Trainer Bob Baffert, fresh off a two-three finish in the Hollywood Starlet on Saturday, will try again with two entrants in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity here next Saturday.
Baffert gave the green light to Pioneerof the Nile and Ventana after the pair worked Sunday at Santa Anita.
“Ventana is speed, and Pioneerofthe Nile is more of a stalker,” said Baffert. “Ventana has been disappointing but today was the best work I’ve seen. He’s a big fast horse, and we’ll let him go out. The way speed has been carrying, like yesterday in the Starlet, we’ll see how far he can take them.
“Pioneerof the Nile will run farther,” said Baffert. “He looks awesome. He deserves to be the favorite.”
Pioneerof the Nile and Ventana both seek their first stakes victories in the Grade I Futurity at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track. Pioneerof the Nile, making his first start for the Baffert stable, finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his last outing for Bill Mott. Ventana finished in a dead heat for third in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes in his last start.
Baffert seeks a record-equaling fourth victory in the Futurity. He won with Real Quiet in 1997, Captain Steve in 1999 and Point Given in 2000.
Two other colts under Futurity consideration also worked Sunday at Santa Anita for trainer Todd Pletcher. Bittel Road and Hype, runners-up in the Generous Stakes, each worked five furlongs in 1:02. Mike Smith has a call on one of the colts, probably Bittel Road.
Other probable starters include Azul Leon (Joel Rosario), winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship; Chocolate Candy (Rafael Bejarano) and J.P. Jammer (Aaron Gryder), one-two finishers in the Real Quiet Stakes; I Want Revenge (Joseph Talamo), a maiden winner here in his last start; Northern California invader Frumious (Victor Espinoza), who has won his last three starts at Golden Gate Fields, and English import Axel Foley (Michael Baze). San Luis Rey Downs-based Backbackbackgone heads a short list of possibles.
Axel Foley, who broke his maiden at second asking on the Lingfield synthetic surface Oct. 15, arrived Saturday and will clear quarantine Monday. A Kentucky-bred son of Officer, Axel Foley is here with exercise rider Martin Smith and will go to the Doug O’Neill barn, where he will be joined by trainer John Best later this week.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who won the Futurity 20 years ago with King Glorious, hopes to strike again with Chocolate Candy. “This is a little tougher field, but he’s doing real good, and we think he’s ready,” said Hollendorfer of the Candy Ride colt, seeking his third straight victory. “He will work again Tuesday at Santa Anita.”
Trainer Rafael Becerra hopes to turn the tables on Chocolate Candy with J.P. Jammer in the Futurity. “I don’t want him to be on the lead,” said Becerra. “Last time there was no speed, he had the three-hole, and had to go up there. But he didn’t quit.”
J.P. Jammer completed his drills with a five-furlong move in 1:00.20 at Santa Anita on Saturday under Gryder to the satisfaction of Becerra. “We’re going to supplement, just like we did with St. Averil,” said Becerra in reference to the 2003 runner-up behind Lion Heart.
Azul Leon, a son of Lion Heart, completed his work for trainer O’Neill with a five-furlong drill in 1:01.40 here Saturday under exercise rider Tony Romero. “We’re ready to roll,” O’Neill said.
GREEN LYONS WORKS FOR DAHLIA
Green Lyons worked six furlongs on turf in 1:16.60 under exercise rider Debra Biggs in company with Sensational Love on Sunday for the $150,000 Dahlia Handicap next Sunday. The Grade II Dahlia is the closing-day feature of the meet for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
Green Lyons, a 4-year-old Irish-bred filly who began her career in France, seeks her first United States stakes victory in nine tries after an allowance score here Nov. 8.
“She’s had some difficult trips this year, and I liked her race the other day,” said trainer Neil Drysdale. “She’s going the right way.” Joel Rosario has the Dahlia call.
A large and contentious field is shaping up. Expected to join Green Lyons are Vacare (Jose Valdivia, Jr.), Valbenny (Alex Solis), Grace and Power (Victor Espinoza), Storybook (Mike Smith), Lady Digby, I Can See, Northern California invader In My Glory (Martin Garcia), French invader Belle Allure (Corey Nakatani), English invader Don’t Forget Faith (Aaron Gryder) and one of a trio of European imports for trainer Patrick Biancone.
Grace and Power, runner-up in the Hollywood Starlet, joined the David Hofmans stable two weeks ago and worked six furlongs in 1:13 Sunday at Santa Anita.
STARLET WINNER TO SHIP TO FLORIDA
Laragh, who was shipped from New York on Wednesday to win Saturday’s $438,500 Hollywood Starlet, will remain here with the Bob Baffert stable for a holiday break before being flown to Florida on Dec. 28, trainer John Terranova said Sunday.
“She looked very well,” said Terranova before heading to Huntington Beach to spend the day with his family at the home of his father-in-law. “Her legs were ice cold. She ate up her whole tub of feed last night.”
Laragh scored her third victory in six starts, giving Terranova his first Grade I stakes victory in the Starlet. “She’ll get a little freshening in Florida, and we’ll all get together and figure out her schedule in the spring,” said Terranova. “She’s very versatile. She’s won on turf and synthetic, but she has trained so well on dirt, I can’t wait to try her on that.”
The Baffert barn here hosted 1-2-3 Starlet finishers Laragh, Wynning Ride and Toro Bonito, who combined for a $198 trifecta. Jose Rodriguez, assistant to Baffert here, said Wynning Ride and Toro Bonito were vanned back to Baffert headquarters at Santa Anita this morning.
FINISH LINES — North Rodeo, a nominee to the $75,000-added Cat’s Cradle Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares at 7 ½ furlongs Saturday, worked six furlongs in 1:14 Sunday at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert.