The CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park has long been a leading barometer for future stardom, including success in the Kentucky Derby.
But never has it played as major a role in morning-line favorites for the Derby, to be run at Churchill Downs and simulcast here Saturday, as this year. Pioneerof the Nile, I Want Revenge and Chocolate Candy, the 1-2-3 finishers respectively in the December Futurity, rank as three of the leading threats in the Run for the Roses.
Pioneerof the Nile went on to win three more stakes at Santa Anita, including the Santa Anita Derby. I Want Revenge shipped to New York and won the Gotham Stakes and Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Chocolate Candy won the California Derby and El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields and finished second in the Santa Anita Derby.
The trio and Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem are expected to form a powerful hand for California connections in the Derby. Pioneerof the Nile is trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert and will be ridden by Garrett Gomez. I Want Revenge is trained by Jeff Mullins and will be ridden by Joe Talamo. Chocolate Candy is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and will be ridden by Mike Smith. Papa Clem is trained by Gary Stute and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano.
Two other California horses probable in a field expected to number 20 are Square Eddie, trained by Doug O’Neill and to be ridden by Corey Nakatani; and Mr. Hot Stuff, trained by Eoin Harty.
There will be a special 11 a.m. first post here on Saturday as will be the case in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
POST TIME SCHEDULE CHANGES KENTUCKY DERBY WEEK
Hollywood Park will offer a Friday matinee this week and an 11 a.m. first live post Saturday for the simulcast of the Kentucky Derby.
Friday’s card will be the lone matinee at the 13-week Spring/Summer Meet. Post time is 1 p.m.
Gates will open at 7 a.m. both days as Hollywood Park will import the entire Kentucky Oaks program on Friday and the entire Derby Day program on Saturday. The first import from Churchill Downs is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. on both days.
DIAMOND DIVA SPARKLES FOR WILSHIRE DEFENSE
Diamond Diva, unraced since winning the $750,000 CashCall Mile here on July 5, will return to defend honors in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap Saturday, trainer Jim Cassidy said Sunday from Santa Anita. The Grade III Wilshire is for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
Cassidy gave the English-bred five-year-old mare the green light after a five-furlong work in 1:00 on Pro-Ride under exercise rider Luis Ortega. “She finished well, the last eighth in 10 and four,” said Cassidy.
Diamond Diva, who began her career in England before being purchased by Three Chimneys Racing of Kentucky, won the Wilshire in her second United States start before finishing second to Precious Kitten in the Grade I Gamely Stakes here and winning the CashCall Mile by a nose over Ventura.
“She hurt a suspensory in that race,” explained Cassidy of the layoff. “I stopped on her and gave her six months off. She’s gotten bigger and filled out well.”
Last year Cassidy said one of his biggest training challenges was getting Diamond Diva to relax. “When she returned to training, I thought she was relaxing too much,” said Cassidy. “But today I thought she went about as good as she has been.”
David Flores, who rode Diamond Diva to victories in the Wilshire and CashCall Mile in his only two rides on the mare, has the Wilshire call. Diamond Diva will try to join champion Gamely, who won the race in 1968 and 1969, as the only two-time winner of the Wilshire in its 48-year history.
Diamond Diva is expected to be joined in the Wilshire by the Paddy Gallagher-trained duo of Miss Singhsix (Alex Solis) and Kayd Kodaun (Jose Valdivia, Jr.), Belmont Cat (Joel Rosario), Charming Legacy (Tyler Baze), In My Glory (Martin Garcia) and Tizfiz (Agapito Delgadillo).
Irish-breds Miss Singhsix and Kayd Kodaun each worked five furlongs on turf here Sunday, the former clocked in 1:00.80 and the latter in 1:02.
New Zealand-bred Belmont Cat, winner of the Grade II Santa Ana Handicap in her last start at Santa Anita March 22, worked six furlongs on turf in 1:15.60 under Rosario for trainer John Sadler.
Gorgeous Goose, another nominee for the Wilshire, worked five furlongs on turf in a bullet :59.80 to the delight of trainer Mike Puype.
Trainer Barry Abrams said that Bel Air Sizzle, a non-threatening fifth as the favorite in the Fran’s Valentine Stakes Saturday, could return in the Wilshire.
PROVIDENCIA LEADERS SET FOR SENORITA REMATCH
Acting Lady, Mrs Kipling, Pasar Silbano and Burg Berg — the first four finishers in that order in the Grade II Providencia Stakes at one mile on the Santa Anita turf April 4 — are expected to meet again next Sunday in the $100,000 Senorita Stakes, a Grade III test for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
Acting Lady, a 20.80-to-1 longshot trained by Doug O’Neill, won the Providencia by a half-length over Mrs Kipling, an English import making her U.S. debut.
Pacesetter Pasar Silbano faded to third, one-half length in front of Burg Berg.
Acting Lady (Victor Espinoza), Mrs Kipling (David Flores), Pasar Silbano (Mike Smith) and Burg Berg (Tyler Baze) will be joined in the Senorita by Santa Ysabel Stakes winner Century Park (Joel Rosario).
Mrs Kipling worked seven furlongs on turf in 1:30.80 under exercise rider Wendy Stone for trainer Neil Drysdale.
Pasar Silbano, winner of the La Habra Stakes at Santa Anita, worked five furlongs in :59.40 on Pro-Ride at Santa Anita under exercise rider Melanie Cassidy to the satisfaction of trainer Jim Cassidy.
A pair of Irish-bred imports nominated to the Senorita worked for trainer Paddy Gallagher, who said he was unsure whether either or both would make their U.S. bows in that spot. Andalacia, unbeaten in her only start, worked five furlongs on grass in 1:01.80 under Jose Valdivia, Jr., while Lexlenos, victorious in two of four outings, drilled the same distance in 1:02 under Alex Solis.
Gallagher hopes either of the pair can follow in the footsteps of such recent European imports as Three Degrees, Valbenny and Magical Fantasy. Valbenny won the 2007 Senorita while Three Degrees and Magical Fantasy both finished second by a nose in 2005 and 2008, respectively.
The Senorita is the first of three turf races at the meet in the 3-year-old filly division, followed by the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap May 31 and the $700,000 American Oaks July 5.
FINISH LINES —Trainer Marty Jones said Compari returned in top shape after scoring his first stakes win in the $250,000 Snow Chief for 3-year-olds Saturday. “He looked good this morning,” said Jones. “Maybe we’ll look at the Swaps (July 18) down the road for him.” Jones has two stakes-winning California-bred 3-year-olds in his barn. He said that Lucky Primo, winner of the California Cup Juvenile last year before going to the sidelines with a knee injury, is scheduled to work five furlongs for the second time this week as he nears a return…Artiste Royal worked seven furlongs in a bullet 1:26.80 on turf Sunday for Neil Drysdale. He will race in the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard Saturday and be ridden by Garrett Gomez. Victor Espinoza will ride Proudinsky for Bobby Frankel in the same race. On Friday, Espinoza will ride Gabby’s Golden Girl for Bob Baffert in the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks…Tyler Baze will ride Battle of Hastings, a double stakes winner on the Santa Anita turf, for trainer Jeff Mullins in the Crown Royal American Turf Stakes Friday at Churchill….Unbeaten female champion Zenyatta worked five furlongs in 59 seconds breezing on Cushion Track as she neared her 2009 bow for trainer John Shirreffs…Aaron Gryder was excused from his mounts Sunday because of illness, according to track stewards.