Summer Hit Heads 14 in Cal Cup Turf Classic

Summer Hit Heads 14 in Cal Cup Turf Classic
Photo: Vassar Photography
Summer Hit won the 2013 All American Handicap.

Summer Hit is the clear standout in a field of 14 entered for the $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic, one of three races for older horses included in the Sunshine Millions/California Cup lineup Jan. 25 at Santa Anita Park.

The Cal Cup Turf Classic, at nine furlongs, is race 9 on the 10-race program with a 4 p.m. PST scheduled post. The other two races for California-bred or sired horses 4 and older are the $125,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint (race 8 at 3:30 p.m.) and the $125,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint (race 5 at 2 p.m.). Those races, along with the Cal Cup Derby and Cal Cup Oaks, both for 3-year-olds, and the Santa Monica Stakes (gr. II) for older female sprinters, comprise the six stakes worth $1.15 million on the Saturday card.

A multiple stakes winner, Summer Hit is fresh for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer off a front-running six-length score in the Nov. 29 Berkeley Handicap (gr. III), earning a 103 Beyer figure over the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields.

The 5-year-old Bertrando gelding, co-owned by Hollendorfer and John Carver, has three wins, a second and a third from six starts on turf. The speedy Summer Hit was claimed by Hollendorfer as a maiden for $12,500 on Jan. 21, 2012.

In addition to the Berkeley, Summer Hit took the one mile Harry F. Brubaker Stakes Aug. 31 at Del Mar, and was a gate-to-wire winner of Golden Gate's All American Stakes (gr. III) May 27, all on synthetic tracks. Summer Hit, seeking his 10th lifetime win, breaks from the rail with leading rider Rafael Bejarano aboard.

Lucky Primo, whose last win came seven starts back in the Cal Cup Classic when run at 1 1/16 miles on dirt Oct. 13, 2012, has plenty of back class and should show good early speed for trainer and co-breeder Josh Litt.

An 8-year-old Atticus gelding, Lucky Primo has three wins, a second and two thirds from 11 tries on turf.  Owned by JBK Stable and Jason Litt, he's earned $486,650 while winning six of 22 starts. He breaks from post 3 with Martin Garcia in the irons.

Although last in the one-mile Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. IIT) Dec. 26, Tiz a Minister is one with a big closing kick and could be dangerous if a hot early pace develops in the Classic. The Paul Aguirre trainee is a 4-year-old colt by Ministers Wild Cat   owned by Sayjay Racing. He is a winner of the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) winner last June and will be ridden for the first time by Saul Arias.

Gary Barber's hard-hitting Stoney Fleece, claimed for $40,000 Dec. 6, won his first start for trainer John Sadler in a $50,000 claiming event Jan. 3 at 1 1/8 miles on the Santa Anita turf. The 5-year-old Decarchy   gelding defeated Maybe Tuesday, who drew the far outside post in the Turf Classic, by a neck.

In the Donald Valpredo Cal Cup Sprint at six furlongs on the main track, trainer Bruce Headly sends out likely favorite Cyclometer in a field of 10. The 6-year-old son of Cyclotron captured the Midnight Lute Stakes over open company Jan. 4 by three-quarters of a length in 1:08.95 for six panels. Owned and bred by Headley and his longtime partners Irwin and Andrew Molasky, Cyclometer has two wins and two seconds in his past fours starts. Mike Smith takes the return call.

Six-year-old Luckarack, a veteran of 13 wins in 40 starts with a field-best $526,395 in earnings, was reclaimed for $40,000 by trainer Ed Moger Jr. out of his most recent start, a gutsy win going 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course Dec. 26. The Lucky Pulpit   gelding will be ridden back by Martin Pedroza. Luckarack has won seven of 16 starts on the dirt.

Trainer Mark Glatt will be represented by the rapidly improving Follini, a 3 1/4-length allowance winner going six furlongs on Nov. 30. The 4-year-old Western Fame colt came back to make the lead and run a big third in a second condition allowance going 6 1/2 furlongs Jan. 3 while achieving a career-best 94 Beyer. Follini drew the rail and figures to bust it from the start for regular rider Joe Talamo.

Multiple stakes winners Marks Mine and Unusual Hottie are among the top choices in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, a race that attracted a field of 11.

Based at Golden Gate Fields and trained by Steve Specht, Marks Mine is a three-time stakes winner who comes off a facile 4 1/2-length classified allowance score going six furlongs Dec. 26. A speedy 4-year-old Benchmark filly, Marks Mine won the Golden Gate Debutante at 2, then went on to take the California State Fair Sprint Handicap at Sacramento July 20 and the six-furlong Harvest Stakes on Sept. 28 at Stockton.

