When Betfair Hollywood Park opens the doors Thursday for its 75th anniversary season, a slew of familiar faces from top management to numerous other departments will be manning their posts.
Vice president and general manager Eual G. Wyatt, Jr. probably has the longest ties to the Inglewood track. Wyatt, Jr.’s father, Eual G. Wyatt, Sr., was the leading trainer at the inaugural Hollywood Park meeting in 1938. Wyatt, Jr. began the first of two stints as Racing Secretary in 1979 and was promoted to his current position in 1994.
When patrons enter the track, generally the first thing they pick up is a program. The multiple page racing guide lists the runners in each race and is a collaboration between Director of Programs Craig Peterson (hired in 1991), who assembles the information, and Randy Pawling, who has printed the program since 1976.
Eblouissante, who was scratched from Saturday’s fourth race following an incident in the receiving barn, has apparently avoided serious injury.
The 3-year-old half-sister to 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta appeared fine Sunday, according to trainer John Shirreffs.
“She’s good this morning,” said a relieved Shirreffs. “It was a contusion or abrasion. It took some hair off and it’s bruised. We’re treating it topically now. We iced it about four or five times (Saturday). She’s walking good on it so we’re going to take her out and train her and see how she handles it.”
If the Grade I, $750,000 CashCall Futurity and the Grade II, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup are the main courses on Saturday’s Betfair Hollywood Park card, then the return of Zenyattta’s little sister, Eblouissante, in the fourth race – a $48,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track – is a gourmet appetizer.
The nearly black daughter of Bernardini and Vertigineux, who produced 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta and multiple Grade I winner Balance, made her long awaited debut (video) Nov. 16 and didn’t disappoint. Replicating Zenyatta’s patented stretch run, Eblouissante gathered steam into the far turn, swung out for clear sailing and drew away to win by 4 ¼ lengths under jockey Corey Nakatani.
Asked whether she has matured mentally or physically out of the race, trainer John Shirreffs said it’s a little early to say.
As usual, Bob Baffert has his sights set on the Grade I, $750,000-guaranteed CashCall Futurity, which is expected to draw a near capacity field for its 32nd running, Saturday, Dec. 15.
The Hall of Fame trainer, who has won three of the last four Futurities, including the 2011 edition with Liaison, is expected to start four, though final plans and rider assignments for the race, which will be run at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track, will be cemented in the next couple of days.
The “final four” of his 26 nominations are Jill Baffert and Bode Miller’s Carving, winner of the Real Quiet Stakes Nov. 10, Westrock Stable LLC’s Den’s Legacy, who captured the Grade III Generous Stakes on turf Nov. 24, Watson, Pegram, et al’s Really Mr Greely, upset winner of the Grade III Hollywood Prevue Nov. 22, and Gary and Mary West’s Title Contender, who set the pace in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 3.
Trainers are used to getting bills, but the Morey family produces them almost as fast.
Bill Morey, Jr., 72, has been a fixture in Northern California for decades and also has had ample success in this section of the state. When his son, William E. Morey, 38, followed in his footsteps, many couldn’t figure out who was the father and who was the son.
William Morey Jr., known at Bill, is the son of William J. Morey. When Bill’s son was about to be born, an interesting conversation took place in the car en route to the hospital.
The Grade I, $500,000-guaranteed Hollywood Starlet, which will be run Saturday at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track, could have as many as seven participants.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Executiveprivilege, a two-time Grade I winner, lost for the first time in six starts when defeated by Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 2.
Mike Smith replaces Rafael Bejarano, who had ridden the First Samurai filly in each of her previous starts. Smith worked Executiveprivilege a half mile in 47 seconds Nov. 20 at Santa Anita. The Hall of Famer rode Game On Dude to victory for Baffert in Saturday’s Native Diver Stakes.
Data Link, victorious in Friday’s Grade II Citation Handicap, came out of the race “great,” according to Jennnifer Patterson, Shug McGaughey’s assistant trainer. The 4-year-old War Front colt is scheduled to ship Monday to Payson Park in Florida to begin a brief vacation.
Trainer Mike Pender, second and fourth, respectively, with Ultimate Eagle and Jeranimo indicated both came back in good order. Ultimate Eagle will be pointed for either the San Pasqual or San Antonio during the upcoming Santa Anita Winter/Spring meet.
Travesura, who went gate-to-wire to win the Miesque at 11-1 Saturday, was reported “perfect’’ Sunday morning by trainer Jeff Mullins.
Horses have been filtering in all week for the three-day Hollywood Turf Festival, which gets under way Friday with the $65,000 Cool Air Stakes at 6 furlongs and the Grade II, $250,000 Citation Handicap at 1 1-16 miles. In the Citation, Mike Pender sends out the two morning line favorites—Jeranimo (5-2), the defending champion, and Ultimate Eagle (3-1), winner of the Grade I Hollywood Derby a year ago.
Frankel, Frankel, Laymon and Bradley Thoroughbreds’ Dayatthespa, arguably the marquee name in the Turf Festival, shipped into Betfair Hollywood Park Tuesday and will be entered Thanksgiving morning for Sunday’s Grade I, $250,000 Matriarch at one mile. The 3-year-old New York-bred daughter of City Zip has reeled off five consecutive victories for trainer Chad Brown, capped by the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Cup Oct. 13 at Keeneland. Her temporary home is in the Ron Ellis barn.
“She got in around 5:15 yesterday afternoon,” said George Abreu, Brown’s assistant trainer. “She shipped fine and everything looks good. We’ll jog her this morning (9:15 a.m.) and she will gallop Thursday and Friday.”
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