Friday, October 03, 2008
FILLY ROMANCE IS DIANE SET AS 5-2 FAVORITE IN CAL CUP CLASSIC
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 2, 2008) – Four-year-old filly Romance Is Diane, a Grade I stakes winner, was established as the 5-2 favorite among eight entrants in Sunday’s $250,000 California Cup Classic presented by City National Bank, the 1 1/8 miles centerpiece of Oak Tree’s Cal Cup XIX Day, comprised of 10 stakes races exclusively for California-breds at Santa Anita.
Classic defending champion Bold Chieftain, meanwhile, was entered in the $175,000 John C. Mabee Mile on turf with trainer William Morey Jr. explaining that a grass surface presently seems more agreeable to the 5-year-old bay, a winner of three of his four most recent starts on turf.
“If she wasn’t at the top of her game, I wouldn’t have put her in this race,” said trainer Mike Mitchell, who had also been considering the $150,000 TOC/CTT Cal Cup Matron at 1 1/16 miles, an event Romance Is Diane won by 6 ¼ lengths last year.
“It was pretty much my decision,” Mitchell said, “and was largely based on who was going in which race. I think she fits in the Classic and the distance won’t be a problem. If she wins this race, it should really help her in the sale. For her, it’s simply time. Besides, we’re tired of looking at Zenyatta’s hind end.”
The daughter of In Excess had chased unbeaten superstar Zenyatta in three of her last four starts, all Grade II open events, after winning the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park last December. As a 2-year-old, Romance Is Diane captured the Grade I Hollywood Starlet.
She has twice competed in the Cal Cup, winning the Juvenile Fillies by 1 ¾ lengths in 2006 before the Matron last year, each time at odds of 5-1. Romance Is Diane will take earnings of $662,718, along with a 5-1-3 mark in 15 starts, into her final race.
The complete field for the Cal Cup Classic, with jockeys, weights and odds in post position order: Add Heat, Alex Solis, 116, 7-2; South Coast, Joseph Talamo, 114, 12-1; Top This and That, Garrett Gomez, 114, 6-1; Mr. Chairman, Michael Baze, 115, 3-1; Romance Is Diane, Rafael Bejarano, 115, 5-2; Top Emblem, Aaron Gryder, 113, 10-1; One Chin Again, Joel Rosario, 111, 15-1, and Cheroot, Martin Pedroza, 115, 6-1.
Mr. Chairman, who has hit the board in his last eight starts for trainer Doug O’Neill, was made the 3-1 second choice by Oak Tree oddsmaker Jeff Tufts. South Coast, pegged at 7-2, has been first or second in five of his last six starts, and Cheroot, at 6-1, will be racing in this fourth straight Cal Cup Classic.
A 7-year-old son of Smokester trained by Darrell Vienna for Charlotte Wrather, Cheroot ran third to McCann’s Mojave in 2005; second to Texcess in 2006, and seventh to Bold Chieftain last year. Cheroot’s earnings, $506,201 resulting from a 7-3-8 record in 32 starts, are the field’s second highest behind Romance Is Diane.
The Classic will be the tenth race on an 11-race program that commences at 12 noon. Oak Tree is offering a Cal Cup wrist watch giveaway with both men’s and ladies’ styles.
Bold Chieftain heads a field of eight in the Mile. The 5-year-old Chief Seattle offspring has won 11 of 21 starts while earning $793,327. Russell Baze rides the horse owned by a partnership who seems to have developed an affinity for grass the last couple years. His record on grass is 5-2-0 in seven starts. Bold Chieftain was assigned high weight of 123 pounds for Sunday’s event.
The complete field for the Mile, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Liberian Freighter, David Flores, 118; Warrens A P Strike, Garrett Gomez, 109; Bold Chieftain, Russell Baze, 123; Comoros, Mike Smith, 116; Pass the Heat, Frank Alvarado, 120; Unusual Suspect, Joel Rosario, 117; Swift Winds, Alonso Quinonez, 116, and Epic Power, Martin Garcia, 119.
Lightmyfirebaby and America’s Friend top the contention among 14 entrants in the $150,000 John Deere Distaff at 6 ½ furlongs on turf. Johnny Eves, winner of Santa Anita’s Grade I Malibu Stakes last December, appears to be the class of ten runners in the $150,000 Donald Valpredo Sprint at six furlongs.
Bai and Bai will seek her third straight stakes victory as the 121-pound high weight among six entrants in the $150,000 Matron at 1 1/16 miles. The field of 13 for the $125,000 Bob Benoit Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles will have Babs Moossa going for his fifth straight win following three stakes victories. The $125,000 Robert H. Walter Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles attracted eleven 2-year-olds including trainer Bob Baffert’s Ten Churros, a recent 2 ½-length winner of the Generous Portion Stakes at Del Mar.
Other events that round out the Cal Cup portion of the program are the $100,000 TVG Distance Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on turf; the $50,000 AM 570 KLAC Starter Allowance at 1 ½ miles on turf, and the $50,000 William T. Pascoe Starter Sprint Handicap at six furlongs.
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