Court Vision and Sailor’s Cap, a pair of stakes winners from the East, arrived at Hollywood Park this week for the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on Sunday.
The Hollywood Derby and $500,000 Matriarch are co-features closing day of the three-day, six-stake Turf Festival, which begins Friday.
Court Vision arrived in Barn 60 North Tuesday from Florida, while Sailor’s Cap was flown in Monday from New York and was stabled in Barn 50 North.
McCarthy said the colt arrived at 7 p.m. after being vanned from Payson Park to Fort Lauderdale and flown to Memphis and LAX.
“He seems to be bright and happy,” said McCarthy. “I know he wants to walk faster than I do.”
Court Vision is a graded stakes winner on dirt, synthetic and turf, winning the Grade II Jamaica Handicap on the Belmont Park grass in his last outing Oct. 4.
“I do think at this stage of his career he appreciates the grass a little more,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy, a native of Ireland, has been with Mott since 1995. “When I started with Bill, Cigar was reaching the pinnacle of his career,” said McCarthy. “I’ve seen plenty of good ones since then but none quite that good.” McCarthy accompanied Go Between when he won the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August.
McCarthy expects Court Vision to rally from mid-pack in the Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on turf. “A little bit of speed in there is not going to hamper him,” said McCarthy in apparent reference to expected pacesetters Muny and Cowboy Cal.
“Court Vision and Gio Ponti have been butting heads,” said McCarthy of another stakes winner in the lineup. “He got us in the Virginia Derby, and we got him in New York (in the Jamaica). We’ve got a bit of a rivalry going.”
Sailor’s Cap has also run against both, defeating Court Vision in the Colonial Turf Cup and finishing third in the Virginia Derby.
“He jogged once around today,” said Dana Antonczak, assistant to trainer Jim Toner,
after a long trip from New York two days earlier.
“He’s an easy keeper and a mild-tempered horse,” said Antonczak. “There were excessive delays and a refueling stop on the flight but he doesn’t get rattled about too much stuff.”
Antonczak, who came out last year with third-place finisher Bold Hawk for Toner, was happy to see rain dampen the track the previous night.
“I don’t need to express my elation at the rain we just got, and I’m hoping for more,” said Antonczak. “I’m probably the only one, but if rain softens it up, it will make it that much easier on him.”
Sailor’s Cap has recorded two of his three victories on “off” turf courses, including 6 ¾-length romp in the Colonial Turf Cup during a downpour in Virginia. “It came down torrentially, and the horse just loved it,” said Antonczak.
The probable lineup: Court Vision (Ramon Dominguez), Sailor’s Cap (Alan Garcia), Cowboy Cal (John Velazquez), Gio Ponti (Garrett Gomez), Madeo (Mike Smith), Muny (David Flores), Midships (Rafael Bejarano) and Albahri (Julien Leparoux). Dixie Chatter, also under consideration for the Native Diver Handicap Dec. 6, heads a list of possibles.
CRIMINOLOGIST MAKES LONG TRIP FOR MATRIARCH
Pam York, assistant to trainer Shug McGaughey, hopes Criminologist has a smoother trip in the $500,000 Matriarch Sunday than she experienced in a flight from New York Monday.
“It was a long trip,” said York, who accompanied the 5-year-old mare, after jogging her on the main track Wednesday. “We left Belmont at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time and got here at 11:30 p.m. Western time, about 17 hours. We flew from a cargo airport on Long Island to Louisville, where we were on the ground for three hours because of problems with the plane. Then we had an unscheduled stop to refuel in Palm Springs before we got to Ontario.
“Criminologist is a great shipper; it didn’t bother her at all,” added York, who hopes to send the mare to the breeding shed with her first Grade I victory in her career finale.
“We pulled it off earlier this year with Carriage Trail in the Spinster,” said York, who also galloped her before her first Grade I stakes win at Keeneland before retirement next year.
“Carriage Trail and Criminologist are related,” pointed out York. “Both have the same grand-dam, Deputation. Their dams are full sisters. Deputation was bred to Seeking The Gold to produce Search Party, the dam of Criminologist, and Manoa, the dam of Carriage Party.”
York made her first visit to California since she worked here 11 years ago.
“I worked here from 1991-97 for Rodney Rash,” said York, a native of Tallahassee, Fla. “I stayed a few more months with Ben Cecil, then moved to New York. I first worked there for Tom Skiffington and have been with Shug since 1999. I used to work for him in 1986-87.”
York said she will miss Criminologist, a multiple Grade III winner.
“I’ve been galloping horses for 30 years and she’s definitely in my top three,” said York, also including Urgent Request, a Santa Anita Handicap winner, and Maxzene. “She’s honest, and a pleasure to ride. She’s one of those horses you wait all your life to ride.” Edgar Prado has the call.
The Grade I Matriarch for fillies and mares at one mile on turf is also expected to include defending champion Precious Kitten (Rafael Bejarano), Visit (Garrett Gomez), Cocoa Beach (Ramon Dominguez), Black Mamba (Mike Smith), Roshani (John Velazquez), Rosinka (Jeremy Rose), Magical Fantasy (Alex Solis), Passified and I Can See.
SHIRREFFS RETURNS TO BARN
Trainer John Shirreffs, hospitalized for two days with a pelvic injury after his pony was spooked on the main track Friday, has returned to work.
“I took today off because of the rain,” said Shirreffs from his home in Arcadia Wednesday. “But I was back in the barn Sunday afternoon and Monday and Tuesday mornings.
“It was no big deal,” said Shirreffs, 63, of the injury. “I’ve taken plenty of lacrosse balls to the gut.” Shirreffs played lacrosse in high school on Long Island.
Shirreffs looks forward to Sunday when, in addition to Madeo running in the Hollywood Derby, Zenyatta will be honored by the track with free posters signed by jockey Mike Smith.
“She’s going to parade,” said Shirreffs of the 4-year-old filly, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Distaff and unbeaten in nine starts.
“We’re going to be a bunch of proud people that day,” said Shirreffs of “team” members including himself, Smith, owners Jerry and Ann Moss, racing manager Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs (the trainer’s wife), groom Mario Espinoza, exercise rider Steve Willard and foreman Frank Leal.
HYPERBARIC READY FOR CITATION
Trainer Julio Canani said Wednesday from Santa Anita that it was not difficult to resist the temptation of the Breeders’ Cup Mile for Hyperbaric after the 5-year-old gelding won the Grade II Oak Tree Mile, a “win-and-you’re-in” race Sept. 28.
“The Breeders’ Cup Mile was too close (Oct. 25),” said Canani. “You can’t keep dancing and doing well. You can’t be greedy.”
Canani instead targeted the $400,000 Citation Handicap Friday at 1 1/16 miles on turf in hopes of giving the horse ample time between races to earn his first Grade I stakes victory.
Hyperbaric, who finished third in the Shoemaker Mile and American Handicap here this summer, breaks from the rail under co-high weight of 120 pounds with jockey Tyler Baze in a field of ten.