Saturday, December 06, 2008


IRISH DUO BACK TO TAKE A SHOT WITH WINCHESTER IN TURF CUP


INGLEWOOD, Calif. (Dec. 4, 2008) — The Irish tandem of trainer Dermot Weld and jockey Patrick Smullen, who combined to win The Matriarch here four years ago with Dress to Thrill, have returned to Hollywood Park and have their sights set on Saturday’s $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup.

Winchester, winner of the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park while making his North American debut in August, will try to rebound in the Grade I Turf Cup following a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in October.


The 3-year-old son of Theatrical, who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf when it was run at Hollywood Park in 1987, was held out of last week’s Hollywood Derby to run in the 1 ½-mile Turf Cup.

“I think he looks better than he did before the Breeders’ Cup,” Weld said. “He has enjoyed his time here. The weather has been good. He’s thriving. It was a hard call deciding whether to run him here or in the Hollywood Derby last week. I just decided this race gave him a little more time to get over a tough race in the Breeders’ Cup. He has just begun to blossom in the last week or ten days.”

Weld has been very successful at Hollywood Park, also sending out Dimitrova to win the 2003 American Oaks and Grey Swallow to win the 2006 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap.

“Hollywood Park has been a very lucky track for us,” he said.

Winchester, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, has won two of seven starts for earnings of $294,029. He will break from the three-post in a field of nine in the 27th running of the Turf Cup, which lines up as follows from the rail out:

Church Service, with Rafael Bejarano up, carries 126 pounds; Summer Survivor, Jon Court, 126; Winchester, Smullen, 122; Champs Elysees, Julien Leparoux, 126; Obrigado, Joel Rosario, 126; Mr. Chairman, Michael Baze, 126; High Heel Sneakers, Tyler Baze, 123; Black Mamba, Mike Smith, 123, and Rush Rush, Victor Espinoza, 126.

Champs Elysees also made his most recent start in the Breeders’ Cup, finishing eighth in the Classic. Winner of the Northern Dancer on turf two starts back at Woodbine, the 5-year-old finished second in the 2007 Turf Cup while making his North American debut. The Bobby Frankel-trained Great Britain-bred enters the Turf Cup with four wins in 20 starts and earnings of $1,204,761.

Church Service also ran in the Breeders’ Cup, although on Santa Anita Park’s synthetic surface, finishing second in the Marathon.

Two 5-year-old mares — New Zealand-bred Black Mamba and Great Britain-bred High Heel Sneakers — will try to join Miss Alleged (1991) as the only females to win the Turf Cup. Black Mamba won the Beverly Hills here in June and is four for 22 lifetime with earnings of $647,171. High Heel Sneakers won the Hermosa Beach Handicap at the Turf Cup distance here Nov. 9.

Obrigado won the 2007 San Luis Obispo at 1 ½ miles at Santa Anita, but has failed to win in nine subsequent starts, finishing third most recently in a nine-furlong allowance race here behind Dilemma and fellow Turf Cup entrant Rush Rush.

Spring House, meanwhile, the 2008 San Luis Obispo winner, will shift surfaces Saturday and run on Cushion Track in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap. He is the second high weight at 118 pounds for the Grade III event, which owner R.D. Hubbard won in 1996 when Gentlemen cruised to a nine-length victory in track record time.

Spring House, trained by Julio Canani, finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in his most recent start. Winner of the Del Mar Handicap three starts back, the 6-year-old gelding has won seven of 35 starts for earnings of $733,284.

The field for the Grade III Native Diver, which will be contested at 1 1/8 miles, lines up as follows:

Slew’s Tizzy, Rosario up, carries 115 pounds; Barber, Pedro Arambula, 114; Spring House, Leparoux, 118; Past the Point, Bejarano, 117; Racketeer, Chantal Sutherland, 112; Galantas, Espinoza, 117; Ball Four, Smith, 119, and Zappa, Tyler Baze, 116.

The Native Diver will run as the sixth race and the Turf Cup as the eighth on Saturday’s nine-race program at Hollywood Park. First post time is 12:30 p.m.


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