Mike Puype has been around long enough to understand the business side of horse racing.
That knowledge, however, doesn’t take away the sting from the departure of Turbulent Descent, who was sold for an undisclosed sum last Saturday. The trainer took time Tuesday to reflect on her career and how her absence will affect him.
“It’s a hard thing to have happen,” said Puype. “She’s been nothing but good for everyone involved with her from the moment she first came to my barn.”
Turbulent Descent, a 4-year-old daughter of Congrats and Roger’s Sue, was bred in Florida and purchased for $160,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sale in April, 2010. She had an 11 7-2-0 record for Puype, with earnings of $901,640. Three of her victories were Grade I’s and she’s been favored in all of her races.
The bay is 4-for-4 at Betfair Hollywood Park, including a victory in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet in 2010. She won her final start for Puype in the Desert Stormer Handicap June 17th. The filly is scheduled to be shipped to New York shortly, where she will be trained by Todd Pletcher.
“I knew it was coming to an end anyway,” Puype continued. “She was going to be sold after a few more races but the owners received an offer they couldn’t refuse and that’s what needed to be done. It came out of the blue. I didn’t know anything about it until Friday. They closed the deal quickly and that was it.”
It took the trainer only a millisecond to identify the Grade I Test in 2011 as her greatest victory.
“It’s not even close,’’ he said. “She was devastating in that race at Saratoga. She won with speed to spare. That was absolutely, positively her best race, without a doubt. She won some other races in hand and was 5-for-5 on synthetic tracks. Basically, I can’t say enough about her. I love her and it’s hard to see her go but, again, it’s a business.”
Puype’s compensation from the sale could be considerable, but the subject comes across as a secondary consideration.
“That’s all being worked out,” explained Puype. “I’m sure I’m not going to come up short. It’s just hard to lose her.”
SEVEN ENTER HOLYWOOD’S GOLD CUP; I’LL HAVE ANOTHER FAREWELL PARADE; O’NEILL, GUTIERREZ AUTOGRAPH SESSION
Saturday will be a busy day at Betfair Hollywood Park.
A field of seven was entered Wednesday for the Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at 1 1-4 miles on Cushion Track. The Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race. The winner receives an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic with pre-entry and entry fees waived, along with a $10,000 travel stipend.
Bob Baffert will saddle the two highweights, Game On Dude (124 pounds) and Richard’s Kid (120). Game on Dude is a multiple Grade I winner and cantered home by 7 1-4 lengths in the Grade II Californian June 2nd. He was beaten a nose by stablemate First Dude in this race last year. Chantal Sutherland, who was aboard the 5-year-old for his last four victories, will try to become the first female jockey to win the Gold Cup.
Richard’s Kid, who returned from a failed stay in Dubai with a smashing victory in the Prove It Stakes June 8th, will be trying for his fourth Grade I victory. The 7-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid was third to Awesome Gem in the 2010 Gold Cup.
An interesting sidenote is the entry of 4-year-old filly Love Theway Youare, who takes on males following an upset win in the Grade I Vanity June 16th.
Besides the Gold Cup, the card will also include the Grade II, $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile for fillies and mares at a mile on turf.
Saturday also will mark the final public appearance locally of I’ll Have Another, who will soon be shipped to begin his new career as a stallion. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will be paraded between races. His trainer and rider, Doug O’Neill and Mario Gutierrez, will hold an autograph session between 12-1 p.m. near the Paddock Tote Board.
There will also be a fedora giveaway—one per paid admission while supplies last—and a Gold Cup hat contest with a $500 first prize.
Assistant trainer Phil D’Amato visited Mike Mitchell Tuesday and reports the trainer is in fine spirits. Mitchell, who had an operation to remove a brain tumor Friday, was released from the hospital Monday.
“You wouldn’t have known he’d had any kind of operation, let alone brain surgery,” said D’Amato. “He was cracking jokes and was as sharp as ever. We went over every horse in the barn and planned out their schedules. Right now, he’s planning to come out (to Betfair Hollywood Park) to watch some horses breeze this weekend.”
Mitchell is still awaiting results of a biopsy on the tumor.
BAFFERT AND BEJARANO CONTINUE TO DOMINATE STANDINGS
Entering Wednesday’s card, Bob Baffert and Rafael Bejarano have built up insurmountable leads in the trainer and jockey standings.
The pair combined to win with Night Tide Sunday and will team up again with Richard’s Kid in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Entering Wednesday, Baffert has 28 victories from 76 starters, a 36.8 win percentage. The Hall of Famer has finished in the money 54 times, or 71 per cent. He leads second-place John Sadler by 10 winners and third-place Mike Mitchell by 16. He also tops all trainers with eight stakes victories.
Bejarano has been even more dominant. The Peruvian native, who turned 30 June 23, has a lopsided 61-37 advantage over second place Joe Talamo. From 206 mounts, he has a 61-37-28 record. That’s a 29.6 win percentage and 61.6 per cent in the money. He went 18 consecutive racing days (May 26-June 29) with at least one victory. Bejarano also has a meet high 12 stakes victories during the Spring/Summer meet, which will conclude Sunday, July 15.
BENEFIT FOR OMAR BERRIO SET FOR JULY 8
A dinner/dance to benefit jockey Omar Berrio will be held Sunday, July 8 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The Turf Club event, which will be hosted by Betfair Hollywood Park, the local jockey colony and the Southern California Race Track Chaplaincy, will take place after the day’s races are over.
Berrio, a rider on this circuit for more than 20 years, suffered his second stroke May 11. A native of Panama City, Panama who won his initial race April 13, 1990 at Santa Anita, Berrio, 43, was first stricken in December, 2010.
A $100 donation allows fans to enjoy a buffet dinner and meet members of the Southern California jockey community, including Rafael Bejarano, Victor Espinoza, David Flores and Joe Talamo.
For more information and to purchase tickets, call Betfair Hollywood Park’s Group Events Department at 310-419-1529.
CLOSING STRIDES—Harris David Auerbach, managing partner of the Unusual Heat syndicate, pointed out that after the withdrawal of Baron Von Red from today’s sixth race at Betfair Hollywood Park, the six remaining entrants are either sons or grandsons of Unusual Heat…. Chantal Sutherland, regular rider of Gold Cup favorite Game On Dude, will be Kurt Hoover’s special guest Saturday on the Inside Scoop, a free handicapping seminar which begins at 12 Noon at the Paddock Tote Board…….Dance Thewayyouare, a half-sister to Gold Cup hopeful Love Theway Youare, finished second Sunday in a maiden race and was claimed for $30,000 by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer ……Sizzling Gold, the leading candidate for claimer of the meeting, joined Valkyrie Missile as the only three-time winner during the Spring/Summer meet with a victory in Sunday’s fifth race. Since being taken for $8,000 by trainer George Lopez Feb. 12, the 5-year-old mare has won four of six starts and earned more than $115,000…. Corey Nakatani has been named to ride Irish bred Nayarra in the Grade I $400,000 American Oaks July 14th. Other Europeans confirmed for the race are Team Valor et al’s Italian Oaks runnerup Angegreen * and Miss Cato, second in the Ballymacoll Stakes at Newbury in her only start….. *Iration will be performing in the penultimate Friday Night Live Concert Series July 6th. The concert begins shortly after the final race – approximately 10:30 p.m – at the North Park. Admission is $10 prior to 8:30 – $20 after.
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