Racketeer, runner-up to Heatseeker in last year's Native Diver Handicap (gr. III), makes a one-week turnaround for trainer Barry Abrams in this year's $100,000-added renewal of the 1 1/8-mile Cushion Track event Dec. 6 at Hollywood Park.
The 5-year-old son of Awesome Again comes out of a second-place showing behind front-running California Flag in the six-furlong Hollywood Turf Express (gr. IIIT) during the Inglewood track's Turf Festival Nov. 29.
"The race was a good workout," said Abrams, who is also part-owner of Racketeer. "There was no pace and nobody had a chance to close."
Eight are entered in the Native Diver, with Racketeer, breaking from post 5 under Chantal Sutherland, carrying a feathery 112 pounds. He is winless in nine starts this year but seems to be rounding back into form.
The starting high weight at 119 pounds is Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor's Ball Four. The 7-year-old Grand Slam gelding is coming off a gate-to-wire, 1 1/2-length win in the Fayette Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland Oct. 25 for trainer Todd Pletcher.
That was just the second start of the year for Ball Four, who was out of action for more than 18 months before returning in September. He won the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) at Turfway Park in 2006 and has earned $609,520 in his career. Mike Smith rides.
Past the Point, second-place finisher to Curlin in Saratoga's Woodward (gr. I) this summer, ran fifth as the favorite in the Meadowlands Cup (gr. II) in his last start Oct. 3.
“It was a ridiculous pace that night,” said trainer Eoin Harty of the 1 1/8-mile Meadowlands race, in which his 4-year-old Darley Stable ridgling engaged in a speed duel of :45.91 to the half after being bumped at the start.
Past the Point, seeking his first stakes win, has won on Arlington Park's Polytrack racing surface, but disappointed in two subsequent tries on synthetic tracks.
“He has been training well,” said Harty. “He’s very fit, and we expect him to run accordingly.” The son of Indian Charlie, based at Santa Anita, has had seven workouts since the Meadowlands race.
Rafael Bejarano rides Past the Point for the first time since guiding him to a third-place finish in the 2007 Super Derby (gr. II).
Spring House, a two-time grade II winner on grass this year, switches to the Cushion Track following a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) for trainer Julio Canani. A seven-time winner in 35 starts, the 6-year-old Chester House gelding leads the field in earnings with $733,284.
The Maryland shipper Galantas, scratched from Friday's Citation Handicap (gr. IT) by trainer H. Graham Motion, guns for his first stakes win. The 5-year-old son of Tale of the Cat was placed third after being disqualified from second in the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Hawthorne turf in his last outing Sept. 27.
Also in the field is the 3-year-old Slew's Tiznow, a three-length winner of Del Mar's El Cajon Stakes who most recently ran 10th in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile; grade II victor Zappa, seventh in the Breeders' Cup Marathon; and recent Hollywood allowance winner Barber.
$100,000 Native Diver Handicap (gr. III, Race 6, 3:04 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Slew's Tizzy (KY), 115, Joel Rosario
2. Barber (KY), 114, Pedro Arambula
3. Spring House (KY), 118, Julien R. Leparoux
4. Past the Point (KY), 117, Rafael Bejarano
5. Racketeer (KY), 112, Chantal Sutherland
6. Galantas (KY), 117, Victor Espinoza
7. Ball Four (KY), 119, Mike E. Smith
8. Zappa (KY), 116, Tyler Baze