar. “She loved it here Sunday,” said Mullins of an encouraging turf work…Hall of Fame trainers celebrate birthdays this week: Bobby Frankel turns 68 Thursday, and Ron McAnally 77 Saturday.
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