INGLEWOOD, Calif. (October 30, 2010)—Soul Candy made a successful surface transition to win the day’s richest event, helping Rafael Bejarano join Victor Espinoza and Joe Talamo as the riding stars of the 21st California Cup Saturday at Oak Tree/Hollywood Park.
Making his first appearance on something other than turf in his 10th career race, Soul Candy won the $150,000 California Cup Classic Presented by City National Bank as the 5-1 third choice in a field of eight.
Ridden for the first time by Bejarano, Soul Candy, a 4-year-old Birdonthewire gelding out of the Lil Tyler mare Just Satisfaction, trailed early, then swept past favored Enriched in the final furlong to earn his most significant victory.
Owned by breeder Madera Thoroughbreds and E Z Eight Racing Stable and trained by Paddy Gallagher, Soul Candy ran the 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track in 1:48.49.
The 1 ¼ length win was his fourth and the $90,000 top prize boosted his bankroll to $205,300.
He paid $12.40, $5.80 and $3.60. Unusual Suspect returned $4.80 and $3.00. He defeated Enriched, Lava Man’s half-brother, by a nose. Enriched, who had been 1-2 in his four previous starts over Cushion Track, paid $2.40 to show as the 7-5 choice.
“It’s nice to run in these Cal bred stakes,’’ said Gallagher, who also won the 2005 Classic with McCann’s Mojave. “He’ll be more of a distance horse. He keeps going steady. He doesn’t have a big turn of foot, he just stays steady and that helped today. It was a nice pace and that helped him.’’
Bejarano completed his stakes double a race later, getting up in the final strides with 19-10 favorite Slammer Time in the $75,000 California Cup Bob Benoit Juvenile.
The head victory was the second in four starts for Slammer TIme, a 2-year-old Grand Slam colt out of the In Excess mare Excessively Wicked. Owned by Alto Racing and trained by Gary Mandella, Slammer Time has earned $83,152. The time for the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track was 1:44.63.
A winner against maidens on turf Oct. 11, Slammer Time paid $5.80, $3.60 and $2.60. Joy Boy, who finished 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Woodmans Luck, paid $7.40 and $4.60. The show price on Woodmans Luck was $3.
Espinoza and Talamo also won a pair of stakes, giving three riders six of the seven such events for California breds. Joel Rosario won the other, taking the $100,000 California Cup TOC/CTT Matron aboard Ultra Blend.
Espinoza’s victories with La Nez in the $100,000 John Deere California Cup Distaff and Swiss Wild Cat in the $75,000 Robert H. Walter California Cup Juvenile Fillies moved him into a tie with Corey Nakatani as the all time winningest Cal Cup rider. Both have 17 stakes wins.
Named to ride in two of the Saturday stakes, Nakatani was excused from his mounts. He was suffering from “flu like symptoms’’ according to Oak Tree/Hollywood Park steward Tom Ward.
Talamo, who was without a stakes success the first 20 days of the meet, won the $100,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint with favored Cost of Freedom and the $100,000 John C. Mabee California Cup Mile Presented by TVG with 8-5 choice Bruce’s Dream.
The young rider also won two maiden races to move into fourth place in the jockey standings with 17 victories.
Opting to stay home rather than try the Breeders’ Cup Sprint a week later at Churchill Downs, Cost of Freedom ran the fastest six furlongs of the meet while rolling to an easy victory in the Sprint.
The 7-year-old Cee’s Tizzy gelding out of the Moscow Ballet mare Freedom Dance quickly took charge from his inside post and was never threatened.
The victory margin was 6 ¼ lengths – most decisive in Sprint history – and Cost of Freedom completed the distance over Cushion Track in 1:08.58. This bettered the 1:08.63 recorded two days earlier by Square Deal.
Cost of Freedom has won nine of 19. The $60,000 payday increased his earnings to $752,263.
Five of the victories have come in 11 races since he was claimed for $50,000 by trainer John Sadler for owners Gary and Cecil Barber in July, 2008.
