Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer hopes the formula that enabled Killer Graces to win the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) works again with Rousing Sermon in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) Dec. 17 at Hollywood Park.
Killer Graces finished second in the Sharp Cat Stakes in her prep for the Starlet Nov. 13. She then turned the tables on Sharp Cat winner Charm the Maker in the Starlet Dec. 10. Rousing Sermon similarly finished second in the Real Quiet Stakes, the Nov. 12 prep for the Futurity.
“Awesome,” said Dan Ward, assistant to Hollendorfer, after Rousing Sermon worked six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 Dec. 11 with jockey Joe Talamo.
“He used to be a slow workhorse but he worked by himself today in 1:12 and one.
“His numbers have gone up with each race,” said Ward of Rousing Sermon, a homebred son of Lucky Pulpit owned by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams. The California-bred colt has recorded two firsts, one second and two thirds in five starts.
“He’s training better now that he knows what he has to do," Ward said. "There will be some luck involved in a big field, but he will be running in the stretch, that’s for sure.”
Hollendorfer seeks to become the first trainer to win the Starlet and Futurity in the same year. A full field of 14 is probable in the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track test. Hollendorfer won the 1988 Futurity with King Glorious.
Two other Futurity probables also worked on Cushion Track Dec. 10, both at five furlongs. Empire Way was timed in 1:01 for trainer Mike Harrington while Kentucky invader Cozzetti was clocked in 1:02 3/5 breezing.
Cozzetti, who was flown west from Churchill Downs Dec. 6 by trainer Dale Romans, worked under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar.
“I think he’s a special horse, and this is the last chance for a 2-year-old to run in a big race,” said Romans by phone from Kentucky. The decision was made to ship the colt off a five-length maiden score in the mud at Churchill Downs in his third start Nov. 16.
Romans said he will arrive at Hollywood Dec. 15 to apply the final touches to the gray/roan son of Cozzene out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemon Drop Cello.
Harrington was happy with the work by Empire Way. “He went nice,” the trainer said after the drill under John Cisneros. Harrington said a jockey selection was pending for the colt, who finished sixth in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) following an impressive maiden score.
Five-time Futurity winner Bob Baffert said as many as four colts -- Liaison , Drill, Sky Kingdom, and So Brilliant -- are under consideration for the race, He worked three of them Dec. 11 at Santa Anita.
Real Quiet winner Liasion and recent maiden winner Sky Kingdom each worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:11 4/5. Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) winner Drill drilled five panels in 1:00. Jockeys Rafael Bejarano, Martin Garcia, and Garrett Gomez have calls in the race with Baffert.
Brother Francis, runner-up in the Hollywood Prevue, worked five furlongs in 1:02 at Santa Anita Dec. 11 for trainer Jim Cassidy. Victor Espinoza has the call back.
Owner J. Paul Reddam, whose CashCall company sponsors the race, said that Corey Nakatani will ride recent acquisition Handsome Mike and that Hector Berrios has the call on Basmati, owned by his wife Zillah. Both colts are trained by Doug O’Neill. Nakatani won the race last year aboard Comma to the Top.
Peter Miller, who trained Comma to the Top, seeks a repeat with Majestic City, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) in July. Ramon Dominguez will ride the colt, unbeaten in three starts on the Hollywood surface.
Trainer Paddy Gallagher said that French import Desormais was adapting well to his new surroundings after clearing quarantine Dec. 9 and going to the track the past two mornings. David Flores has the Futurity call on the colt, who broke his maiden at Marseilles Nov. 15 in his third start.
Owner-breeder Myung Kwon Cho gave the green light to Groovin' Solo after a five-furlong work in 1:02 at Hollywood Dec. 9. Alonso Quinonez will ride the maiden.
Lucky Chappy, fourth-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT), is scheduled to be flown in Dec. 14 from Maryland by trainer Graham Motion. Lucky Chappy breezed five furlongs in 1:03 at Fair Hill, Md., Dec. 10. Joel Rosario has the riding assignment.