Saturday’s feature may have been called the American Handicap, but it was a pair of Europeans who stole the show.
Irish-bred Obviously won the Grade II, $150,000 contest, defeating French-bred Lucuyan by 2 1-2 lengths in the mile turf event. Their respective connections are looking forward to a rematch in the Grade I, $300,000 Shoemaker Mile June 29.
Trainer Mike Mitchell was ecstatic with Obviously’s performance. “He came out of the race great,” beamed Mitchell. “If everything looks good, he’ll go next in the Shoemaker Mile.”
His victory in the American was Obviously’s third consecutive in a Grade II race.
Neil Drysdale, who saddled Lucayan for his first race in the United States, was equally pleased with his colt’s second place finish. “He came back very well,” reported Drysdale.
“I really thought there would be more speed to go with (Obviously). He’ll come back in the Shoemaker and then we’ll go from there.”
Lucayan showed off his quality last year with a victory in the Group I French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp.
SPRINGSTEEN FANS CASH A TICKET IN THURSDAY’S SECOND
There was a definite Bruce Springsteen vibe in the air when On the Backstreets won the second race May 23 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
“(Co-owner) David Lanzman is a huge Springteen fan, as am I,” said trainer Peter Miller.
“With this horse’s pedigree, the name is a natural.”
On the Backstreets was named for the Springsteen song Backstreets, which was included in the artist’s 1975 album, Born to Run. The 2-year-old’s sire is Street Boss and thus a perfect fit for Springsteen’s nickname, The Boss.
Here are the last few lines of the lyric:
Stranded in the park and forced to confess
To hiding on the backstreets, hiding on the backstreets
We swore forever friends, on the backstreets until the end
The $105,000 Barretts March Juvenile purchase is expected to start next in the $100,000 Cinderella Stakes June 15.
LIAISON, KETTLE CORN AT IT AGAIN IN SATURDAY’S CALIFORNIAN
Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison and CRK Stable’s Kettle Corn, the 1-2 finishers in the Grade II
Mervyn LeRoy Handicap May 4, are scheduled to renew their rivalry in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Californian.
The 1 1-8 mile Cushion Track race is the final major prep for the Grade I $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 6.
Liaison has won three of five starts over the Betfair Hollywood Park main track, including a victory in the Grade I CashCall Futurity in 2011. The son of Indian Charlie is 2-for-2 this year for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who picked up his first victory in the Californian a year ago with Game On Dude. Martin Garcia once again has the call aboard Liaison.
Kettle Corn has a solid record on Cushion Track (7-2-2-3) and was a fast finishing second in the LeRoy. The 6-year-old son of Candy Ride was second to Game On Dude in the 2012 Hollywood Gold Cup. Victor Espinoza will be aboard for John Sadler.
Likely to join those two in the gate are Six S Racing, et al’s Clubhouse Ride, who finished within a half-length of Game On Dude in the Grade II Charles Town Classic April 20. The son of Candy Ride is the top earner ($869,620) of the expected starters. Trainer Craig Lewis confirmed Garrett Gomez will ride.
Others under consideration for the Californian are Batti Man (trainer Dan Hendricks), Blueskiesnrainbows (Jerry Hollendorfer), Rousing Sermon (Hollendorfer) and Oilisblackgold (Craig Dollase).
JOCKEY, TRAINER NOTES
Mike Mitchell’s victory with Obviously in Saturday’s American Handicap was his seventh of the Spring/Summer meeting and enabled him to move into a tie for fourth place with Peter Miller and Adam Kitchingman in the trainer’s race.
Mitchell is just two wins short of 900 victories at Betfair Hollywood Park. Bobby Frankel is the only other trainer to have reached that plateau. He won 952 races at the historic track.
Trainer Ron Ellis needs five wins for 1,000 in his career.
Entering Sunday, John Sadler and Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer are tied for the top spot with 11 wins apiece. Bob Baffert, also in racing’s Hall of Fame, is right behind with 10.
With a gate-to-wire victory astride Facoltoso in Saturday’s fifth race, Victor Espinoza is two shy of 3,000 career wins. Espinoza has three chances Sunday and four more Monday to reach the milestone.
Rafael Bejarano, who registered his 3,000th win earlier in the Spring/Summer meet, has crept away in the standings, leading Joe Talamo 27-21. Edwin Maldonado is third with 20. Rounding out the top five are Tyler Baze (16) and Martin Pedroza (15).
SIX PLAYERS CONTINUE IN SHOW ME THE MONEY
Six players remain active in the $2,500 winner-take-all Show Me The Money contest at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The free challenge, which began May 5 with 1,744 players, requires a participant to choose one horse each racing day – in six designated races – at least 10 minutes prior to the first race. The selected horse must finish first, second or third for a player to continue.
The last player standing receives the cash prize. Should more than one contestant still be alive at the conclusion of racing July 14 – closing day of the Spring/Summer meet – the winner will be decided by a tiebreaker. The first tiebreaker is number of wins.
Four Californians – Pamela Erickson of Oakland, Carlo Fisco (Culver City), Jim McCullough (San Gabriel) and Larry Mineau (Whittier) – are among the survivors through the first 12 days of Show Me The Money.
Also still playing are Linda Johnson of Maysville, Kentucky and Jim O’Toole (Park Ridge, Illinois).
Erickson’s Saturday selection was Midnight Crooner, who finished second as the even-money favorite in the fifth race, while Mineau and O’Toole chose seventh race runner-up Mia Lady.
Fisco’s pick was Sidepocket Run, who wound up third in the seventh. Johnson’s choice was Stylish in Black, who was scratched from the seventh, so she wound up with Mia Lady, the 6-5 favorite. The selection for McCullough was Brown Boss, who was second as the 3-2 choice in the ninth race.
CLOSING STRIDES …..According to agent Tony Matos, Garrett Gomez is still body sore and has taken off his mounts Sunday. Gomez, who was injured in a spill Friday, is expected back Monday…….In honor of Memorial Day, veterans and active duty personnel will be allowed free general admission with military identification. Post time is 1 p.m. for the special Monday racing card.……..There was a single ticket alive in Saturday’s Pick 6 to favored Brown Boss, who finished second. The resulting carryover to Sunday was $113,928…….Kettle Corn worked 6 furlongs Sunday in 1:13 3/5 for next week’s Grade II $150,000 Californian…… Bob Baffert has five of the 13 nominees to the Grade III Affirmed Handicap, to be run Sunday, June 2 at 1 1-16 miles on Cushion Track.
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