Laragh, third-place finisher as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, will be flown west from New York to compete in the $250,000 Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 13, trainer John Terranova confirmed Friday.
“We plan to fly in next Wednesday,” said Terranova from Florida, where he is setting up shop for the winter. “She breezed five-eighths on the Belmont training track yesterday in 1:02 and galloped out in 1:14 and three. She finished very strong.”
Laragh, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Tapit, went wire-to-wire in both her victories. In the Jessamine, she won by 4 ¾ lengths over Habaya, who came back to win the Miesque Stakes on the Hollywood Park turf Nov. 28.
Laragh is co-owned by IEAH Stables, Gary Tolchin and Pegasus Holdings, which purchased her privately after her maiden victory at Woodbine and transferred her to Terranova before the Keeneland victory. IEAH is also co-owner of Court Vision, winner of the Hollywood Derby last Sunday.
Laragh led most of the way in the Breeders’ Cup before being overtaken in the closing strides to finish third, beaten by one length.
“We came back quickly: there were only 15 days between the Jessamine and the Breeders’ Cup,” said Terranova, who noted that the filly may have been too sharp after setting the pace to a half in 45.80 seconds.
“I thought she ran fantastic,” said Terranova. “She did all the dirty work and just came up a length short. She doesn’t need to be on the lead, but if she happens to be on the lead, so be it. She’s never been rank.”
Terranova said the Starlet, a Grade I test at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track, was not a long-range objective. “We were planning to freshen her for the winter and didn’t have anything on the radar. But she has been giving us all the good signs (in training). We are going to supplement.”
Edgar Prado has the Starlet call on the gray/roan daughter of Tapit.
“She broke her maiden on Polytrack at Woodbine so the switch in surfaces should not be an issue,” said Terranova.
Terranova, 38, is a native New Yorker who launched his career in Southern California. “I started out there in 1992-93 with a handful of horses before I moved back to New York,” he said. “I met my wife, Tonja, who worked for Brian Mayberry.”
Laragh will be stabled in the Bob Baffert barn, reciprocity since Terranova stables the horses Baffert ships to New York.
Terranova said he, his wife and their two daughters will visit his wife’s father in Huntington Beach. “It should be a great weekend, and hopefully Laragh will make it even better,” he said.
PENDER HOPES FOR TURF CUP UPSET
Why is a horse who raced for a $5,000 claiming tag two races back entered in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, a Grade I test at 1 ½ miles on turf, Saturday?
“I realize it’s a giant jump in class but the horse is doing so well we’re willing to take a shot,” trainer Mike Pender explained Friday of Santa Anita-based Summer Survivor.
A California-bred 5-year-old gelding, Summer Survivor won a $5,000 claiming race at Fairplex Park in September before finishing third in the Bull Dog Stakes at Fresno in his last start Oct. 12.
Summer Survivor was claimed for $10,000 at Santa Anita in March by Georgiadis Fotis in his second start back following an 18-month layoff. He has won two of his last three starts after competing with a $3,200 claiming tag at the Solano County Fair in July.
“The horse is doing better than ever,” said Pender. “A mile and a half is uncharted territory, but I know he can get a mile and an eighth on turf. I hope he can lead until the top of the stretch and take it from there.”
Summer Survivor showed a fondness for the Hollywood Park turf in 2006, breaking his maiden on it at 1 1/16 miles and coming back to finish second in an allowance race. Career-wise, he has recorded two firsts and two seconds in five grass starts.
Summer Survivor is expected to set the pace under Jon Court, who has been aboard in recent works.
“We know he despises a synthetic race track so grass is our only option,” said Pender. “He breezed a good half mile on the turf at Santa Anita a few works back.”
The longest $2 win payoff in Turf Cup history is $72.60, set by Frenchpark in 1994. That record could be in jeopardy Saturday.