Sadler leads all trainers with three Sprint victories. The win was Talamo’s second in four years. He also won with Bilo in 2007.
Cost of Freedom paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10. Runaway Bandido, the longest shot in the field at 20-1, paid $9.20 and $4.20. A Lil Dumaani, who finished a head back in third and also owned by the Barbers, returned $2.80.
Owned by breeder Bruce Corwin and trained by Mike Puype, Bruce’s Dream had only one rival beat for most of the trip, but rallied strongly in the middle of the course to edge Colgan’s Chip by a neck in the Mile.
The victory was the sixth in eight outings for Bruce’s Dream, a 4-year-old Atticus gelding out of the Smokester mare Remember Dorothy. The final time was 1:34.37.
Bruce’s Dream, who has earned $293,940, paid $5.20, $3 and $2.20. Colgan’s Chip, who was defeated by a head by Bruce’s Dream in their last encounter in the California Dreamin Handicap July 25 at Del Mar, returned $3 and $2.40. Oak Tree Mile upsetter Liberian Freighter was a distant third. He paid $2.60 to show while finishing 4 ½ lengths behind Colgan’s Chip.
Making her first sprint start on turf, La Nez responded with a 1 ¾ length victory in the Distaff.
Owned by Class Racing Stable and and trained by Eric Kruljac, the Storm Creek filly out of the Iz a Saros mare Iza Bay stalked the pace from the outside, then drew clear in the final eighth of a mile. She is the fourth 3-year-old to win the Distaff, joining Miss L Attack (1993), Tempting Date (2005) and River’s Prayer (2006).
This was the second Cal Cup victory for La Nez. She won the 2009 Juvenile Fillies.
Winning for the fourth time in 12 starts, La Nez padded her bankroll to $321,000. She ran the six furlongs in 1:09.47 over a course labeled good.
The 3-1 second choice, La Nez paid $8, $4.40 and $2.80. Perfect Vintage paid $8.40 and $4.20. The show price on 7-5 favorite U R All That I Am was $2.40. She finished a half-length behind Perfect Vintage.
Owned by breeder Heinz Steinmann and trained by Mike Harrington, Swiss Wild Cat, stymied in tight along the rail throughout most of the stretch run, finally found a seam and was able to edge favored California Nectar by a nose in the Juvenile Fillies.
Making her first start beyond seven furlongs, the 2-year-old Ministers Wild Cat filly out of the Swiss Yodeler mare I Can Yodele won by a nose as the 4-1 third choice. She ran the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:45.49.
The win was Swiss Wild Cat’s third in 10 tries and she’s earned $189,552. She paid $10.60, $4.40 and $2.80. California Nectar, who was 11-10, paid $3 and $2.40. Warren’s Flyer was a head back in third. The show price on Warren’s Flyer, who had a clear lead in the stretch, was $2.20.
Ultra Blend provided trainer Art Sherman with his first Cal Cup victory, outfinishing favored Lady Railrider by a half-length in the Matron.
A 4-year-old daughter of Richly Blended and the Desert Classic mare Ankha, Ultra Blend won for the sixth time in 16 starts and increased her earnings to $327,246 for owner Nels Erickson.
Now 5-for-9 over synthetic surfaces, Ultra Blend, the 2-1 second choice, ran the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:43.06. She paid $6.80, $3.20 and $2.80.
Lady Railrider, seeking to become the second repeater in Matron history – Dream of Summer won in 2004 and 2005 – returned $2.80 and $2.20 as the 17-10 choice. She finished 3 ¼ lengths in front of 7-1 shot Warren’s Jitterbug. The latter’s show payoff was $3.60.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time for closing day of the inaugural Oak Tree/Hollywood Park meet is 1 p.m.
The feature attraction is the $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap. Turning Top, runner-up behind Hibaayeb in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes Oct. 2, is the morning line favorite in the Grade III for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
There is also an Oak Tree hooded sweatshirt giveaway. The item is available per paid admission while supplies last.
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