Weight assignments have been issued for the Grade II, $250,000 Citation Handicap, which will be run Friday, Nov. 29 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The race at 1 1/16 miles kicks off the annual Turf Festival, which culminates Sunday with a pair of Grade I events – the $250,000 Hollywood Derby and $250,000 Matriarch.
Za Approval and Indy Point were handed top imposts at 123 and 122 pounds, respectively, but the expected starting co-highweights are B. J. Wright, La Penta et al’s Jeronimo and Hronis Racing’s Vagabond Shoes. Both were assigned 120 pounds.
Trained by Mike Pender, Jeranimo is no stranger to Betfair Hollywood Park, having captured the 2011 Citation as well as the Grade I Shoemaker Mile in 2012. The 7-year-old hasn’t slowed down with age, winning the Grade I Eddie Read this summer at Del Mar.
An Irish-bred, Vagabond Shoes was second, 1 1-2 lengths behind Jeranimo in the Eddie Read and is just now finding his best stride for John Sadler. The trainer also is considering starting Cicero Farms’ He Be Fire N Ice (118), 4-for-9 this year and runner-up in a pair of Grade II races.
Pegged at 119 pounds is Wertheimer and Frere’s Silentio, fresh from a sharp third to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile. The 4-year-old would be making his first start at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Heerensperger and Nelson’s Winning Prize, also at 119, could be a rising star for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale. A multiple Grade I winner in his native Argentina, Winning Prize flirted with the track record at Del Mar, winning his U.S. debut by four lengths in a sparkling 1:32 4/5.
Others eyeing the Citation are Waterford Stable’s Summer Front (trainer Christope Clemente, 118) Currin and Eisman’s My Best Brother (Julio Canani, 116), Devereaux and Gross’ Big Bane Theory (Carla Gaines, 115), and William Marks’ Bio Pro (Howard Zucker, 115).
Headley, Molasky and Molasky’s Cyclometer, Double JH Stable et al’s Mobilized and Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams’ Rousing Sermon head the list of probables for the On Trust Handicap, which will be run for the 29th time Sunday, Nov. 24 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The 7 1-2 furlong Cushion Track contest is restricted to 3-year-olds and up either sired or bred in California.
Cyclometer, a 5-year-old son of Cyclotron, was an eye-catching winner on opening day of the Autumn meet (Nov. 7), completing 6 ½ furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:15 71. Hall of Famer Mike Smith has the call for trainer and part owner-breeder Bruce Headley.
Mobilized, from the Gary Mandella barn, ran the race of his life at the On Trust distance in winning the 2012 Tiznow Stakes. Though winless this year, the Soul of the Matter veteran has trained well of late and will be reunited with Corey Nakatani.
Rousing Sermon represents the barn of Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer and will be partnered by leading rider Rafael Bejarano. The 4-year-old son of Pulpit just missed in the Big Bear Stakes Oct. 31 at Santa Anita.
Darley Stable’s Arethusa, who broke her maiden with an easy victory in Saturday’s Sharp Cat Stakes, emerged from the win “super” according to trainer Eoin Harty.
Harty indicated the long-striding daughter of A.P. Indy will be supplemented to the Grade I, $500,000-guaranteed Hollywood Starlet at 1 1-16 miles on Cushion Track Saturday, Dec. 7.
Be Proud, second in the Sharp Cat, also returned well, according to Mike Marlow, assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Marlow said that Georgia, a disappointing fifth, scoped clean after the race and probably “just threw in a bad race.”
Jungle Racing, Hollendorfer et al’s Shared Belief, who established himself as one of the premier 2-year-olds in training with a smashing victory in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes Nov. 10, worked a half mile Sunday morning for Jerry Hollendorfer.
The gelded son of Candy Ride was timed in :50 4/5, a move that assistant Dan Ward called “nice and easy.”
“He’s so easy to train,” added Ward. “He worked by himself this morning. If we want more speed from him, we’ll work him in company.”
Shared Belief’s next major goal is the Grade I, $750,000-guaranteed CashCall Futurity at 1 1-16 miles over Cushion Track Saturday, Dec. 14.
Edwin Maldonado was expected back in the saddle Sunday following an incident at the starting gate in Saturday’s fourth race at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Maldonado, aboard the appropriately named Crushed It, hit the side of the gate at the start, injuring his right foot. He booked off the rest of his mounts.
“I didn’t know what happened until I got back to the jock’s room,” said Maldonado. “I tore the entire nail off the small toe on my right foot. There was a lot of blood. It’s wrapped up tight and I sprayed some stuff on to numb it. I’m good to go.”
CLOSING STRIDES —Pedigree buffs probably had a good day Saturday when Top Fortitude won his debut in the seventh race. The Arizona-bred son of Top Hit and French Deputy has a boatload of black type in his bloodlines. The Kory Owens trainee is a full brother to stakes winner French Hit, double stakes winner Top Debutante and three-time stakes winner Uh Oh Bango. Furthermore, Top Fortitude is a half-brother to seven-time stakes winner E Z Dreamer. He paid $19 to win under Kayla Stra. The Owens-Stra connection has produced six victories from 20 starters with a $4.02 return on investment ($4.02 for every $2 wagered on all 20 runners). Another pedigree play didn’t pan out so well in the same race. Pimpernel, a $525,000 Elusive Quality colt, finished fourth as the odds-on favorite. Trained by Bob Baffert, Pimpernel is out of 25-time stakes winner Xtra Heat. Xtra Heat’s only stakes defeat came at the hands of Squirtle Squirt in the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Squirtle Squirt gave legendary trainer Bobby Frankel his first Breeders’ Cup victory. Incidentally, Saturday marked the four-year anniversary of Frankel’s death……….Out of the 595 contestants who remain alive in the $2,500 winner-take-all Show Me the Money contest, 35 have selected four straight winners. A third-place or better finish is all that is necessary to continue in the popular contest.
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