Muny was “on the money” for the $500,000 Hollywood Derby next Sunday. The front-running Oak Tree Derby winner worked six furlongs breezing in 1:14 on turf at Hollywood Park Sunday to the delight of trainer Mike Puype and jockey David Flores.
“He was going as easy as can be; he’s ready to go,” said Puype after the drill in company with stablemate El Carillero, who came from behind and closed two lengths in the stretch but did not pass the leader, under a hold by Flores.
“He doesn’t have to be on the lead, but at a mile and a quarter he will be forwardly placed for sure,” said Puype.
“But I don’t think there will be a horse that can keep up with him,” said Flores of the early pace. Muny, a gelded son of Najran, has won his last three starts with game finishes turning back challengers. Puype keeps his fingers crossed that Muny can handle ten furlongs as well as he did nine in the Oak Tree Derby.
A field of nine is probable: Court Vision (Ramon Dominguez), Cowboy Cal (John Velazquez), Dixie Chatter (Tyler Baze), Gio Ponti (Garrett Gomez), Madeo (Mike Smith), Midships (Rafael Bejarano), Muny (Flores), Sailor’s Cap (Alan Garcia) and Albahri (Julien Leparoux).
Bejarano took a call on English import Midships for trainer Bobby Frankel. The gray/roan son of Mizzen Mast has worked four times at Santa Anita since a second-place finish in a Newmarket stake Oct. 3.
Victorious in two of ten starts, Midships was favored in a stake won by Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Raven’s Pass in a 2007 stake at Ascot and finished ahead of Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Conduit in an April stake at Sandown.
MOTT TO SEND PAIR TO TURF FESTIVAL
Trainer Bill Mott confirmed Sunday from Florida that Court Vision would be shipped west for the $500,000 Hollywood Derby next Sunday and be accompanied by Successful Mission for the $100,000-added Generous Stakes for 2-year-olds on Saturday.
“They will both breeze Monday and ship Tuesday,” said Mott of the pair stabled at Payson Park.
“Court Vision does a little bit of everything,” said Mott. “He’s okay on dirt and synthetic, and he’s real good on turf.”
Court Vision has won on all three surfaces, breaking his maiden on synthetic at Keeneland, winning the Iroquois and Remsen stakes on dirt at Churchill Downs and Aqueduct, respectively, and annexing the Jamaica Handicap on the grass in his last outing at Belmont Park, edging Gio Ponti Oct. 4.
“His second turf start in the Virginia Derby was quite good, a good indicator (of his grass ability),” said Mott of the colt’s second-place finish, a nose behind Gio Ponti in July.
Mott won the 1992 Hollywood Derby with Paradise Creek.
Successful Mission won his last two outings on turf, breaking his maiden at the Meadowlands and winning a small stake at Belmont, after two setbacks on dirt.
“I always thought he was a nice horse, and he was not able to show it until I put him on turf,” said Mott. “So far, he hasn’t done anything wrong on grass.”
Mott also said Pioneerof the Nile, fifth-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, has been transferred to the Bob Baffert stable at Santa Anita. He is a candidate for the $750,000 CashCall Futurity here Dec. 20.
SAILOR’S CAP TO SHIP FOR HOLLYWOOD DERBY
New York-based trainer Jim Toner, who shipped Bold Hawk west last year to finish third in the Hollywood Derby, hopes to better that finish this year with Sailor’s Cap.
“They’re entirely different types of horses,” Toner said Sunday. “Bold Hawk was a big huge horse. Sailor’s Cap is a very neat-looking athletic-type horse. He is smaller and quicker, and you can place him anywhere.”
Toner said Sailor’s Cap, who has been training at Belmont Park, will be flown west Monday. He finished a closing third in the Johns Gold Stakes at Belmont Oct. 23 in his first start in three months.
“He planned to freshen him after the Virginia Derby (in which he finished third in July),” explained Toner. “But he came up with a foot issue after that race, and it took more time off than we had anticipated.
