Sarafan Tunes Up for Possible Japan Cup Start

Sarafan, prepping for a planned start in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) on Nov. 30, captured a $54,000 classified allowance event in a tune-up at Hollywood Park Thursday.

Carrying the top weight of 123 pounds in a field of five, Sarafan covered the 1 1/8 miles on the turf in 1:49 1/5 and paid $3.00, $2.40 and $2.10.

Pacesetter Justice Minister, ridden by David Flores at 117 pounds, held on for second and paid $7.80 and $2.10. Mountain Range paid $2.10 to show.

Turning for home Sarafan, ridden by Victor Espinoza, came through on the rail to take the lead at the eighth pole and coasted home under moderate encouragement to win by a length.

The 6-year old gelding, scratched from the Breeder's Cup Mile (gr. IT) last month by trainer Neil Drysdale due to a low blood count, was making his first start since finishing second by a half-length to Designed for Luck in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Oct. 5.

Sarafan, a winner of nine of 35 starts with 23 in-the-money performances, picked up a purse of $32,400 and increased his career earnings to $2,386,885. He lost the Japan Cup by a nose to Falbrav last year.

Espinoza won four races Thursday on consecutive mounts after winning the last race on the Hollywood Park card Tuesday, giving him five straight victories. He finally lost in the sixth race.

Thursday marked the fourth time Espinoza has won four races on a single card at Hollywood Park, and he now leads the jockeys' standings with six wins just two days into the meet.

(Chart, Equibase)