Plenty of Fresh Faces in Turf Cup

A quintet of newcomers, two of them trained by Bobby Frankel, is among a field of eight contesting the $250,000 Turf Cup (gr. I) on the Hollywood Park grass course Dec. 8.

Frankel plans to start Juddmonte Farms' homebred Champs Elysees, a full brother to champions Intercontinental and Banks Hill and grade I winner Cacique, as well as Brazilian grade I victor Heroi Do Bafra, who will be moving up for owner T N T Stud in the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup. Frankel is a threat anytime he enters the Turf Cup, which the Hall of Fame conditioner has won three times since 1997, tying Charlie Whittingham and Richard Mandella for the most victories all-time.

Other California newcomers in the Turf Cup are Gary Tanaka's Sudan, a group I winner in Italy in June making his U.S. debut for trainer Michael Jarvis; Aaron and Marie Jones' multiple grade II winner Sunriver; and the Irish invader Chief Running Bear, a winner of two of three U.S. starts for Graham Motion.

In addition, the Turf Cup attracted local turf mainstays Obrigado and Spring House, as well as Florida transplant Tissy Fit, coming off a half-length win in the Tanforan on a yielding Golden Gate Fields' turf course Nov. 10 for trainer Paula Capestro. All starters will carry 126 pounds.

Champs Elysees figures to draw much attention in his American debut, given the 4-year-old's royal breeding (by Danehill out of the Kahyasi mare Hasili) and his second-place finish in the 12-furlong Gran Premio Del Jockey Club (Ity-I) at Milan in his last start Oct. 14. Champs Elysees, who joined the Frankel barn last month, won a group III effort at Longchamps in May for trainer Andre Fabre.

Heroi Do Bafra, a 5-year-old Brazilian-bred horse, rallied to finish second in the Seabiscuit Handicap at Bay Meadows Nov. 3 in his fourth U.S. start. That followed an eight-month layoff. He was a grade I winner at 1 1/2 miles on turf in his native country in April 2006.

Rafael Bejarano will ride Heroi Do Bafra in the Turf Cup while Julien Leparoux has the call on Champs Elysees.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has amassed record national earnings of $27.4 million this year, brings the front-running Sunriver into the Turf Cup fray, part of a 45-horse contingent the multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer is keeping at Hollywood Park this season.

Winner of the Peter Pan (gr. II) and third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) as a 3-year-old last year, the Saint Ballado colt has not missed a beat since being transferred to the turf this spring. He won the Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) in July then ran fourth in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) before placing second in Belmont's Man O' War (gr. IT) this summer. In his last start, the Jones' homebred finished sixth, although defeated by only 2 1/2 lengths, in the Canadian International (Can-I) at Woodbine Oct. 21.

“The ground was a little soft at Woodbine, but not too bad,” said Pletcher. “He had no excuses. It was a decent race.” Regular rider Garrett Gomez has the mount.

Sudan, winner of the Gran Premio di Milano (Ity-I), has cleared quarantine after flying into Southern California over the weekend. Based at Newmarket in England with Jarvis, the 4-year-old colt will be saddled by assistant Dawn Robinson. He is stabled with Frankel.

After a number of close calls in stakes company on the local turf circuit this year, the Julio Canani trainee Spring House broke through with a dominant 2 1/4-length triumph in the 1 1/2-mile Carleton F. Burke Handicap (gr. IIIT) during Oak Tree's Santa Anita meeting Oct. 28. R.D. Hubbard owns the 5-year-old Chester House gelding.

Obrigado is winless in five starts since taking the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) for trainer Neil Drysdale in February. He showed some life in his most recent start, a second-place finish in a nine-furlong allowance race on the Hollywood turf Nov. 17.

Earle I. Mack's Chief Running Bear has won back-to-back turf starts, most recently defeating allowance foes in a 1 1/2-mile race at Keeneland Oct. 26.

$250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT, Race 5, 2:32 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Obrigado (FR), Joseph Talamo
2. Champs Elysees (GB),     Julien R. Leparoux
3. Sunriver (KY), Garrett K. Gomez
4. Tissy Fit (KY), Clinton L. Potts
5. Heroi Do Bafra (BRZ), Rafael Bejarano
6. Chief Running Bear (KY), Corey S. Nakatani
7. Spring House (KY), Tyler Baze
8. Sudan (IRE), Patrick A. Valenzuela
Each assigned 126 pounds.

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