Trotamondo, right, outduels Bully Hayes to win the Native Diver Handicap, Saturday at Hollywood Park.

Trotamondo, right, outduels Bully Hayes to win the Native Diver Handicap, Saturday at Hollywood Park.


Chilean Star Trotamondo Nabs Native Diver

Chilean-bred Trotamondo, making just his second start after 11 months off for trainer Laura de Seroux, bulled his way from last to get lead in the final stages and win the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park Saturday.

Sent off as the favorite in the 10-horse field, Trotamondo, ridden by Garrett Gomez, caught Spellbinder inside the sixteenth pole and held off a determined Bully Hayes, who rallied on the outside of the winner, for a half-length victory. Bully Hayes, with Alex Solis aboard, nipped an unlucky Spellbinder and Martin Pedroza for the second spot. Preachinatthebar tired late to finish fourth in the 1 1/8-mile event, which was run in 1:49 4/5.

The Triple Crown winner in his native Chile last year, Trotamondo had only one start since transferring to de Seroux's care this year, rallying for second in his prep race after breaking outward and tailing off by 18 lengths on a wet-fast Hollywood Park surface Nov. 9.

Saturday, the 4-year-old son of Hussonet was well back on the far turn after earlier trailing the field as Spellbinder opened up a big advantage after pressing early fractions of :22 2/5, :46 and 1:10 2/5 and taking over the lead from front-running Coronado's Pride. Trotamondo split horses a couple of times as he mounted his charge but appeared to be in trouble as he attempted to squeeze between Bully Hayes and Preachinatthebar in the stretch. He fought through that, however, and Trotamondo and Bully Hayes dueled all the way to the wire, just getting past Spellbinder, racing on the inside, in the process.

"It takes a heck of a special horse to win the Triple Crown, to show the consistency that he showed last year, and to be named the horse of the year as a 3-year-old," de Seroux said. "So I think he is the best thing we've had on our hands since Azeri. That's what we've been feeling lately. After that first race – with the run that he made – it confirmed our hopes."

Both De Seroux and Gomez would have preferred a smoother race for Trotamondo.

"That wasn't the trip I had planned on," Gomez said. "I thought I'd be back there by myself. As we started to pick up horses at the five-eighths pole, I was sandwiched between horses, not where I wanted to be. I was having to ask him to do things I didn't want to have to do. Instead of one run, I had to ask him for two, three, four runs during this race. It takes a very good horse to do that.

"His margin of victory might not have been very far, but he was a lot more impressive for the way he did it," Gomez added. "I think this horse could be any kind of horse. It's hard to judge them, coming from another country. But coming off a year's layoff to run the way he did the first time, and then to win like this, it takes a good horse to do this."

De Seroux was relieved with the result.

"I hate for a horse to have to run through that much dirt and breathe it in," she said. "I thought down the backside that Garrett was in a position to stay clear on the outside, but he had to weave his way through and encounter some traffic trouble. But this horse has a lot of heart and managed to get it done."

Solis had no complaints aboard the runner-up, who was only starting for the seventh time.

"He ran a winning race, but the winner was best today," he said. "My horse did everything I could have hoped for."

Trotamondo, who carried 117 pounds to victory, earned $60,000 for his owners, a partnership headed by Liliana Solari of Chile, and improved his career record to 6-4-1 in 12 starts with a bankroll of $229,343. The chestnut colt won three group I races in succession last year – the Dos Mil Guineas, the Gran Criterium, and the Chilean St. Leger.

He paid $5.60, $3.20, and $3 as the 9-5 favorite. Bully Hayes, making his stakes debut for owner/trainer Bruce Headley, returned $5.80 and $4.80, completing a $41.60 exacta. Spellbinder, $8 to show, rounded out a $386.80 trifecta.

(Chart, Equibase)