NOVEMBER 28, 2012
by John Mucciolo
There were six graded races over the Holiday weekend at Hollywood Park.
Hollywood Derby (G1): Lewis Lakin's UNBRIDLED COMMAND (Master Command) made a sweeping move to take the lead in early stretch and powered home a convincing 1 1/2-length winner in this grassy test for conditioner Tom Bush. The East Coast import finished off 1 1/4 miles in 2:01 with Javier Castellano in the saddle.
Matriarch S. (G1): Godolphin's homebred BETTER LUCKY (Ghostzapper) tracked in third behind a fast early pace, took command near midstretch and held off a late rally to pull off the upset for trainer Tom Albertrani. The sophomore miss traveled one mile on the firm lawn in a snappy 1:34 under Eddie Castro.
Citation H. (G2): Stuart Janney III's homebred DATA LINK (War Front) tracked from a few lengths off the early pace and flew home to put this field away with a 2 1/4-length victory under Garrett Gomez. The Shug McGaughey trainee sped 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.
Miesque S. (G3): Val-U-Chem Inc's TRAVESURA (Limehouse) led at every call to earn her first stakes score for trainer Jeff Mullins. The juvenile miss was a half-length clear under the wire while completing the one-mile grassy affair in 1:37 beneath Tyler Baze.
Generous S. (G3): Westrock Stables LLC's DEN'S LEGACY (Medaglia d'Oro) sat a few lengths off the lead before putting in a big run in early stretch and staying on to win by a half-length. The Bob Baffert charge got a mile on the firm lawn in 1:36 1/5 under the guidance of Gomez.
Hollywood Prevue S. (G3): Watson, Weitman and Pegram's REALLY MR GREELY (Horse Greeley) took the lead out of the gate and never looked back in holding off all challengers en route to a half-length tally under Julien Leparoux. The Baffert charge endured seven panels on the main oval in 1:22 4/5.
From a total of 39 races held at the Southern California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 31 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 62 percent of the wins. From 24 frays contested on the Cushion Track oval, 13 animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (54 percent), while two of the 15 grassy tussles went all the way on the lead (13 percent).
A fine week for speed types on the main oval, with 13 runners leading at every call on the Cushion oval from just 24 races. We did notice that most of these winners were quite logical, so while the numbers indicate that it was a violent bias, we're not sure if that was the case. Surely, we'll keep a close eye on how those runners fare early in the week.
A total of 21 winners from 24 races on the Cushion surface broker from posts 1-through-6, but much of that did have to do with smaller fields in a slew of those races.
HORSES TO WATCH
3RD -- EXCHANGE STUDENT (Exchange Rate) was a clear second while not ever getting to the winner in this one, but we think the horse that topped him is a good one and expect the Tom Proctor trainee to win very soon.
7TH -- The consistently good CHURCH AVENUE (Vicar) outsprinted this field early and never was challenged inside the final furlong of this wire-to-wire victory for conditioner Ron Ellis. The six-year-old mare likes this oval, is very versatile and could improve next time second off the shelf.
2ND -- Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer may have gotten away with one when placing the debuting SCARY RIDE (Candy Ride) in this maiden claiming spot at first asking, as the four-year-old filly crushed this field by nine lengths under the wire. We imagine this one won't be offered for a tag next out.
5TH -- SURFCUP (Unusual Heat) was last for the opening half-mile of this turf event, but put in a big late rally to get up late in a fine debut run for Baffert. The juvenile colt came home in a swift :23 and could evolve into a stakes player with forward progress.
5TH -- RISING LEGEND (Rock of Gibraltar) was dead last after the opening half-mile following a tardy start, but the juvenile colt closed with a rush to be a fine second in his U.S. debut. The John Sadler charge appears to have a bright future in the states.
9TH -- PUSSYCAT LIPS (Holy Roman Emperor) gave Sadler another Euro import as one to watch after overcoming traffic to finish second in this race. She should be tough right back and into her 2013 campaign.
5TH -- TIZ FLIRTATIOUS (Tizbud) proved her class with open foes with a big second from well off the pace in this class rise, finishing well clear of third. The Cal-bred miss was a sharp winner in her prep for this off the shelf and should be a big factor with the best on this circuit going forward.
7TH -- We really liked WINE LIST (Giant's Causeway) heading into this race and the Ellis trainee ran well but was denied late while settling for second. The juvenile colt has faced a few solid fields to begin his career and could be a nice one with expected improvement.
10TH -- Sadler may have made a great claim in here with the debuting MISS AMERICAN PIE (Sharp Humor), who ran this field off their respective feet with a 12 1/4-length trouncing. We have no idea how good this juvenile filly could be.
A Look Ahead
Saturday will play host to the Grade 3, $250,000 Native Diver Handicap, while the Grade 3, $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes will top the action on Sunday.
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