Allowed to trail the field into the far turn, Lucayan charged to victory over favored Temeraine in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IIT) Dec. 14 for his first win since the 2012 French Two Thousand Guineas (VIDEO) .
The French-bred Lucayan, winning for the first time in seven North American appearances, gave Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale his first-ever victory in the 31-year-old Turf Cup, run for the last time at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The Turf Cup was the first of three graded stakes on the Hollywood card that is anchored by the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I).
Lucayan, back on firm turf following a ninth-place finish in the Canadian International (Can-IT) over yielding sod at Woodbine Oct. 27, ended a personal nine-race losing streak dating back to his victory at 27-1 odds in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I, French Two Thousand Guineas) May 13, 2012.
"We felt that it was just too fast for him in this country to go a mile and he really needed nine or 10 (furlongs)," said Drysdale. "But there weren’t any races at those distances, which kind of pushed us into running him longer. My heart was going a little boom, boom, boom because they were going so slow, but this horse is talented."
Sent off as the close 17-10 second choice in the field of six, Lucayan covered the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2:26.14 with Joel Rosario aboard for the first time, winning by half a length. The 4-year-old son of Turtle Bowl out of the Grand Lodge mare La Vltava was bred by Jean Pierre Columbo and is raced by Pandora Stud.
Segway, showed the way under Mike Smith as expected in the marathon event, with 7-5 pick Temeraine stalking the leader for Gary Stevens on the outside of Artic North. Lucayan, breaking from the outside post, sat at the rear early while racing outside of Irish Surf . The opening half-mile went in :50.14, with six furlongs in 1:14.21, and the mile in 1:38.49. They reached the quarter pole in 2:02.13 with Temeraine zeroing in on Segway and Lucayan beginning to wind up his run on the far outside.
Temeraine took a narrow advantage nearing mid-stretch but was quickly challenged by Lucayan, who swept past the rest of the field while lugging in a bit for Rosario. Under left-handed urging, Lucayan put his head in front in the final 100 yards and proved best over a game Temeraine, who fought to the wire.
"He was traveling well, but I had to keep after him," Rosario said. "He is one paced and can get a little lazy, but I knew that if I kept after him we would eventually catch (Temeraine) and we got it done."
It was 2 1/4 lengths back to Segway in third, followed by Irish Surf, Artic North, and Huntsville.
Lucayan earned $150,000 for his fourth lifetime win in 15 starts, boosting his career earnings to $659,858. The bay colt was trained in France by Francois Rouhat, winning twice in eight starts in Europe. Lucayan ran second in the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) and third in the John Henry Turf Championship (gr. IIT) this summer.
"The key to this guy is getting him to relax and (Rosario) did a lovely job of relaxing him," said Drysdale after notching his 83rd career stakes win at Hollywood, good for seventh place all-time. "He's had an unlucky year. At Del Mar, he tried to come up the middle and got stopped. In the John Henry he also got stuck. And then in Canada, it was just a bog and he couldn't handle it."
The winner carried 120 pounds and paid $5.40, $2.80, and $2.40. Temeraine, the 122-pound highweight, returned $2.80 and $2.20, completing a chalky $14.40 exacta. Segway was $2.60 to show.