Trainer Frank Monteleone hopes that the Cinderella story for Rio Oro can continue Saturday in the $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint.
The son of Oraibi has climbed the ladder from the low claiming ranks. He won last year's Cal Cup Starter Sprint one of his 14 victories from 31 starts. The 7-year-old gelding led into the stretch in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) on Oct. 5 before fading to fifth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths. But he'll be back with his friends on Saturday.
"He's real," Monteleone said. "He's going to run the same race. If they go by him, they're going to beat him. But he's doing good. He throws the same race every time, it seems like. Everything's a bonus for us with this horse, and we're excited to run his half-brother, Giovannetti, in the Starter Sprint. We really think he's going to turn out to be a really nice horse."
Rio Oro, carrying 119 pounds, is the co-high weight in the field of eight, along with Stormy Jack, the possible favorite, and El Dorado Shooter.
Kent Desormeaux will ride Rio Oro. They are perfect together.
"Desormeaux is one-for-one on him," Monteleone said. "He won the Cal Cup Starter on him last year and that's the only time he rode him." $150,000 California Cup Sprint, 6 furlongs, 3 & up
1. Stormy Jack, David Flores, 119
2. Rio Oro, Kent Desormeaux, 119
3. Unlimited Value, Patrick Valenzuela, 115
4. El Dorado Shooter, Ronald Warren, Jr., 119
5. Con Quixote, Alex Solis, 116
6. McCordnskuba, Isaias Enriquez, 115
7. Treasured Note, Laffit Pincay, Jr., 112
8. Ride And Shine, Iggy Puglisi, 114