The Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park gives 2012 Kentucky Derby hopefuls an opportunity to earn a nice chunk of change at the end of their juvenile campaigns. Morning line favorite Majestic City has already garnered $245,570 and tries to add to his bankroll on Saturday.
Trainer Peter Miller captured the CashCall Futurity last year with Comma to the Top and he is back for more with the aforementioned Majestic City. The fleet son of City Zip is 3-for-3 at Hollywood Park and recently hot Aqueduct jock Ramon Dominguez flies in for the mount. Distance is the major hurdle as he has yet to win beyond six furlongs. He removes the hood and is firing local bullets for this.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert takes three cracks at the $750,000 pot and Sky Kingdom looks like an interesting contender. The $180k son of Empire Maker, out of a Kingmambo mare, figured to relish two turns and showed marked improvement on the stretch out in a sharp course/distance maiden breaker Nov 24. Garrett Gomez hops aboard and he fired a strong six furlong bullet at Santa Anita on Dec 11.
Liaison shoots for his third straight win for Baffert. He looked good in the Real Quiet Stakes here last time and tries to win one for his sire Indian Charlie, who succumbed to cancer earlier this week.
The third and final Baffert entrant is Drill, and the enigmatic sort exits back-to-back disappointing efforts in the G1 BC Juvenile and G3 Delta Jackpot. He is reportedly training well and both wins occurred on synthetic but he is hard to recommend in his current form.
John Shirreffs rarely strikes with a first time starter but he did just that with Blingo, who rallied strongly to capture his flat mile turf bow by 2-1/4 lengths. He has the Zenyatta connections in his corner and could easily be this good.
Handsome Mike drew the rail and figures to play catch me if you can under Corey Nakatani. The recent Reddam/O’Neill private purchase is on the upswing and showed high octane speed in his G3 Generous show finish at a flat mile on the turf last time.
Rousing Sermon, the CalCup Juvenile winner, always runs his race and exits a place finish behind Liaison in the Real Quiet. Joe Talamo got to know the Hollendorfer trainee last time and the hard knocking CA-bred is a proven router and can make an impact at 6-1.
Dale Romans has been a fixture on the Triple Crown scene in recent years and he hopes to enjoy another wild ride with Cozzetti. The juvenile son of Cozzene exits a romping maiden win in the Churchill slop and worked over Cushion Track on Dec 11.
Basmati returns to SoCal after landing the place in the G3 Delta Jackpot but the number from that $1 million showcase came back light. He handles synthetic ground and must work out a trip from a tough post under profitable rider Hector Berrios.
Brother Francis is still a maiden after two starts but did flash ability both times including a fine runner-up effort in the G3 Hollywood Prevue. The ambitiously placed non-winner tries two turns for the first time and is listed at 20-1 on the line.
Royal Delta’s baby bro Empire Way was visually impressive in his local bow but did not earn much of a number. He came back in less than two weeks and beat one horse home in the aforementioned Hollywood Prevue. The longer the better for the stretch runner and he should continue to develop but he has not run fast enough to be competitive in this type of race.
Desormais is an overseas transplant now under the care of Paddy Gallagher. He can run on day based on his ten furlong synthetic score in France on Nov 15 but landed the unlucky thirteen hole and could not have found a tougher spot for his US bow.
Speaking of maidens, Groovin’ Solo finished out of the top three in both Del Mar sprint starts. The 50-1 outsider removes the hood and needs an easier spot.
The $40 Play:
$20 to win Sky Kingdom
$10 Quinella Sky Kingdom/Liaison
$5 Quinella Sky Kingdom/Handsome Mike, Blingo