Graded stakes winners Admiral Kitten and Jack Milton ship in for the $250,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) Dec. 1, where they will face a solid group of local 3-year-olds on the Betfair Hollywood Park turf.
The 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Derby is one of two grade I events on the final day of Hollywood Park's Turf Festival Sunday, sharing top billing with the $250,000 Matriarch for fillies and mares at one mile. The Hollywood Derby is race 6 with a 3:04 p.m. PST scheduled post, one hour before the Matriarch, which is race 8.
Admiral Kitten, one of two homebreds in the Hollywood Derby lineup for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, captured the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) this summer at Arlington Park. The Churchill Downs-based son of Kitten's Joy comes off a runner-up finish half a length behind Up With the Birds as a slight favorite in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Oct. 5.
The bay colt, trained by Mike Maker, is listed as the 5-2 morning line pick in the 10-horse field. Breaking from post 6 with Julien Leparoux aboard, Admiral Kitten has won three of nine lifetime starts with five seconds and a field-leading $559,080 in earnings. Hollywood Park will be the seventh track at which Admiral Kitten has competed.
The Ramseys' other entrant is Amen Kitten (10-1), winner of the Tropical Park Derby as the favorite in his most recent start Oct. 12 at Calder Casino & Race Course. Wesley Ward conditions the Kitten's Joy gelding, to be ridden from gate 8 by Javier Castellano.
Gary Barber's Jack Milton also comes out of the Jamaica, where he finished half a length behind Admiral Kitten when third for trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of War Front has finished third in his past four starts, including the Secretariat and the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT). The dark bay colt won the Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) in April at Keeneland.
The well-traveled Jack Milton has not been worse than third in seven lifetime appearances. Joel Rosario has the mount on the 7-2 morning line hope from post 4.
Team Valor International's grade III winner Infinite Magic (8-1) returns to Southern California for the first time since finishing second in the second division of the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) Sept. 1. In his lone start since, the More than Ready colt tired early on soft ground in the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) Oct. 5 and finished last. Joe Talamo, who rode Infinite Magic at Del Mar, has the call for trainer Rick Mettee.
Juddmonte Farms homebred Seek Again (6-1), a three-time winner in Great Britain from seven starts for trainer John Gosden, is set to make his United States debut. The Kentucky-bred Speightstown colt won a handicap event at York in his most recent start Oct. 12 as the favorite. He will have Corey Nakatani in the irons.
Leading the local contingent is Rookie Sensation, who earned his first graded victory in the Twilight Derby (gr. IIT) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park. This will be his first appearance over the Hollywood Park turf for trainer John Shirreffs and owner/breeder Stronach Stables.
The Unbridled's Song colt, pegged at 9-2, was second by a neck in his turf debut July 19 at Del Mar before winning an optional claimer over the same course Aug. 31. He posted an 8-1 upset in the Twilight Derby, which he won from well off the pace by one length over Gabriel Charles. Victor Espinoza has the return call from post 9.
Gervinho comes off a third in the Twilight Derby, finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind Rookie Sensation for owner Keith Brackpool and trainer Carla Gaines. The son of Unusual Heat won the Zuma Beach and a division of the Oceanside earlier this year before a runner-up finish in the Del Mar Derby. Rafael Bejarano retains the mount on the 8-1 morning line shot.
Dry Summer (12-1), trained by Jeff Mullins, finished a head behind Gervinho in the Twilight Derby after setting the pace at 22-1. The son of Any Given Saturday is looking for his first graded stakes win and will be ridden by Mike Smith.
Dice Flavor has been off the board in two races since his upset at nearly 9-1 in the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 10 at Del Mar. The son of Scat Daddy , trained Paddy Gallagher, was eighth in the Twilight Derby last time and gets a new rider in Martin Garcia.
Irish Surf makes his first start at Hollywood since he defeated maidens by 3 3/4 lengths going nine furlongs July 6.
$250,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT, Race 6, 3:04 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 1/4 miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Dice Flavor (KY), M Garcia, P Gallagher
2. Infinite Magic (KY), J Talamo, R C Mettee
3. Gervinho (CA), R Bejarano, C Gaines
4. Jack Milton (KY), J Rosario, T A Pletcher
5. Seek Again (KY), C S Nakatani, J H Gosden
6. Admiral Kitten (KY), J R Leparoux, M J Maker
7. Dry Summer (KY), M E Smith, J Mullins
8. Amen Kitten (IL), J Castellano, W A Ward
9. Rookie Sensation (KY), V Espinoza, J A Shirreffs
10. Irish Surf (KY), J Valdivia Jr., D L Hendricks
All assigned 122 pounds.