Racing fans across the country are filling up the bandwagon following Shared Belief’s dazzling victory in the Grade I CashCall Futurity Dec. 14.
But it’s not only racing enthusiasts that are following the Candy Ride gelding. Horsemen who have raced against him are also heaping praise on the 2-year-old trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer.
“I thought he was the best 2-year-old in the country before the Futurity,” said trainer John Sadler, whose two horses finished a distant second (Candy Boy) and tenth (Kobe’s Back).
“I saw nothing to change my mind. The only question left is if he can do it on dirt.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the CashCall Futurity a record six times, echoed that sentiment. “He’s really good for a horse coming on this late,” observed Baffert, who saddled Tap It Rich for an 11th place finish in the CashCall. “Let’s see if he can duplicate his form on dirt.”
Trainer Ken McPeek, whose Sheikinator and Rankhasprivileges finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the CashCall, knows a few things about young horses. The trainer shipped Pure Fun to Betfair Hollywood Park to capture the Grade I Hollywood Starlet in 2012.
“He (Shared Belief) was extremely impressive,” stated McPeek. My two horses are pretty good and he just showed them his tail. I liked the way he rated and it didn’t bother him when (Candy Boy) passed him.”
For his part, Hollendorfer knows how many pitfalls there are between now and the first Saturday in May and refuses to get too excited. He doesn’t like phrases such as “Derby trail” and “prep races.”
Hollendorfer is keenly aware that Shared Belief must prove himself on dirt.
“He’s never been on it since I’ve had him,” he said. “I don’t know what he did before I got him.
“It’s a long, hard road ahead. We’ll just do the best we can.”
Horsemen’s liaison Sandy King is spearheading a project to find homes for cats residing in the stable area.
Live racing will cease after Sunday’s program and the barn area will be closed at the end of January.
Some of the felines go from track-to-track along with the horses, but generations of cats have been permanent residents of the backstretch.
King, along with the Equine Hospital, trainer Alexis Barba, Vicki Neuman and other volunteers, have been working tirelessly to find homes for the soon-to-be displaced animals.
“We found a little calico with a full litter about 11 years ago,” said King. “She’s been hanging around the racing office ever since. One of her sons is still around here. We just found her a home a few days ago.”
King said there are about 50 cats remaining.
“There are all kinds left—tamed, feral and kittens.”
Anyone interested in adoption can contact King at (310) 419-1668 through the end of next month.
Though winter officially arrives three hours before first post Saturday, beautiful weather awaits racing fans on the final weekend of racing at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Clear skies are in the forecast, with temperatures expected to reach 65 degrees Saturday and 70 Sunday.
Post time for the remainder of the final Autumn meet is 12:30 p.m. Track gates will open at 9:55 a.m.
Saturday’s feature race is the $200,000 Soviet Problem Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on Cushion Track. The race is a part of the Golden State Series for horses bred or sired in California.
Beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Paddock Tote Board will be The Hollywood Insider, a free seminar hosted by one of the analysts from Television Games Network (TVG). The handicapping session will break down the Soviet Problem and offer handicapping tips on the rest of the card.
The Spanish-Language seminar – Escogiendo Ganadores (Picking Winners) – begins at 11 a.m. Saturday’s special guest will be jockey Edwin Maldonado, who shared the 2013 Spring/Summer riding title with Rafael Bejarano after winning the 2012 Autumn championship.
Michael Burns and George Ortuzar are co-hosts for the session, which will also be held at the Paddock Tote Board.
Commemorative pins honoring great races in Betfair Hollywood Park history will be handed out Saturday and Sunday, one with each paid admission, while supplies last.
Saturday’s collector’s item pays tribute to the Charlies Whittingham Memorial Handicap, named for the Hall of Fame trainer who is the all time leader in stakes wins (222) at the Inglewood track.
The pin features the silks of Sam and Dorothy Rubin’s Dotsam Stable, owners of fan-favorite John Henry, who won the Hollywood Invitational – known as the Whittingham since 1999 – in 1980, 1981 and 1984. Legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker won the race 13 times and Whittingham 11.
Sunday’s pin honors the Sunset Handicap, the traditional closing day feature of the Spring/Summer meet.
Another Golden State Series event, the $200,000 King Glorious Stakes, is the feature attraction Sunday, the final day of racing at the legendary venue.
Named for the winner of the 1988 Hollywood Futurity, the King Glorious is for 2-year-olds bred or sired in California and will be run at seven furlongs over Cushion Track.
There will also be drawings for gift cards and other special prizes throughout the day. A pair of $50,000 starter allowance races – the Valley Lass and Auld Lang Syne – will also be offered during the 11-race card.
The Valley Lass honors the first horse to win at Hollywood Park. The 2-year-old California bred filly took the opener June 10, 1938 under jockey Silvio Coucci.
The Auld Lang Syne is scheduled as the finale. The Valley Lass is at one mile on turf while the Auld Lang Syne will be run at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
In commemoration of the closing of Betfair Hollywood Park, mutuel tickets purchased on Sunday will have special messages highlighting some of the unforgettable achievments from legendary performers – both human and equine – during the 75-year history of the track.
CLOSING STRIDES— Jerry Hollendorfer can establish an Autumn meet record for most stakes wins by a trainer with a victory in either the $200,000 Soviet Problem Saturday or the $200,000 King Glorious Sunday. Hollendorfer is scheduled to start Swiss Lake Yodeler in the Soviet Problem and will have two opportunities with Pray Hard and Life Is a Joy in the King Glorious……With three racing days remaining, it appears the race for leading rider will go right down to the wire. Entering Friday, Rafael Bejarano was up one (31-30) over Joe Talamo. Bob Baffert tops the trainers with 16 wins, three more than Doug O’Neill and John Sadler.
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