Jockey Mike Smith, trainer John Shirreffs, and owners/breeders Jerry and Ann Moss have one trip to the Hollywood Park winner’s circle guaranteed. They are hoping for a second with Madeo following the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) Nov. 30.
The connections will make a winner’s circle appearance when Horse of the Year candidate Zenyatta will be paraded between races on the final program of Hollywood's three-day Fall Turf Festival. Later in the afternoon the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) winner and Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) runner-up Madeo faces eight rivals on the lawn in the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Derby.
Madeo, a homebred son of Mizzen Mast , has three wins and two seconds in eight starts. Shifted to turf after finishing fourth in the Swaps (gr. II), he finished fourth in the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) in August and will be making his fourth turf start in the Hollywood Derby. It will also be the late-running colt's first test at 10 furlongs.
Contention runs deep in the Derby, which shares top billing with the $500,000 Matriarch (gr. IT) as Hollywood's 17th Turf Festival comes to a close. The Derby field includes the first three finishers from the Oak Tree Derby in Muny, Madeo, and Dixie Chatter; Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) one-two-three finishers Gio Ponti, Court Vision,and Sailor’s Cap; and Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) winner Cowboy Cal. In addition, European winners Midships and Albahri will make their North American debuts. All carry 122 pounds.
Gio Ponti, a son of Tale of the Cat owned by Castleton Lyons and trained by Christophe Clement, has been the most productive of the group on turf, winning four of seven starts and $760,800. He’s traded decisions with Court Vision, beating him by a nose in the Virginia Derby, but finishing three-quarters of a length behind him in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park. In between, he finished second to Madeo in the Del Mar Derby.
Court Vision, owned by IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm, was a leading Triple Crown contender following a victory in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) last fall. The Gulch colt finished third in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) before a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). He has found a home on turf since then and is handled by trainer Bill Mott, who shipped Paradise Creek west to win the 1992 running of the Hollywood Derby.
Cowboy Cal, trained by Todd Pletcher for Robert and Janice McNair's Magnolia Racing Stable, has won four of five starts on turf with a runner-up finish as well. By Giant's Causeway , he was also second in the Bluegrass (gr. I) at Keeneland and ninth in the Kentucky Derby. In his lone start since the Derby, he finished second on turf in the Bryan Station (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland, but was placed first through disqualification.
Muny has won three of four starts for owners Bob Bone, Don Johnson, Richard Trontz, Jim Robinson, and Brewer Racing Stable. Trained by Mike Puype, he is perfect in two turf races. The son of Najran will try to follow in defending champion Daytona’s footsteps by sweeping the Oak Tree Derby and Hollywood Derby. He led from start to finish in the 1 1/8-mile Oak Tree Derby.
Sailor’s Cap, owned by Team Valor International and trained by James Toner, cruised to a 6 3/4-length win on a soft course in the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT). Running on yielding courses, the Distant View colt won an allowance race at Keeneland and was second in the American Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
Dixie Chatter has won three of eight starts for Herman Sarkowsky and Pam and Martin Wygod. From the barn of Richard Mandella, the son of Dixie Unionwas shifted to turf two starts back, winning the Oceanside at Del Mar and finishing third — beaten three-quarters of a length — in the Oak Tree Derby.
French-bred Albahri has won three of five starts, including his last two at 1 5/16 miles. Purchased recently by Edmund Gann, he will be saddled by Patrick Biancone.
Trainer Bobby Frankel, who will aim for his fifth straight Matriarch victory with defending champion Precious Kitten and Visit earlier on the program, will send out Midships in an attempt to win a record-tying fourth Hollywood Derby. The son of Mizzen Mast ran six races at 1 1/4 miles in Great Britain with one win, three seconds, and a third.
$500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr.IT, Race 9, 4:35 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Dixie Chatter (KY), Tyler Baze
2. Court Vision (KY), Ramon A. Dominguez
3. Cowboy Cal (KY), John R. Velazquez
4. Albahri (FR), Julien R. Leparoux
5. Madeo (KY), Mike E. Smith
6. Midships (KY), Rafael Bejarano
7. Gio Ponti (KY), Garrett K. Gomez
8. Sailor's Cap (KY), Alan Garcia
9. Muny (KY), David R. Flores
Each assigned 122 pounds.