Internationally renowned trainer Dermot Weld from Ireland saw Rare Ransom draw post five in a field of 14 Thursday during a Beverly Hills luncheon for the $700,000, Grade I American Oaks at 1 ¼ miles on the Hollywood Park turf Sunday.
Weld hoped that Rare Ransom fares as well as another Irish invader, Dimitrova, did when she won the race in 2003.
“She compares very favorably with Dimitrova,” said Weld. “She comes off a fourth-place finish in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Dimitrova finished third in the same race.”
Rare Ransom, an English-bred daughter of Oasis Dream, has won two of seven starts in Ireland and will be ridden by Patrick Smullen.
“I’ve been very lucky at Hollywood Park, and hope that continues,” said Weld. In addition to Dimitrova, Weld won the 2002 Matriarch with Dress To Thrill and the 2006 Jim Murray Handicap with Grey Swallow.
“She’s an adaptable filly and she shipped well,” said Weld. “She’s matured well from 2 to 3, and I think the best is yet to come with this filly.”
While Weld has become an old hand at this race, veteran international jockey Glen Boss was excited about his first ride in the United States aboard New Zealand invitee Puttanesca.
“I started riding in 1987 and have ridden in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Dubai and England,” said Boss. “This is my first time in the U.S. It’s been like a dream of mine.
“The owner asked me to ride the filly,” explained Boss of the request he readily accepted from owner Wong Kwan of Hong Kong. “I saw her when she won a Group II in New Zealand and was aboard her this morning. If she breaks clean and gets position, this is the perfect distance for her.”
Puttanesca drew post six. Chris McAnulty, racing manager for Kwan, said he worked in sales at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky last summer and purchased the filly earlier this year. “I think it is to her advantage to be four (a half-year older than her Northern Hemisphere rivals) and to have won a decent race at 2,000 meters,” said McAnulty. “She will stay here with Julio Canani and finish her career here.” Wayne Hillis has trained her throughout her career.
Another excited American Oaks newcomer was Tim Hamm, who trains and co-owns Afternoon Stroll and attended the draw with breeders and co-owners Rick and Claudia Claypool of Paris, Ky.
“I have been training about 15 years and have about 80 horses,” said Hamm a native of Youngstown, Ohio, who has trained Afternoon Stroll at Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania, one of several eastern sites where he trains.
“This is the first California starter that I train although I was part owner of Too Much Bling,” said Hamm of a colt that won several stakes for Bob Baffert, including the Grade II San Vicente.
“We were on the bubble and decided to come out a week ago,” said Hamm. “Hollywood made the decision easy.”
The Claypools entered their first horse in California and drew post ten. “After she was weaned, she was in a field with six or seven others and stood out. She had a little presence about her,” said Rick Claypool of Afternoon Stroll.
“After Tim got her broke and pointed to a race, he called and said, ’It looks like this one can run a little bit,’ the kind of news an owner always likes to hear,” said Claypool.
“She showed ability from early on and has progressed throughout her career, and hopefully that will continue,” said Hamm. “I got to take her out on the turf this morning, and she handled it great.”
Trainer Neil Drysdale said that celebrity chef Bobby Flay, who owns Mrs Kipling, would probably be here to see the Senorita Stakes winner. She drew the outside post.
Mast Track, upset winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup last year, heads a list of 20 nominees for the $700,000, Grade I handicap at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion Track July 11.
The 5-year-old horse, ridden by Tyler Baze for trainer Bobby Frankel, is winless in five starts since that race but has trained well at Santa Anita in recent weeks.
Other leading nominees include Californian Stakes winner Informed, Californian runners-up Rail Trip, Dakota Phone and Song of Navarone, Eastern invaders Parading from New York and Bullsbay from Maryland, 2008 Swaps Stakes winner Tres Borrachos and multiple stakes-winning filly Life Is Sweet.
Also nominated are Autism Awareness, Awesome Gem, Big Booster, Champs Elysees, Global Hunter, Magnum, Mr. Big, Plan, Richard’s Kid, Rising Moon and Wishful Tomcat.
Dakota Phone worked five furlongs in 1:02 Thursday for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
FINISH LINES – Rebellion, winner of the Ack Ack Handicap last year, arrived Wednesday from Kentucky for trainer Graham Motion and drew post five in a field of 14 in the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap, a Grade I test at seven furlongs Sunday…Artiste Royal, who seeks millionaire status with a victory in the $150,000 American Handicap Saturday, worked four furlongs on turf in :48.60 breezing for trainer Neil Drysdale …Affirmed Handicap winner Grazen worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 for trainer Mike Mitchell for the $300,000 Swaps Stakes for 3-year-olds July 18…Redondo Beach Stakes winner Tuscan Evening and Gamely Stakes runner-up Visit are prominent among 18 nominees for the $250,000 Royal Heroine Mile for fillies and mares on turf July 11…Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes winner Classical Slew tops a list of 12 2-year-olds nominated to the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship July 12…Cinderella Stakes winner Well Deserved heads a lineup of 12 fillies nominated to the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-olds July 12.
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