Handicappers trying to decipher Emollient’s form in Saturday’s Grade I, $350,000 American Oaks can take comfort in knowing they’re in the same boat as Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
The daughter of Empire Maker started 2013 well enough with an allowance victory on a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park Feb. 16. She was sent off at 5-2 six weeks later in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks but finished fifth, 30 lengths behind runaway winner Dreaming of Julia.
“There was no explanation for the way she ran that day,” said Mott, whose Grade I victories at Betfair Hollywood Park include the 1995 Hollywood Gold Cup with Cigar.
Emollient redeemed herself just seven days later on Polytrack in the Grade I Ashland at Keeneland. Taking command immediately, Emollient widened on her opposition, ultimately winning by nine lengths.
“She really shined on the synthetic.” said Mott. “After that race, I was a little skeptical about running her back on dirt, but with all the big races coming up, we had to find out where we stood.”
Mott’s skepticism was well founded. Sent to Pimlico for the Grade II Black Eyed Susan May 17, Emollient faded after a half mile and finished 21 lengths behind Fiftyshadesofhay as the odds-on favorite.
“She stumbled in the race, but recovered,” stated Mott. “I can’t use that as an excuse.”
Even though Emollient is a Grade I winner and tops the field with $446,900 in earnings, Mott said he’s still in the fact finding stage with the 3-year-old filly.
“She ran so well on the synthetic, we’re hoping there’s a correlation between synthetic and turf,” said Mott. “Het two turf works at Belmont Park were very good.”
Emollient drew post position three in the field of eight and once again will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who won the 2012 American Oaks with Lady of Shamrock.
FOUR STAKES, PICK 6 BONUS, SEMINARS HIGHLIGHT SATURDAY
The Grade I, $350,000 American Oaks at 1 1-4 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies heads a slate of four outstanding stakes races at Betfair Hollywood Park Saturday.
The Oaks is carded as the ninth of 10 races. Taking on such local stars as Grade II Honeymoon Handicap winner Sarach and Grade III Providencia Stakes winner Scarlet Strike will be well-connected eastern invaders Emollient and Emotional Kitten.
Emollient won the Grade I Ashland at Keeneland by nine lengths April 6, stamping her as one of the top sophomore fillies in the nation. Emotional Kitten took the $100,000 Hilltop May 17 at Pimlico, giving her three wins in her last four starts. Emollient is trained by Bill Mott and will be ridden by Mike Smith, both Hall of Famers. Emotional Kitten is conditioned by Wesley Ward and carries the colors of nationally well-known owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
A race before the Oaks will be the Grade II, $200,000 A Gleam Handicap for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs over Cushion Track.
The A Gleam is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race, with the winner receiving a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, which will be run Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
The A Gleam has attracted Grade I winners Book Review and Byrama. The mare to beat, however, may be the Ron Ellis-trained Teddy’s Promise, a five-time winner on Cushion Track who had nightmarish trip when third as the odds-on choice in the Desert Stormer Handicap June 16.
The local 2-year-old championships will be decided Saturday in the Grade III, $150,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and the $150,000 Landaluce Stakes for fillies. The Hollywood Juvenile, to be run as the fourth race, and the Landaluce, carded as the second, are both at six furlongs.
On the final Hollywood Insider of the Spring/Summer meeting, Steve Andersen of Daily Racing Form will be the guest of host Gino Buccola of Television Games Network (TVG). Anderson and Buccola will offer handicapping tips on the four stakes races, insights and other last minute information. The Hollywood Insider will begin at 12 Noon at the Paddock Tote Board.
A half-hour earlier, also at the Paddock Tote Board, trainer Jorge Gutierrez will be the guest of co-hosts Michael Burns and George Ortuzar at the last Escogiendo Ganadores (Picking Winners) session of the Spring/Summer meet.
During the Spanish-language seminar, Gutierrez, one of the more consistent conditioners on the Southern California circuit, Burns and Ortuzar will discuss the trainer’s career, as well as the Betfair Hollywood Park card.
Saturday will be the final Pick 6 Saturday – with a guaranteed pool of $150,000 – of the season.
If the Pick Six pool exceeds $200,000, there will be $1 Happy Hour food and drink specials offered at Whittingham’s Pub and the Betfair Players’ Lounge.
A single winning ticket – purchased either at Betfair Hollywood Park or through TVG earns a bonus – a 2013 Toyota Prius courtesy of Toyota of Orange.
To celebrate the big day, race fans can take home a free commemorative poster celebrating 75 years of racing at Betfair Hollywood Park. The posters are available one per paid admission while
JOCKEY RACE UPDATE
With four days remaining in the Spring/Summer meeting, Joe Talamo leads Rafael Bejarano 50-46.
Talamo rides five Thursday; Bay Rush (5-2) in the first, Skyspy (5-1) in the second, Proven Warrior (9-5) in the sixth, Unusual Lover (6-1) in the seventh, and Swiss Sugar (8-1) in the eighth.
Bejarano’s mounts are Beer Meister (8-5) in the first, Run’n On Residuals (5-2) in the second, Blue Tone (9-5) in the fourth, Queen Mercury (4-1) in the fifth, and Toledo Eddie (6-1) in the seventh.
Each jockey has a total of nine scheduled rides Friday and Saturday.
Edwin Maldonado is third in the standings with 43 winners, but will need some luck with time running out. Maldonado will pilot 15 horses over the next three days.
CLOSING STRIDES—Trainer Marty Jones revealed that Unzip Me, a multiple stakes winner he trained for Harris Farms, Inc., Pers Antonsen and Don Valpredo, is in foal to Kitten’s Joy……..A top prospect to watch in Saturday’s Landaluce Stakes is She’s a Tiger. The half-sister to Grade I winner Smiling Tiger broke into the game with a nine-length victory June 22 at Pleasanton. Frank Alvarado, who was aboard for trainer Jeff Bonde, flew down to Betfair Hollywood Park to work the Tale of the Cat filly five furlongs in 59 July 6. Bonde also trained Smiling Tiger……….Trainer Julio Canani confirmed that Gagaoveryou, entered in a maiden special weight turf sprint Friday, will instead go in Saturday’s Landaluce Stakes……In case you missed it, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) last week announced that Betfair Hollywood Park has earned re-accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. The re-accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility.