Last week, it was the two-year-old fillies in the spotlight at Hollywood Park over the weekend. This week, the two-year-old colts and geldings get their chance in the Grade 1 $750,000 CashCall Futurity. Here is the analysis:
#1 Handsome Mike- 2nd in the Grade 3 Generous on the grass on November 27 at Hollywood. Broke the maiden in a 6 1/2 furlong turf sprint at Santa Anita the time before. Corey Nakatani will be the fourth different rider this colt has had in four different starts.
#2 Brother Francis- Still a maiden, but was competitive in both prior appearances. He finished second in each and closed from off the pace each time. I would expect him to come running late, which is odd since his Sire was the usually front-running Lion Heart.
#3 Groovin' Solo- The second of the two maidens in this field of thirteen. He has not quite caught the eye like #2 has so far. No top threes in two tries at Del Mar and has been away from the races since August. I think I will pass on this Bob And John offspring.
#4 Empire Way- Broke the maiden over the Cushion track of Hollywood on November 13 and followed it up with a sixth in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue, ending up behind the maiden #2. Even with Joel Rosario at the controls, I believe this one will make me look elsewhere.
#5 Drill- Won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on September 7 and has done pretty much nil since then. Finished up the track in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Delta Jackpot. The horse that was once considered the class of the Bob Baffert two-year-olds is turning into more and more of a question mark as he moves forward.
#6 Sky Kingdom- Broke the maiden following a layoff last time out at Hollywood on November 24 at this distance. Posted a six-furlong bullet workout on December 11. It appears to me that the longer this Empire Maker goes, the better he will be. Garrett Gomez is up for Bob Baffert.
#7 Blingo- The same connections that campaigned the great Zenyatta are behind this gelding that overcame a slow start to win going away last time out on November 25 at one mile on the turf. Will he take to the Cushion track in the same way? We will just have to see how it goes.
#8 Rousing Sermon- Has hit the board in all five previous starts, but four of those were in state-bred California races. The last one was a second in the ungraded Real Quiet on November 12 at this distance at Hollywood. Joe Talamo teams up with Jerry Hollendorfer on this one.
#9 Liaison- The third of the Baffert runners in this field won that aforementioned Real Quiet at Hollywood. He also broke the maiden two back at seven furlongs on the regular dirt of Santa Anita. Seems like a very versatile horse, as well he should be. He was a $290K purchase at Keeneland in September 2010.
#10 Cozzetti- As much as I loved his Sire, Cozzene, back in the day, I am hard-pressed to find this one with a real possibility here. His win came over a sloppy surface at Churchill Downs and the other two efforts were not much to write home about over the turf.
#11 Majestic City- Set the early pace in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf before essentially crashing and burning to finish 13th. Blinkers will be taken off today in an effort to improve that performance. Ramon Dominguez leaves his thriving Aqueduct business for the day to head west and pilot him here.
#12 Basmati- Second to Sabercat in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot on November 19. Prior to that, he had seemed overmatched by the likes of Drill and Majestic City in Southern California. Has been to the post seven times and has just one win to show for it.
#13 Desmorais- Scored a win a 1 1/4 miles at Marseille in France last time out over the synthetic surface there. Appears to be the mystery horse in the bunch here, although will have the riding services of the dependable David Flores.
TOP FOUR SELECTIONS: 9-8-11-1
Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!