Owned by breeders Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, Marks Mine was off the board in her only turf try, a one-mile classified allowance Nov. 17 at Golden Gate. A seven-time winner overall from 14 races, she breaks from gate 4 with Frank Alvarado, who has guided her to victory in four of her past five starts.

A two-time stakes winner, the Jeff Mullins-trained Unusual Hottie has been idle since well-beaten by the highly regarded Pontchatrain in the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (gr. IIIT) down the hill Nov. 2. Winless from three starts on the course, she was a close third in the California Cup Distaff in October 2012, and should be rolling late under Rafael Bejarano.  A 5-year-old mare by Unusual Heat, Unusual Hottie is owned by Seyyed M. Nilforushan.

Trainer Adam Kitchingman’s Tribal Spy comes off a gate-to-wire win in a first level allowance down the hill Dec. 29 and is drawn well in post 10. Triple B Farms' 4-year-old filly by Tribal Rule was a good second to Ponchatrain in the Unzip Me Stakes over the course Sept. 28, and will try the hill for the fourth time on Saturday.

Harris Farms' lightly raced homebred This Means War could prove dangerous as well after an impressive six furlong turf allowance win Dec. 8 at Betfair Hollywood Park. The 5-year-old War Chant mare will be bidding for her third consecutive win Saturday. Prior to her recent win she had been idle since Aug. 30, 2012. 

Trained by Dean Pederson, This Means War will be ridden by Joe Talamo, who has been aboard for all six of her career starts. She has three wins, a second and a third to her credit and drilled an impressive five furlongs on Hollywood Park’s main track in :59 4/5 Jan. 19.

$125,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint Stakes (Race 5, 2 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Kathleen Rose (CA), C S Nakatani, 120, M Machowsky
2. Journey On (CA), M A Pedroza, 120, D F O'Neill
3. Heat Du Jour (CA), P A Valenzuela, 120, B Abrams
4. Marks Mine (CA), F T Alvarado, 123, S Specht
5. Runfasterelse (CA), J Couton, 118, A Ordonez
6. Sudden Sunday (CA), T Baze, 118, S Miyadi
7. This Means War (CA), J Talamo, 120, D Pederson
8. Unusual Hottie (CA), R Bejarano, 118, J Mullins
9. Warren's Flasher (CA), A Bisono, 118, J Gutierrez
10. Tribal Spy (CA), I Orozco, 120, A Kitchingman
11. Ciao Bella Luna (KY), K J Desormeaux, 118, P Miller

$125,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint Sprint (Race 8, 3:30 p.m.), 4 & Up, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Follini (CA), J Talamo, 120, M Glatt
2. Ourwestcoastghost (CA), A Cedillo, 123, D W Baker
3. Luckarack (CA), M A Pedroza, 123, E Moger Jr.
4. Coach Bob (CA), K J Desormeaux, 118, R E Gonzalez
5. Mobilized (CA), C S Nakatani, 118, G Mandella
6. Cyclometer (CA), M E Smith, 123, B Headley
7. Lakerville (CA), A Quinonez, 118, B Abrams
8. Kate's Event (CA), V Espinoza, 118, J Hollendorfer
9. Spirit Rules (CA), I Puglisi, 120, P G Aguirre

$250,000 California Turf Cup Classic (Race 9, 4 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Summer Hit (CA), R Bejarano, 123, J Hollendorfer
2. Affrettando (CA), O Mojica, 120, M Pender
3. Lucky Primo (CA), M Garcia, 120, J M Litt
4. Empty Headed (CA), A Quinonez, 120, B Abrams
5. Huntsville (CA), M E Smith, 120, B Abrams
6. Weewinnin (CA), J Talamo, 120, B J Koriner
7. Jules Journey (KY), G L Stevens, 120, J M Cassidy
8. Tiz a Minister (CA), S Arias, 123, P G Aguirre
9. China Prince (CA), C S Nakatani, 120, C Dollase
10. Unusual Meeting (CA), F T Alvarado, 120, S Specht
11. Stoney Fleece (CA), V Espinoza, 120, J W Sadler
12. Hittheroadrunning (CA), T Baze, 120, E Moger Jr.
13. Jonny's Choice (CA), P A Valenzuela, 120, D Warren
14. Maybe Tuesday (CA), K J Desormeaux, 120, R B Hess Jr.

Most Popular Stories