“He was not 100 per cent for the Johns Gold but he had to make that timeframe to make the Hollywood Derby,” said Toner. “He came out of it well, and has trained well.”
Sailor’s Cap won the Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs in a downpour in June as a 1 3/16-mile prep for the Virginia Derby. “He looked like a sailor to swim through everything the way he did,” recalled Toner with a chuckle.
I CAN SEE FIRES BULLET FOR MATRIARCH
I Can See worked five furlongs in a bullet 1:01.60 on turf Sunday under exercise rider Fernando Serna to earn a probable start in the $500,000 Matriarch next Sunday.
“The rider said she worked fabulous,” said trainer Steve Knapp of the one-eyed 5-year-old mare. “She’s training good. I just don’t know if she’s good enough but we‘ve got to try.” The Grade I test is for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
“She was way too far back in the Yellow Ribbon,” said Knapp of a sixth-place finish after being last in a ten-horse field in the early going in her last start Sept. 27 at Santa Anita.
I Can See is expected to be a longshot in a lineup also expected to include defending champion Precious Kitten (Rafael Bejarano), Visit (Garrett Gomez), Cocoa Beach (Ramon Dominguez), Roshani (John Velazquez), Rosinka (Jeremy Rose), Black Mamba (Mike Smith), Magical Fantasy (Alex Solis), Criminologist (Edgar Prado) and Passified.
GOMEZ SEEKS THIRD CITATION
Jockey Garrett Gomez seeks a record-equaling third victory in the $400,000 Citation Handicap, a Grade I test at 1 1/16 miles on turf Friday.
Gomez has taken a call back on Whatsthescript, third-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Mile for trainer John Sadler, who also plans to run Becrux, a supplementary entry.
Gomez won the 1998 Citation on Military and the 2006 running aboard Ashkal Way. He tries to join exclusive company. Bill Shoemaker, Gary Stevens, Patrick Valenzuela, Chris McCarron and Laffit Pincay, Jr. have each won the race three times.
Other probable starters include Proudinsky — third-place finisher last year — and Ferneley, Formal Decree, Galantas, Hyperbaric, Lord Admiral and Rebellion.
FINISH LINES — Platinum Stiletto, a recent maiden winner here, and Ms. Lively, who broke her maiden at Calder, worked five furlongs in company in 1:03.20 on turf for the $100,000-added Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on turf Friday for trainer Jennie Green. Both are daughters of Mr. Livingston. They are owned and bred by Teresa and David Palmer, who stand the stallion. Trainer Bob Baffert also plans to enter a pair of Century Park and Internallyflawless, as does John Sadler with Emmy Darling and Eloquently. Other probables include Habaya, Kinesiology and Pretty Katherine…Canadian invader Insurgence worked five furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:00.60 for the Mark Casse stable for the $100,000-added Generous Stakes for 2-year-olds on turf Saturday. Other probables include the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Bittel Road and Hype, and Florida invader Successful Mission…Carrilero drilled six furlongs on turf in 1:13.60 under Jose Valdivia Jr., for the $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express Handicap at six furlongs Saturday. The Mike Puype-trained Argentine-bred will carry 114 pounds. California Flag is expected to be the starting high weight at 117. Desert Code (121) and In Summation (120) are both expected to pass. Trainer David Hofmans said that Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Desert Code will miss because of some filling in an ankle…Trainer John Shirreffs, who was hospitalized Friday after his pony was spooked on the track, is scheduled to be released today from Centinela Hospital, according to assistant Michelle Jensen. Shirreffs, 63, suffered an injury to his pelvic region…”Awesome,” said West Point Thoroughbreds representative Jeff Bloom after Awesome Gem worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 on turf for the Hong Kong Mile Dec. 14...Jockey Patrick Smullen is scheduled to come from Ireland for trainer Dermot Weld to ride Winchester, the Secretariat Stakes winner training here the past month, in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup Dec. 6 . . . Jockey Joel Rosario has replaced agent Vince DeGregory with Vic Stauffer.