A competitive and well-matched field of eight will contest the 25th edition of the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) Saturday at Hollywood Park. Searching for a favorite here is a tricky task, but the bettors could land on Olmodavor based on pedigree and connections.
Olmodavor is a 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt who hails from the barn of Breeders' Cup hero Richard Mandella. Although he has yet to taste victory this year, Olmodavor finished second behind top handicap runner Mineshaft in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) in March, and was likewise the bridesmaid to Medaglia d'Oro in the Strub Stakes (gr. II) last winter. After nearly eight months on the bench, Olmodavor ran fifth in a pricey optional claimer in late October.
Laura de Seroux sends out the lightly raced Total Impact, a 5-year-old by Stuka. Total Impact is coming off an impressive victory in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II), in which he defeated the 1-2 in last year's Native Diver, Piensa Sonando and Fleetstreet Dancer. The problem was, that race came nearly seven months ago, and Total Impact, with just 10 lifetime starts, will need to fire big fresh in this spot.
Chinkapin has turned into a monster for trainer Mike Mitchell since he claimed the son of Personal Flag for $50,000 at Del Mar in July. The 7-year-old gelding captured the Pomona Invitational at Fairplex in September and came right back to land a solid second in the Seabiscuit Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard.
The outside horse is Nose The Trade, trained by Bobby Frankel for Gary Tanaka. The 5-year-old by Cyrano de Bergerac threw in a clunker in the Seabiscuit, but he was a troubled third in this race a year ago and Frankel is hitting with better than one-third of his starters.
The field for the Native Diver, in post position order with jockeys and weights:
1) Legendary Weave (Martin Pedroza, 114)
2) Olmodavor (Alex Solis, 117)
3) Gift of the Eagle (Victor Espinoza, 115)
4) Chinkapin (Corey Nakatani, 118)
5) Total Impact (Mike Smith, 118)
6) Tenaja Trail (Tyler Baze, 112)
7) Buckland Manor (Julie Krone, 112)
8) Nose The Trade (Pat Valenzuela, 115)