Treat Gently, a 5-year-old mare who is a Grade II winner on two continents, will seek to become the second female to win the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, which will be run for the 28th time Saturday.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott confirmed from Kentucky Sunday that the Juddmonte Farms homebred will be flown to California Monday afternoon with assistant Leana Williford. Patrick Valenzuela has the call in the 1 ½-mile grass test.
“It’s a Grade I, and we wanted to give her an opportunity there,” explained Mott of the decision to target the Turf Cup. “A mile and a half is her trip.”
Treat Gently comes off a fourth-place finish against males in the Grade I Turf Classic at 12 furlongs on a yielding Belmont Park course October 2. Three-wide on both turns, she was beaten by 2 ¾ lengths and finished behind Winchester, Paddy O’Prado and Grassy.
Treat Gently began her career in France with Andre Fabre and won the Group II Prix de Mallaret at Saint-Cloud in 2008. She was shipped to the United States in 2009 and started twice for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel before his death last November.
The English-bred mare has been with Mott all year, during which time she won the Grade II Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont and the Grade III R.G. Dick Memorial Handicap at Delaware Park.
The only female to win the Hollywood Turf Cup was champion Miss Alleged as a 4-year-old for Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham and eight-time Turf Cup winner Chris McCarron in 1991.
Three other females finished second: Queen to Conquer in 1981, Zalataia in 1983 and Megahertz in 2004. In the 2008 running, females Black Mamba and High Heel Sneakers finished fourth and seventh, respectively.
Mott and Valenzuela share some history in the race with Fraise. The horse crossed the wire first in 1992 but was disqualified and placed second behind Bien Bien for interference. In 1993 Mott returned to send out Fraise to a record six-length victory under McCarron.
Juddmonte seeks its third Turf Cup victory. Prince Khalid Abdullah’s stable won previously with Alphabatim in 1986 and Champs Elysees in 2008.
A field of at least seven is shaping up: Treat Gently (Valenzuela), the Neil Drysdale-trained duo of Bourbon Bay (Rafael Bejarano) and Marlang (Joel Rosario), Temple City (Joe Talamo), Where’s The Remote (Mike Smith), Buenos Dias (Brice Blanc) and Unusual Suspect.
Possibles include Worth Repeating, Big Shot Syd and Allegre.
Bourbon Bay and Marlang both worked seven furlongs on turf Sunday under exercise rider Umberto Gomez. Marlang worked alone in 1:26.20 while Bourbon Bay was timed in 1:27.40 in company with Prince Rexy.
Hall of Famer Drysdale was happy with the way both of his runners are coming up the race at a distance over which both are proven.
Bourbon Bay is undefeated in three starts at 12 furlongs, including the Grade II San Luis Obispo and San Luis Rey Handicaps last winter. Marlang led all the way to win the Grade III Sunset Handicap over the Hollywood Park turf in July.
Temple City worked five furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:00.40, while Big Shot Syd was clocked in 1:00.80 for the same distance.
Dan Landers, assistant to trainer Ron McAnally, also looks forward to the 1 ½-mile distance for Buenos Dias, a distance at which he has won twice.
ZENYATTA, DAKOTA PHONE TOP BREEDERS’ CUP RETURNEES
The scene was quiet Sunday morning in Barn 55 South, where Zenyatta is expected to return Monday following a gallant second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs Saturday, her first setback during a magical 20-race career.
Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, whooped it up in Barn 70 South after an upset win by Dakota Phone in the Dirt Mile and a strong second-place finish by Blind Luck in the Ladies Classic.
“It was a one-turn mile that had a lot of sprinters with speed stretching out,” said Ward of Dakota Phone’s come-from-behind victory in a photo finish under Joel Rosario at 37-to-1 odds. “The long stretch also helped.”
Ward felt Blind Luck cemented the Eclipse Award for 3-year-old filly since the only horse she did not beat was an older one. Blind Luck had put herself in the driver’s seat for the championship with victories in the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes.
Zenyatta, Dakota Phone and Blind Luck were three of nine horses based at Hollywood Park to finish in the top three in their respective Breeders’ Cup races.
The others were: Champ Pegasus, 2nd in the Turf; Switch, 2nd in the Filly & Mare Sprint; Evening Jewel, third in the Filly & Mare Sprint; The Usual Q.T., third in the Mile; Unzip Me, third in the Turf Sprint; and Smiling Tiger, third in the Sprint.
“He was getting in touch with his inner Tin Man!” said Janeen Painter, exercise rider for trainer Richard Mandella, in praise of the game second-place finish by Champ Pegasus that reminded her of multiple stakes winner The Tin Man.
COURTSIDE ACTION $259.20 UPSET DELIGHTS DeLEON
Jockey Edwin Maldonado and Courtside Action, a 3-year-old gelding, are apparently a winning combination.
“The jockey listened to me,” said trainer and owner Rafael DeLeon Sunday after Courtside Action lit up the tote board with a $259.20 mutuel for a $2 win ticket in the nightcap Saturday, a maiden claimer at seven furlongs.
“The horse is lazy,” said DeLeon. “I told the jockey to send him and stay there. He needed a nice ride against an easy group.”
Courtside Action, a son of 2003 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile upset winner Action This Day, took a small drop from $35,000 maiden claiming company in his ninth start and first under Maldonado.
“He had a second and a third here this summer, so he showed he liked the track,” pointed out DeLeon. “And he worked a good three furlongs in 35 and three Monday with Martin Pedroza, who had another call in the race with (trainer Bob) Baffert.”
The $2 win payoff was the seventh-highest in the history of Hollywood Park and the highest in 19 years, when Uppie Duppie returned $345.80 on May 11, 1991. The record of $361.80 was set by Family Flair on June 29, 1989.
FINISH LINES— Late Cuddle worked five furlongs on turf in 1:01.20, and Lilly Fa Pootz covered six in 1:13.80, both under consideration for the $250,000 Matriarch November 26 for the Jerry Hollendorfer stable…Proudinsky, a 7-year-old German-bred horse who has been out since December, worked five furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:01.60 for trainer Humberto Ascanio for a possible fourth start in the $250,000 Citation Handicap on November 27. He finished third in 2007, fourth in 2008 and fourth in 2009…Liberian Freighter, another Citation possible, worked four furlongs on turf in a bullet 47.80…Goldwaki, a 3-year-old colt from France, has joined the Ron McAnally stable. “He arrived last night and gets out of quarantine tomorrow,” said assistant Dan Landers. German-bred Goldwaki won one of three starts and finished fourth in the Group I Grand Prix de Paris in July for trainer Andre Fabre. He was purchased privately by Richard Duchossois.
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