CANANI SEEKS NATIVE DIVER-BAYAKOA SWEEP
Trainer Julio Canani thinks the footing may be greener on Cushion Track than grass for Spring House and Wake Up Maggie.
Canani opted for Saturday’s $100,000-added Native Diver Handicap on Cushion Track with Spring House, a graded stakes winner on turf who was also nominated to the Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup, in which he finished third last year.
On Sunday, Wake Up Maggie — a Group III stakes winner in England and winner of the Long Beach Stakes on turf here — is entered in the $150,000, Grade II Bayakoa Handicap for fillies and mares on Cushion Track.
“Spring House has always trained well on Cushion Track,” explained Canani, who had been looking to run him on a synthetic surface for owner R.D. Hubbard, former chairman of Hollywood Park.
Spring House, a 6-year-old gelding, has made 33 of 35 career starts on grass, twice finishing third on dirt in 2006 races at Saratoga and the Meadowlands, respectively.
“He’s a mile-and-a-quarter horse, but I think there will be a lot of speed in there,” said Canani, hoping Spring House can rally in time in the 1 1/8-mile Grade III test.
Wake Up Maggie, a 5-year-old mare, began her career in England and has made 18 of 21 starts on turf. Canani is willing to throw out a distant fifth-place finish in the Grade I Spinster Stakes in her last start at Keeneland on Oct. 5.
“That race was too far,” said Canani of the 1 1/8-mile race. “She won at Del Mar on synthetic.” Wake Up Maggie scored an upset victory in the one-mile Adoration Handicap at Del Mar with favorite Model third.
Canani hopes for a Del Mar replay in the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa, in which Model is the probable favorite.
GAYEGO IMPRESSES LOBO
Trainer Paulo Lobo could not have been happier with the performance of Gayego, who won an allowance race here Sunday in track-record time of 1:13.37 for 6 ½ furlongs.
“Unbelievable!” said Lobo of the 3-year-old colt who won the Arkansas Derby earlier this year and was making his second start back since the Preakness Stakes.
“He holds the track record at 6 ½ furlongs at Santa Anita too,” said Lobo after the colt delighted his Cubanacan Stables owners.
Gayego established himself as a leading threat for the $250,000 Malibu Stakes, a Grade I seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds opening day at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.
“The Malibu will be a very tough race,” cautioned Lobo. “Into Mischief, Colonel John, Georgie Boy and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint second-place horse (Fatal Bullet) could all be in there.”
Asked whether Gayego would continue in the Strub Series and stretch out after the Malibu or keep sprinting, Lobo said, “We have a lot of options next year.”
NAKATANI HIRES DE GREGORY
Veteran jockey agent Vince De Gregory will be representing Corey Nakatani when the latter returns from a collarbone injury this month, De Gregory announced Friday.
De Gregory said Nakatani would return with a new attitude as well as a healed collarbone. “We all know Corey’s ability when he’s on top of his game,” said De Gregory of the 38-year-old jockey who ranks 13th in career earnings with $186,363,853.
“But we also know his mouth got him in trouble with people,” added De Gregory. “We have been friends since he was an apprentice, and I told him you’re letting your mouth get in the way of your business.
“I told him last night that his disposition has got to change and he has to be humble,” continued De Gregory. “’You acted like people needed you and took off in the afternoon to play in golf tournaments.’ When I get a call, there will be no bickering.”
De Gregory, 76, has served as an agent for nearly 50 years and has represented Hall of Famers Angel Cordero Jr., Laffit Pincay Jr. and Chris McCarron. He took calls for Joel Rosario for more than a year before he was dismissed two weeks ago.
Nakatani’s book was most recently handled by Ron Ebanks, who also represents Tyler Baze. Nakatani suffered a broken collarbone during a spill on opening day of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita on Sept. 24.
“Corey has been getting on horses the last three days at Santa Anita and is still going to therapy,” said De Gregory. “He may come back to ride the last four or five days at Hollywood Park (Dec. 17-21).”