Top-weighted City to City and defending champion Washington Bridge form a potent duo in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer at Hollywood Park Dec. 4.
The Bayakoa, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Hollywood's Cushion Track, attracted a field of seven, with City to City assigned high weight of 121 pounds. The Bayakoa is the eighth race on the program with a 4:07 p.m. PST post.
Will de Burgh and Mark Dedomenico co-own City to City along with Hollendorfer. The 4-year-old daughter of City Zip won the Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT) at the Bayakoa distance in September at Del Mar. The chestnut filly is coming off a runner-up finish to All Star Heart in the one-mile Las Palmas Stakes (gr. IIT) on a good turf course at Santa Anita Nov. 6.
The Bayakoa will be City to City's first race on a synthetic surface since she finished fifth in the Corte Madera Stakes two years ago at Golden Gate Fields.
A six-time winner of 21 starts with earnings of $401,491, City to City drew the far outside slot in the compact field and will have Garrett Gomez back aboard. Gomez rode her in both the Palomar and Las Palmas.
“City to City is the horse to beat,” said Dan Ward, assistant to Hollendorfer. “We were thinking about entering her in the Matriarch (Nov. 25) but decided to wait another week."
Washington Bridge is looking for her first victory since capturing her first graded stakes in last year's Bayakoa, which she won rallying from last by nearly two lengths. The 4-year-old Yankee Gentleman filly has lost eight in a row, though she turned in an improved performance when a close third behind All Star Heart in the restricted Swingtime Stakes at one mile Oct. 8.
Washington Bridge, owned by Hollendorfer and Dedomenico, could join Manistique (1998-1999) and Starrer (2001-2002) as a two-time winner of the Bayakoa.
“We’ll have a good entry in there,” Ward said.
Both fillies worked five furlongs Nov. 26 at Hollywood, with Washington Bridge clocked in :59 1/5 and City to City in 1:01 3/5.
Winless since the 2010 Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, Southern Equine Stable's Champagne d'Oro is another looking to end a long slump for trainer Eric Guillot. The 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro lass hasn't dodged any tough spots during her nine-race loss string, however, and is coming off a sixth-place finish at 30-1 odds in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 4.
Champagne d'Oro leads the Bayakoa field in earnings with $614,940 while winning three of 21 lifetime starts.
Class Racing Stable's Bauble Queen, third in Santa Anita's Harold C. Ramser (gr. IIIT) on the turf Oct. 16, seeks her first stakes victory for trainer Eric Kruljac. The 3-year-old daughter of Arch has won twice in four starts since breaking her maiden by 5 1/4 lengths at Hollywood in June.
Miss Mittagong, by Pleasantly Perfect out of the A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) winner Go Go at Hollywood in 2001, also looks for her first stakes win for trainer Ben Cecil. Previously raced in England, 4-year-old Miss Mittagong has won two of seven starts in the United States since May. That includes a victory in an off-the-turf optional claiming allowance race in her most recent start at Hollywood Nov. 12.
Love Theway Youare, a 3-year-old owned and trained by Myung Kwon Cho, and the Bob Baffert-trained 4-year-old Ellafitz are also seeking their first stakes victories. Love Theway Youare ran fifth in the Lady's Secret Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Oct. 1. Ellafitz, who should be able to dictate the tempo with Martin Garcia aboard, has not been out since finishing last in the restricted Adoration Stakes at Del Mar Sept. 4.
$150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Love Theway Youare (KY), A Quinonez, 113, M K Cho
2. Washington Bridge (KY), J Talamo, 116, J Hollendorfer
3. Ellafitz (KY), M Garcia, 116, B Baffert
4. Miss Mittagong (KY), J Rosario, 115, B D Cecil
5. Champagne d'Oro (KY), V Espinoza, 118, E J Guillot
6. Bauble Queen (KY), R Bejarano, 113, J E Kruljac
7. City to City (KY), G K Gomez, 121, J Hollendorfer