Ronin Dax, hoping that home cooking tastes better than two disappointing trips east, will return to the Southern California circuit for the $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park December 18, trainer and co-owner Bobby Troeger confirmed on Thursday.
“Mike Smith will work him here Friday,” said Troeger of the Hall of Fame jockey who has taken a call to ride the gray/roan son of Tapit for the first time in the Grade I test at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track.
Ronin Dax broke his maiden at first asking at one mile on turf August 25 at Del Mar, then finished fifth in two subsequent starts – the Summer Stakes Sept. 18 at Woodbine and the Iroquois Stakes Oct. 31 at Churchill Downs.
“The turf was soft at Woodbine, and he got rank in the Iroquois,” said Troeger. “He made two big runs in the Iroquois and hit a wall.
“If I could get him to make one run at the end of the race, he should be okay,” continued Troeger of the Kentucky-bred colt. “When he broke his maiden, he came from behind, which is what I would like to see him do again.”
Ronin Dax should find himself behind an honest pace in a large field, including stakes-winning pacesetters Comma to the Top and J P’s Gusto.
A field of 13 or 14 is shaping up for the 30th running of the race. Probable are Real Quiet and Generous stakes winner Comma to the Top (Corey Nakatani), Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Del Mar Futurity winner J P’s Gusto (Joe Talamo), Ronin Dax (Smith), a Bob Baffert-trained duo of Awesome Patriot (Victor Espinoza) and Prayer for Relief (Alonso Quinonez), a Doug O’Neill-conditioned pair of Boxeur des Rues (Julien Leparoux) and High Level Jeff (Joel Rosario), Florida-based invaders Gourmet Dinner (Sebastian Madrid) and Rustler Hustler (Ramon Dominguez), English import Crimson China (Garrett Gomez), Clubhouse Ride (Patrick Valenzuela), Industry Leader (Rafael Bejarano) and Riveting Reason. Slammer Time heads a short list of possible starters.
Boxeur des Rues worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.20 seconds Thursday to the satisfaction of O’Neill. The English import finished a closing fifth in the Generous in his second United States start for owner J. Paul Reddam, who is also co-owner of High Level Jeff. CashCall loan company owner Reddam sponsors the race.
Eight of the 13 probables would have to be supplemented to the race.
FLORIDA IMPORT LUNA GRANDE READY FOR $300,000 STARLET
Luna Grande, who joined the Kristin Mulhall stable here Sunday after being purchased privately in Florida for Pennsylvania owner Jim Hess, is ready for her biggest test in the $300,000 Hollywood Starlet, a Grade I test for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track Saturday.
“I was worried about her handling the distance when we first got her, but after galloping her, I don’t think that will be an issue,” said Mulhall Thursday after galloping the filly the past two mornings. “She’s a pretty-moving filly with big strides. We’ll take a hold of her and make one run.”
Luna Grande drew post four in a field of eight and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza. The Florida-bred daughter of Mass Media out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Dream Lady Dream has recorded two firsts and three seconds in eight starts at Calder. She rallied to win a 5 ½-furlong allowance race in her last start on November 20.
The only other newcomer in the lineup is speedster Nina Fever, who has been here for several weeks in the Blake Heap barn after being sent west from Kentucky by trainer Wesley Ward. Victorious in five of eight starts—including three of four on synthetics—Nina Fever will leave from post two with Garrett Gomez.
Rafael Bejarano, who won the race last year aboard Blind Luck, seeks his third Starlet win in four years aboard Sharp Cat Stakes winner May Day Rose, who leaves from post three.
STARLET, FUTURITY SERVE AS MAJOR FUTURE BAROMETERS
The Hollywood Starlet and CashCall Futurity have long been viewed as leading indicators for future success, and the results were never stronger than last year.
Lookin at Lucky clinched an Eclipse Award as 2-year-old champion with a victory in the Futurity. Recently retired to stud at Ashford Stud in Kentucky, Lookin at Lucky is favored to win another Eclipse as 3-year-old champion after a year that included victories in the Preakness Stakes and Haskell Invitational.
Blind Luck, a seven-length winner in the Starlet last year, is also favored to win an Eclipse Award as 3-year-old filly champion after an illustrious campaign that included victories in the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes.
FINISH LINES—U R All That I Am seeks to become the second horse to win the $75,000-added Cat’s Cradle Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares twice Sunday. The 4-year-old filly, who won the race for her first added-money victory last year for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, will try to join Supercilious, who won the first two runnings in 1997 and 1998…Trainer Marty Jones said the Monrovia Stakes January 2 at Santa Anita is next for female turf sprint star Unzip Me, third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in her last start…Del Mar Derby winner Twirling Candy worked seven furlongs in 1:26.60 and unbeaten Alcindor drilled four furlongs in 46.60 for a probable meeting in the Malibu Stakes December 26 at Santa Anita…Trainer Carl O’Callaghan said that defending champion Kinsale King may skip the Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita on January 22 because of the track’s switch to dirt. “I may look for something at Golden Gate,” said O’Callaghan of the Tapeta there as a prep for the Golden Shaheen Stakes in Dubai, also run over a Tapeta surface, which Kinsale King won earlier in 2010….A segment filmed by the “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’’ at Hollywood Park Nov. 19 will be shown during tomorrow night’s broadcast. Locally, The Late Late Show airs weeknights (12:30-1:30 a.m.).
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