Favorite Worldly outran Silent Soul and Mayor Bozarth through the stretch as jockey Victor Espinoza registered his third Will Rogers Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) victory in Saturday’s one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park.
The victory was the second in as many U.S. starts for Great Britain-bred Worldly, who was clocked in 1:35.19 while paying $5.20, $3 and $2.40. He earned his first graded stakes victory in the $108,200 event. Silent Soul, a half-length back under Michael Baze, returned $3.40 and $2.40. Major Bozarth, just a nose behind in third under Brice Blanc, paid $3.40.
While form held true in the Will Rogers, Jon Court connected on 60-1 shot Cayambe one race earlier, setting up a Pick Six carryover of $202,496 on Sunday. The win pay-off was a meeting-high $123.20.
Worldly, who won his U.S. debut in an allowance April 8 at Santa Anita, was well back early Saturday, but was all business when it counted. He rallied three wide around the final turn and stormed down the middle of the course in the stretch to win under urging as both Silent Soul and Mayor Bozarth finished well.
"He just loves to run,” said Espinoza, who previously rode Will Rogers winners Purely Cozzene (2000) and Private Chef (2003). “He's got a lot of talent and every race he's improving. His first race (in this country) was good and now he's shown he can compete with the good horses.
“The way the race came up we lost some ground, but it makes no difference,” Espinoza added. “It might even be better for him because he feels free to run.”
Worldly, a gray gelding by Selkirk trained by Ben Cecil for Christopher Wright, banked $64,920 to boost his earnings to $112,043. The victory was the third in five starts for Worldly, who broke his maiden on Polytrack at Wolverhampton last summer.
“He has shown a lot in the mornings and I was pretty confident today,” Cecil said. “In his workouts he gets out in front and messes around, he is still a big baby with a lot of talent. Once he understands what this is all about I think he has a pretty bright future. He was nice and relaxed and was much better in the paddock this time. He got quite stirred up last time at Santa Anita, so I was pretty happy the way everything went today.”
Baze had no complaints aboard the runner-up.
"He ran hard . . . got the inside trip and everything,” he said. “The winner had to go wide. This horse relaxes himself. Maybe we'll get (Worldly) next time."
Hurry Home Warren, who led by up to four lengths while setting a realistic pace (:23 2/5, :47 1.5, 1:12) and continued to show the way to deep stretch, wound up fourth, followed by Yario and Candy's Bro. Sevengoldnmissiles and Laddies Poker scratched.
David Flores, who rode fifth-place finisher Yario in the Will Rogers, piloted two winners earlier including Selvatica in the $76,600 Desert Stormer. He is just one win shy of the 3,000-mark for his career.
Selvatica, owned by Marsha Naify and trained by Julio Canani, posted her seventh career win while cruising to victory in the Desert Stormer. The lightly-raced 6-year-old mare has been first or second in 11 of 12 starts.