The names of 85 of some of California's best runners passed through the
entry box for Saturday's California Cup XVII, the final Saturday program for the 2006 Oak Tree at Santa Anita fall season. The 10-race state-bred event offers purses of more than $1.3 million to the best runners bred in the Golden State.While trainer Dan Hendricks has sent dual grade I winner and top Cal-bred Brother Derek to Kentucky for the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) - Powered by Dodge, the conditioner will still be saddling the favorite for the $250,000 Cal Cup Classic - presented by Smith Barney -in Jeff and Lance Hayes and Dan and Jerry Higman's Top This and That. Searching for his first career stakes victory, Top This and That was labeled the 5-2 early favorite fresh off his fast-closing second in the $123,000 Ralph M. Hinds Invitational Handicap at Fairplex Park last month.Veteran jockey Alex Solis will be in the irons aboard the gelded 4-year-old son of Old Topper, who also finished second in the Strub Stakes (gr. II) over the Santa Anita main track earlier this year."It's a competitive field but he should fit well with the speed in the race," Hendricks said.Other notable runners in the nine-runner field, which is the ninth race on the afternoon's 11-race program, include 2005 Snow Chief Stakes winner Robador, a gelded son of Robannier who owns two impressive allowance victories this year; and millionaire Texcess, a 4-year-old son of In Excesswho is searching for his first victory since capturing the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes nearly two years ago."He's training very, very well. He's fit, he's ready and he ought to run the race of his life," trainer Eoin Harty said of Robador.The complete field for the Cal Cup Classic, in post position order with jockeys, weights and morning line odds, will be: McNasty, Tyler Baze, 113, 30-1; Robador, David Cohen, 116, 4-1; Seven Nation Army, Martin Garcia, 118, 10-1; Cheroot, Martin Pedroza, 116, 8-1; King Mobay, David Flores, 113, 12-1; Iced Out, Garrett Gomez, 112, 5-1; American All Star, Patrick Valenzuela, 115, 15-1; Top This and That, Alex Solis, 116, 5-2, and Texcess, Victor Espinoza, 118, 3-1.The connections of last year's Cal Cup Classic winner McCann's Mojave opted not to race the 6-year-old son of Memo in defense of his title in the nine-furlong main track event and instead entered him in the John C. Mabee Cal Cup Mile. With only three races in 2006, owners Mike Willman and Alix Nikki Hunt and trainer Paddy Gallagher decided the distance of the mile turf event was better suited to the horse this year. Jose Valdivia Jr. has once again accepted the call and the pair will break from the rail in the 12-horse field. Grade I-winning sprinter Unfurl the Flag, coming off a win, a second, and a third from three grass starts this year, will carry highweight of 121 pounds in the $175,000 event.The field for the John C. Mabee Cal Cup Mile, which is the eighth race on the card, with jockeys and weights and in post position order, will be McCann's Mojave, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118; Sharp Marc, Pedroza, 114; Super Strut, Tyler Baze, 119; Epic Power, Corey Nakatani, 116; El Don, Solis, 119; Sea Battle, Gomez, 110; K. C. Nite Mayr, Espinoza, 117; Running Free, Aaron Gryder, 116; Charmvictor, Cohen, 114; Mr. Playwright, Luis Hernandez, 110; Unfurl the Flag, Jon Court, 121, and Drake's Victory, Valenzuela, 119.The $100,000 Cal Cup Distance Handicap, which has been carded as the day's fifth race, marks the end of an impressive career for Don Van Racing's Moscow Burning, who will head to the breeding shed next year as the Golden State's richest distaffer of all time. The daughter of Moscow Ballet, who was claimed for $25,000 out of her fourth career start, has banked $1,411,800 overall from 32 races, which includes victories in the 2003 and 2005 runnings of the 1 ¼-mile Cal Cup Distance Handicap for turf fillies and mares. Trained by Jim Cassidy, the 6-year-old mare won six lifetime stakes races, including the 2004 Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park.Leatherman Racing and Ran Jan Racing's downhill turf specialist Cambiocorsa will attempt to stretch her unbeaten streak on the unique grass course to nine when she faces seven fillies and mares in the $150,000 John Deere Cal Cup Distaff. The 4-year-old daughter of Avenue of Flags, who won the Senator Ken Maddy Handicap (gr. IIIT) in her last start, has racked up a career line of 9-0-2 from 15 starts for leading trainer Doug O'Neill. The gray filly will once again have regular rider Jon Court in the irons for the 6 ½-furlong event."She's a lot of fun, and I feel honored to be able to ride her," Court said. "Doug O'Neill has got her on her game. When she relaxes on the lead, she's got a kick at the end that is unbelievable."A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) heroine Somethinaboutlaura is the 120-pound highweight among seven entrants in the $150,000 TOC/CTT Matron, which has been carded as the fourth race. The 4-year-old daughter of Dance Floorwill face six formidable rivals in the 1 1/16-mile main track event.A field of eight will head postward in the $150,000 Dodge/Donald Valpredo Sprint, a six-furlong main track affair that has been carded as the afternoon's sixth race. Breaking from the innermost post position will be Manzani and Sarno's Areyoutalkintome, a winner of nine of 38 career starts for earnings of $845,955. Doug O'Neill trains the 5-year-old gelded son of Smokester.First post for the annual Cal Cup program is 12 noon and there will be a $1 million guaranteed Pick Six on races six through 11.