Trainer Craig Lewis says Hot Market's strong suit is his versatility.
That may be why the 4-year-old son of Cee's Tizzy is the 3-1 morning line favorite in Saturday's $250,000 California Cup Classic, Oak Tree's marquee event on Cal Cup XIII day at Santa Anita Park.
Ten were entered for the 1 1/8-mile Classic Wednesday. Hot Market is coming off a game second, beaten only a head by Disturbingthepeace, in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar on Aug. 18.
"I've trained him quite differently than I did at Del Mar," Lewis said. "He's had over two months off but I've tried to give him longer and slower gallops, and his last two works have been at a mile. We've just tried to get him to relax and he's finished well in both works, so, yes, I've trained him a little differently.
"But the reality of it is, if a horse is fit enough, it just gets down to whether or not it can actually get this distance. There are circumstances as well. The interior fractions, I think, have a very big part in the outcome of the race. In other words, pace makes the race."
Hot Market, a gray gelding bred and owned in part by Harris Farms, Inc., is a winner of five of 14 starts, three of the victories coming at Santa Anita.
Meanwhile, Bonus Pay Day will be making his first start in the Classic since Aug. 26 at Del Mar, when he won an optional claiming race by 4 1/2 lengths. It wasn't the game plan to keep the 4-year-old gelded son of Bonus Money out of action for two months, but that's how it unfolded.
"Our intention was always to run in this race," trainer Peter Eurton explained. "I had planned on getting a race into him about a month before, but he's kind of a good-feeling horse and he tied up on me one morning. So I passed on that and just trained him up to the race because I didn't have much choice."
Bonus Pay Day, a winner of eight of 31 starts, was a speed freak until one race after Eurton claimed him for $32,000 last March 27.
"He was always on the lead until we took the blinkers off (on May 4) and then he was able to rate," Eurton said. "Now he's able to maintain his speed for a longer period of time. He won the two-other-than at Del Mar pretty easily. He didn't beat a whole lot, but he did it pretty easily."
Track superintendent Steve Wood said the weather forecast is good for the final weekend of racing at Oak Tree.
"A little bit cloudy Saturday and Sunday, in the mid 60s or low 70s, and a beautiful day." Wood said. He added that rainfall for the meet to date "is pretty close to normal, about 12 or 13 hundredths of an inch. Last year we got a half-inch, so it's about the same."
First post time on Saturday is 12 noon. $250,000 California Cup Classic, 1 1/8 mile
PP, Horse, Jockey, Wgt., ML Odds
1. Groom On The Run, Tony Lovato, 111, 20-1
2. Grey Memo, Alex Solis, 121, 4-1
3. Earl of Danby, Mike Smith, 111, 20-1
4. Slippery When Bet, Tyler Baze, 114, 20-1
5. Hot Market, Jose Valdivia Jr., 120, 3-1
6. Bonus Pay Day, David Flores, 116, 6-1
7. Calkins Road, Laffit Pincay Jr., 115, 6-1
8. Continental Red, Pat Valenzuela, 121, 5-1
9. Long Gone Con, Corey Nakatani, 115, 15-1
10. Eric Da Bomb, Victor Espinoza, 115, 20-1.