No one could blame Chad Brown if he avoided Betfair Hollywood Park after Dayatthespa’s disastrous trip in last year’s Grade I Matriarch.
But that premise could not be further from the truth. The 34-year-old trainer chalked up the incident as a “fluky thing” and is bringing the City Zip filly back for another crack at the $250,000 Matriarch, which will be run at one mile on turf Sunday, Dec. 1.
“She was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time,” said Brown about last year’s race. “She saw something on the track and it appeared like she tried to jump the rail. They could have run that race 10 times and she would have been in a different place and never saw whatever she saw.
Weight assignments have been issued for the Grade II, $250,000 Citation Handicap, which will be run Friday, Nov. 29 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The race at 1 1/16 miles kicks off the annual Turf Festival, which culminates Sunday with a pair of Grade I events – the $250,000 Hollywood Derby and $250,000 Matriarch.
Za Approval and Indy Point were handed top imposts at 123 and 122 pounds, respectively, but the expected starting co-highweights are B. J. Wright, La Penta et al’s Jeronimo and Hronis Racing’s Vagabond Shoes. Both were assigned 120 pounds.
What could have turned into a disaster proved to be a fortunate near-miss prior to the start of Friday’s sixth race at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Just before the start of the mile and one-sixteenth turf race, Ashley’s Bambino lunged and broke through the gate, tossing jockey Alex Bisono and dragging Kyle Lopez, a member of the gate crew, several feet through the air.
Bisono escaped injury, but Lopez was lying on the grass in front of the gate in apparent pain. According to Kyle’s sister, Angel Lopez, a placing judge at Betfair Hollywood Park, her brother suffered minor bruises and was a little sore. Precautionary X-rays were negative and Kyle was back at work Saturday afternoon, much to the relief of his father, John and brother, John E., who also work on the gate crew.
When perusing the top 100 trainers in Betfair Hollywood Park history, family legacies quickly become apparent, but the best example of friendship and family are exemplified by the intertwining lives of trainers Tom Proctor, Mike Mitchell and Marty Jones.
Tom Proctor, 57, whose father Willard ranks 61st on the all-time list with 173 victories, won the final running of the Sunset Handicap closing day of the summer meeting with Marketing Mix for Glen Hill Farm. The Proctor family has trained for Glen Hill Farm since 1967.
Tom went to school in Texas and came to California to work for his dad between his junior and senior years in high school. He eventually became the groom for Convenience, another Glen Hill colorbearer, the year she captured the Grade I Vanity Handicap.
John Sadler has won titles before, but the mantle of leading trainer at this Spring/Summer Betfair Hollywood Park meeting is special.
“We’ve raced here more than 25 years,” said Sadler, who turns 57 July 30. “This is the last Summer here and it’s great to be part of history. “It’s fun to go out on top.”
Sadler clinched the title July 12. Entering Sunday’s closing day card, he has 27 victories, six more than Mike Puype and seven more than Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. His runners have finished in the top three in 81 of 144 races (56 per cent).
Handicappers trying to decipher Emollient’s form in Saturday’s Grade I, $350,000 American Oaks can take comfort in knowing they’re in the same boat as Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
Owned by breeder Juddmonte Farms, Emollient will be making her grass debut in the event at 1 ¼ miles following a roller coaster form pattern this year.
The daughter of Empire Maker started 2013 well enough with an allowance victory on a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park Feb. 16. She was sent off at 5-2 six weeks later in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks but finished fifth, 30 lengths behind runaway winner Dreaming of Julia.
Juddmonte Farms’ Emollient, winner of the Grade I Ashland April 6 at Keeneland, heads an expected field of seven for Saturday’s 12th running of the American Oaks.
A Grade I at 1 ¼ miles on turf, the $350,000 Oaks is restricted to 3-year-old fillies.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Emollient has earned $446,000. The daughter of Empire Maker has earned $446,900 while winning three of seven. She was second in the Grade II Demoiselle Stakes last Nov. 24 at Aqueduct. Most recently, she finished a troubled sixth as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade II Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico.
Baseball paragon Joe Torre, co-owner of multi-millionaire Game On Dude, will be at Betfair Hollywood Park Saturday to watch his 6-year-old gelding compete in the Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.
Torre, who races as Diamond Pride LLC, owns Game On Dude in partnership with Bernie Schiappa, Lanni Family Trust and Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable, LLC.
As Major League Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations, Torre’s schedule has limited him to seeing just a handful of Game On Dude’s races live. The last time Torre was at Betfair Hollywood Park was for Game On Dude’s victory in the 2012 Californian.
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