Court Vision surged from last in the stretch to win the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) (VIDEO), giving jockey Ramon Dominguez a sweep of both grade I stakes on the Hollywood Park turf course Nov. 30.
Two races earlier, Dominguez captured the $500,000 Matriarch (gr. I) with a closing rush aboard Cocoa Beach on the final day of the Inglewood track's three-day fall turf festival.
Owned by IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm, Court Vision earned his first grade I victory and went over the $1- million mark in career earnings for trainer Bill Mott. The son of Gulch defeated eight 3-year-old rivals in the 1 1/4-mile event, clocking a final time of 2:01.43.
Court Vision saw all the heels after tailing off to trail the field into the clubhouse turn. That's where the dark bay colt remained before moving up on the outside rounding the final turn. Court Vision was still last in upper stretch, but had nothing but open ground in front of him as he closed powerfully on the far outside.
He caught Cowboy Cal, ridden by John Velazquez, in deep stretch to win by three-quarters of a length. It was three-parts of a length farther back to third-place finisher Midships, who was guided by Rafael Bejarano in the gray colt's first American start for trainer Bobby Frankel.
Muny set the early pace as Cowboy Cal and Dixie Chatter tracked in second and third, respectively. Gio Ponti , the lukewarm 3-1 favorite, and Sailor's Cap were right behind them as the race unfolded with pedestrian fractions of :25.10 for the opening quarter mile, :49.41 for the half, and 1:13.40 for six furlongs.
The pace picked up on the turn as Muny continued to lead into the stretch and Cowboy Cal turned up the heat. Gio Ponti, caught between several horses, had nowhere to run as Court Vision swept past the field in an impressive display.
"I was concentrating on getting my horse to relax," said Dominguez, who rode two winners at the 2004 turf festival. "I didn't really want to be that far back. Ideally I would have been laying closer, but at the same time he was carrying himself well. Looking back, if I knew they were going that slow I would have been worried."
Court Vision, the second choice at odds of 7-2, was coming off a three-quarter-length win over Gio Ponti in Belmont Park's Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) at nine furlongs Oct. 4. He had been training at Florida's Payson Park, where he will return overnight.
The dark bay colt began the year on the Triple Crown trail. He lost six consecutive races after completing his 2-year-old campaign with a win in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct. Included was a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
"I think the switch in surfaces has helped him," said Kenny McCarthy, Mott's assistant. "I think the dirt kind of pulls him a bit more. The grass is not so hard on him."
Overall, Court Vision is 5-2-2 in 12 starts with earnings of $1,006,400 after collecting $300,000 for the Hollywood Derby win. He is two-for-four on turf.
Bred in Kentucky by W.S. Farish and Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership, Court Vision is out of the Storm Bird mare Weekend Storm and cost $350,000 at Fasig-Tipton Florida's sale in February 2007.
Court Vision paid $9.60, $4.60, and $3.
Cowboy Cal, coming off a win by disqualification in the Bryan Station (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland Oct. 12 for trainer Todd Pletcher, returned $6.60 and $5.20, completing a $2 exacta worth $52.60.
"He ran super," said Pletcher, who plans to point Cowboy Cal to the Strub series at Santa Anita. "We couldn't be more pleased with his effort. We were just second best on the day."
The closing Midships was $7.60 to show.
Dixie Chatter ran fourth, followed by Muny, Albahri, Gio Ponti, Madeo, and Sailor's Cap.