Unusual Suspect, a starter in the California Cup Mile the past three years, will try the California Cup Classic Presented by City National Bank on October 30 at Hollywood Park, trainer and co-owner Barry Abrams said Thursday.
“He beat Richard’s Kid twice on synthetics and I think a mile and an eighth is a better distance for him,” said Abrams of the decision to try him in the nine furlong test on Cushion Track. The Maryland-bred Richard’s Kid won the Pacific Classic the last two years and the Goodwood Stakes in his last start, all Grade I’s.
Unusual Suspect, a versatile and durable son of Unusual Heat, has won stakes ranging from six furlongs on turf to 1 ½ miles on synthetic. He has started 53 times, with eight wins, seven seconds and six thirds and earnings of $855,171.
Unusual Suspect won the Cal Cup Mile on grass in 2007, finished fifth in the race in 2008 and sixth in 2009. He is winless in 15 starts since capturing the Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar in August, 2009, but has placed several times in graded stakes.
The $150,000 Classic headlines the 21st running of the California Cup, a program of stakes restricted to California-bred or sired thoroughbreds. Other major stakes are the $100,000 John C. Mabee Mile Presented by TVG, Sprint, CTT/TOC Matron and Distaff, and the $75,000 Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies.
Other probable starters in the Classic include Alphie’s Bet, Cee’s Pryme, Low Gear Power and Soul Candy.
Probable for the Mile are Bruce’s Dream, Colgan’s Chip, Enriched, Jiggly, Liberian Freighter and Swift Winds, although Colgan’s Chip and Enriched are cross-entered in the Classic.
Trainer Jim Cassidy said that defending Mile champion The Usual Q.T. would be shipped to Kentucky on October 31 to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 6. Evening Jewel, another California-bred multiple stakes winner in the Cassidy barn, will run in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint the previous day.
Cassidy will have one Cal Cup entrant, I Can Hear in the Distaff.
Trainer John Sadler said a decision will be made Monday on whether Grade I stakes winner Cost of Freedom will remain here for the Sprint or ship to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Defending champion Lady Railrider is expected to compete in the Matron.
Gab Power, Luckarack, Shane Daniel, Slammer Time, Woodmans Luck and Lucky Mr. K are early probables for the Juvenile. Lucky Mr. K worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 Thursday for the Jeff Bonde stable.
Superstar mare Zenyatta galloped on the main track under exercise rider Steve Willard Thursday in preparation for her finale in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 6.
A crew from the long-running, weekly “60 Minutes” television show has been following the 6-year-old mare this week for a segment to air October 31. Zenyatta, who has been based at Hollywood Park with trainer John Shirreffs throughout her career, remained unbeaten in 19 starts with a victory in the Lady’s Secret Stakes over Cushion Track on October 2.
Zenyatta is scheduled for her next-to-last work for the Breeders’ Cup Friday. She will be shipped to Kentucky on November 2.
Funeral services are scheduled Saturday for long-time jockey agent Bob Meldahl, who died Tuesday in his Arcadia home. He was 61.
Meldahl was best known as the agent for Hall of Famer Laffit Pincay, Jr., during the final decade of the rider’s career during which time he surpassed Bill Shoemaker as the leader in career victories with No. 8,834 on December 10, 1999 at Hollywood Park.
Meldahl broke into the business in 1980 and also handled the books of such riders as Ken Jones, Chad Schvaneveldt, Brian Long, Rafael Meza, Frank Olivares, Corey Nakatani, Corey Black, Mike Smith, David Flores, Isaias Enriquez and Rene Douglas.
Meldahl remained on the track until June, 2009, when deteriorating health conditions related to diabetes forced him into a five-month hospital stay.
“He was released from the hospital before Thanksgiving and never really recovered,” said Meldahl’s widow, Janis. “He was in peace when his heart gave out.”
A memorial service is scheduled Saturday at 10 a.m. in Santa Anita Church on Colorado Blvd. in Arcadia, followed by burial in Live Oaks Memorial Park on Duarte Road in Monrovia.
“We would have been married 34 years Saturday,” said his widow.
Meldahl is also survived by a 26-year-old daughter, Nicole; his mother, Betty Formisano; and a brother, Tony Formisano.
Meldahl was born in Long Beach, graduated from Arcadia High School and attended Pasadena City College, where he played baseball.
A quartet of aspirants for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs on November 5-6 worked over Cushion Track Thursday at Hollywood Park.
Norfolk Stakes winner Jaycito worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 for trainer Mike Mitchell prepping for the Juvenile, while defending champion Dancing in Silks drilled the same distance in 1:13.20 for Carla Gaines for the Sprint.
Ancient Title Stakes winner Smiling Tiger worked four furlongs in a bullet 46.40 for conditioner Jeff Bonde, also for the Sprint. Unzip Me, winner of the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap, was timed in 1:05.80 for five furlongs for Marty Jones for the Turf Sprint.
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