Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams' Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) winner Tamarando holds the class edge in a field of 11 sophomore runners entered for the $250,00 California Cup Derby at Santa Anita Park Jan. 25, but seeks a return to winning ways with his 2014 debut after finishing a well-distanced third in the Dec. 14 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) behind Eclipse Award winner Shared Belief.
The late-closing son of Bertrando registered a victory two starts back at the Cal Cup's 1 1/16-mile distance, winning the Real Quiet Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths on the all weather track at Betfair Hollywood Park. He has been a solid contender for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, never worse than third in five starts since breaking his maiden.
With Rafael Bejarano in the irons from post 4, Tamarando shares a highweight assignment of 124.
California Chrome is the other with the heaviest impost in the Cal Cup Derby, which is restricted to Golden State Series Eligible California-breds or California-sired 3-year-olds. The Lucky Pulpit colt rumbled by 6 1/4 lengths in the closing-day King Glorious Stakes going seven furlongs at Hollywood Dec. 22, and figures to rate near the pace in the early going.
He also won the Graduation Stakes this summer at Del Mar for trainer Art Sherman and owners Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, but tackles the 1 1/16-mile distance for the first time. In his only attempt longer than seven furlongs, California Chrome finished sixth in the one-mile Golden State Juvenile after hopping at the start and getting off slow. Victor Espinoza rides from the 7 hole.
Hollendorfer also saddles Life Is a Joy, who won the Charlie Palmer Futurity at Fresno last October and finished best of the rest in the King Glorious with a late four-wide move. The Globalize gelding was fifth in the Real Quiet and in the Golden State Juvenile between his Fresno score and the King Glorious effort. Corey Nakatani rides from the 2 hole as part of a 119-pound assignment.
Mike Harrington's Better Bet won the Golden State Juvenile, but was eighth in the Real Quiet and came back with a mild fourth in the King Glorious. The Southern Image colt has the outside post to contend with under Martin Pedroza and carries 122.
Paul Viskovich's Aotearoa also takes 122 under Hall of Famer Gary Stevens while trying dirt for the first time in this spot. Winner last year of the Zuma Beach Stakes on the Santa Anita lawn and the I'm Smokin Stakes on Del Mar's synthetic surface, the Good Journey gelding was sixth in the King Glorious but finished a good second in the Nov. 30 Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood lawn. He ran seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 1.
In the $200,000 California Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on the Santa Anita lawn, Mr. and Mrs. Williams will be represented by two talented homebred fillies—the Hollendorfer-trained Swiss Lake Yodeler, and the Steve Specht-conditioned Alasharchy.
The Oaks is part of a newly created Sunshine Millions California Cup Day at Santa Anita that will offer fans six stakes and 10 races overall.
By the venerable California-based Swiss Yodeler, Swiss Lake Yodeler comes off a rousing one length win in the seven furlong Soviet Problem Stakes versus state breds Dec. 21 at Hollywood and is a neck away from being undefeated in four starts.
Attentive to the pace, she was an easy 2 1/4 length winner of the one mile Golden State Juvenile Fillies Nov. 1 at Santa Anita, and will no doubt be favored with Rafael Bejarano engaged to ride her back. She drew post 13 of 14 entered, and carries co-highweight of 124.
Based at Golden Gate Fields with Specht, Alasharchy was an impressive 1 1/4-length allowance winner going one mile on turf Nov. 29. She was tagged late to finish second, beaten a half length, two starts back in the mile turf Pike Place Dancer Stakes Oct. 26.
She'll be ridden from the 4 hole by Bay Area-based Frank Alvarado, who has guided her to an overall mark of 5-2-1-0.
Reddam Racing's homebred Sprouts, third to Swiss Lake Yodeler in the Soviet Problem, may rate a seasoning edge, as she'll be making her seventh start in the Oaks. A winner of the 5 1/2-furlong CTBA Stakes at Del Mar July 19, the daughter of Square Eddie will be trying a route of ground for the first time and could make the early lead under regular pilot Mario Gutierrez.
Sprouts is trained by Edward Freeman and departs post 9 under co-highweight of 124 pounds.
Second beaten a length by Swiss Lake Yodeler in the Soviet Problem, Donald Dizney's homebred Rovenna was third three starts back to that contender in the one mile Golden State Juvenile Fillies. Trained by Mike Machowsky, Rovenna rates a big chance in the Oaks—her sixth career start.
In addition to Swiss Lake Yodeler, Hollendorfer will also saddle upstart Princess Genevieve, who was a very impressive gate-to-wire Cal-bred maiden special weight winner at odds of 4-5 going a mile on turf Jan. 9. Owned by her breeders, Hagop Nakkashian, Harry Bederian and Harout Kamberian, the Whatsthescript filly will be making her third start and will be ridden again by Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
$250,000 California Cup Derby (Race 10, approximate post 4:30 p.m. PST), Golden State Series Eligible CA-breds or CA-sired, 3YOs, 1 1/16 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Oh Billy Billy (CA), M. Garcia, 117, B Baffert
2. Life Is a Joy (CA), C.S. Nakatani, 119, J. Hollendorfer
3. Public Policy (KY), M.E. Smith, 117, J W Sadler
4. Tamarando (CA), R. Bejarano, 124, J. Hollendorfer
5. Lucky Views (CA), K.J. Desormeaux, 117, M Machowsky
6. Aoteroa (CA), G.L. Stevens, 122, L Powell
7. California Chrome (CA), V. Espinoza, 124, A Sherman
8. Awesome Return (CA), J. Talamo, 117, M Puype
9. Lawly's Goat (AZ), T. Baze, 117, K Elkeberry
10. Electric Eddie (CA), M. Gutierrez, 117, B D Cecil
11. Better Bet (CA), M.A. Pedroza, 122, M Harrington
$200,000 California Cup Oaks (Race 7, approximate post 3:00 p.m. PST), Golden State Series Eligible Ca-Breds or CA-sired fillies, 3YOs, one mile (turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Norastone (CA), A. Quinonez, 117, M W McCarty
2. Susans Express (CA), K.J. Desormeaux, 117, J Periban
3. Harlington's Rose (CA), T. Baze, 117, S Knapp
4. Alasharchy (CA), F.T. Alvarado, 117, S Specht
5. Chilada (CA), M.A. Pedroza, 117, D F O'Neill
6. Princess Genevieve (CA), M.E. Smith, 117, J Hollendorfer
7. Kukaluka (CA), G.L. Stevens, 117, P Miller
8. Sprague River (CA), J.Talamo, 117, P Miller
9. Sprouts (CA), M. Gutierrez, 124, E R Freeman
10. Royenna (CA), V. Espinoza, 117, M Machowsky
11. Water Issues (CA), M. Garcia, 117, J Mullins
12. Cal Gal (CA), I. Orozco, 117, D F O'Neill
13. Swiss Lake Yodeler (CA), R. Bejarano, 124, J Hollendorfer
14. Anniversary Kitty (CA), C.S. Nakatani, 117, C Dollase