INGLEWOOD, Calif. (December 3, 2011)—Making his first appearance in a stakes of any kind, Kettle Corn rallied determinedly along the rail to best Tres Borrachos in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap.
The win in the Grade III was the second of the Autumn meet and the third in five starts for the 4-year-old colt since he was purchased privately by trainer John Sadler for Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable.
A son of Candy Ride and the Lil E. Tee mare Somethingbeautiful, Kettle Corn saved ground throughout while never too far off the moderate pace set by the eventual runner-up, responded to strong handling from jockey Garrett Gomez and won by a half-length after gaining the advantage with less than a sixteenth of a mile to run.
Completing the 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track in 1:49.03, the Kentucky bred, who earned his maiden victory against $15,000 claimers Feb. 26 at Hawthorne, paid $19, $7.40 and $3.40. He’s won six of 12 in his career and banked $171,891.
Returning to the venue where he has collected three of his four wins, Tres Borrachos, the 17-10 favorite, returned $3.60 and $2.40. He finished 2 ¼ lengths clear of 2-1 second choice Tweebster. The show price on Tweebster was $2.40.
Massone finished fourth, a half-length behind Tweebster, then came Eldaafer, Summer Movie and Rescue Squad, who lost for the first time in three starts over synthetic surfaces. The 5-year-old had won twice previously over the Polytrack at Keeneland.
A winner in an optional claimer at the same distance Nov. 17, Kettle Corn provided Gomez with his third Native Diver success.
The jockey, who is closing in on 500 victories at Hollywood Park – he has 496 through Saturday – won the race in consecutive years with Trotamondo (2005) and Saint Stephen (2006).
“I tried to put him a little closer today because there wasn’t a whole lot of speed,’’ said Gomez, who was riding Kettle Corn for the first time. He replaced Joel Rosario, who stuck with Tres Borrachos.
“The horses in front were able to back it up a little bit and I was just trying to get him adapted to the situation. When I pointed him to the rail he was very game. In fact, he liked being down there. He just pinned his ears and went on with it.’’
Sadler indicated Kettle Corn, who was purchased with synthetic surfaces in mind, will be pointed to the $1 million Godolphin Mile next March at Meydan Race Course in the United Arab Emirates.
Second all time in victories at Hollywood Park behind only Bobby Frankel, trainer Mike Mitchell won with all three of his starters Saturday.
Mitchell, who has 866 wins locally – compared to 952 for Frankel – took the opener with Farley Star, the third with Lord Vronsky and the seventh with Position A. The triple moved him into second in the trainer standings for the Autumn meet. He has 10, leaving him two back of leader Bob Baffert.
The final race of the day was taken by first time starter June Cleaver, giving trainer Michael Ann Ewing her first victory at Hollywood Park.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 12:30 p.m.
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