Toccet defeats Kafwain in the Hollywood Futurity.

Toccet defeats Kafwain in the Hollywood Futurity.

Benoit photo

Toccet Scores a Hollywood Hit in Futurity

Toccet can add Saturday's $406,507 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) to his growing argument for top juvenile honors in 2002.

The Kentucky-bred son of Awesome Again now holds grade one victories on both coasts – he won the Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 5 – and has captured six of eight starts, including four graded stakes. He also won the Laurel Futurity (gr. III) and the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct this year.

Toccet is the first eastern-based horse to win the Futurity since Stephan's Odyssey connected for the late Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens in 1984.

Of course, with the Eclipse Award voting all but completed, the argument is mainly academic.

Toccet's owner and breeder, Daniel Borislow, had challenged Padua Stables and trainer Bob Baffert to enter their Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) champion Vindication, the probable Eclipse 2-year-old winner, to run in the Futurity.

Instead, Baffert gave him Kafwain, his "second-stringer" who put on a tremendous stretch battle with Toccet.

Toccet, ridden by Jorge Chavez, prevailed by a head over the 6-5 favorite Kafwain, but the latter was disqualified for bumping Coax Kid turning for home and was placed fourth.

The 1 1/16-mile 2-year-old test was run in 1:41.26.

Sent off at 8-5, Toccet surprisingly took on Roll Hennessy Roll early through solid early fractions of :23.08 and :46.36. As Toccet took control of the lead at the top of the stretch, Kafwain, ridden by Victor Espinoza, was making a wide move to kick home. Kafwain took the lead by a head briefly in late stretch, but Toccet gamely battled back to grab a narrow edge for the final 100 yards.

Kafwain, the Thoroughbred Corp.'s Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up, was last in the six-horse field going down the backstretch before closing the gap on the turn. He was four wide coming out of the final turn when he cut off Coax Kid and Patrick Valenzuela to his inside while engaging a powerful stretch drive.

Domestic Dispute, a second Baffert entry, was moved up to second and Coax Kid awarded third.

"We were scared about the track, not knowing whether he would handle it," Chavez said. "He was slipping on it a little bit, but he still was fighting, and he was able to come back again in the stretch after the other one got in front of us. It was amazing. He didn't like the track, and he still won like that. He's got such a big heart. He's traveled a lot and he keeps doing it. This is an amazing horse."

Trained by John Scanlan, Borislow picked up $243,900 for the victory, swelling the 2-year-old bay colt's career earnings to $755,610. Toccet is among the leading contenders for the 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr.I).

Real Quiet, the 1997 winner, is the most recent of five Futurity graduates to go on to glory in the Run for the Roses.

Toccet, who has won three straight races since his dull 9th-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Oct. 26, was sent west by owner Daniel Borislow in a last-ditch attempt to snare the 2-year-old championship from Vindication. While the victory does not figure to be enough to sway Eclipse Award voters, it definitely enhanced Toccet's reputation.

Scanlan believes Toccet's best days are ahead.

"It was a great race today," he said. "He impressed me more than he ever has. He got hooked and he said, 'Hey, what do you think you're doing?' He just seems to get better every week."

Scanlan borrowed a set of green Hollywood Park silks when he discovered he forgot Borislow's silks

"I left them (silks) in the car," he said. "The Irish clover was in me. We wanted to ride pure green silks. The biggest race I ever won in my life was the Seneca and we forgot the silks. Maybe we'll forget the silks if we make it to the Derby."

Baffert gave credit to Chavez and Toccet and had no complaint about the disqualification of Kafwain.

"Chop Chop (Chavez), he's tough to get by," Baffert said. "What a race."

Toccet paid $5.20, $3.80 and $2.40. Domestic Dispute returned $8 and $6.20. Coax Kid paid $5.20.

(Chart, Equibase)