Bob Baffert won his record sixth G1-CashCall Futurity (and third in the last three years) when Liaison, 5/1 at post time, edged out Rousing Sermon by a neck at Hollywood Park on Saturday afternoon (video below). It was the second race in a row that Liaison bested Rousing Sermon at Hollywood..
Majestic City, the post time favorite at 3/1, didn't have any excuses for not winning, other than the fact that he just wasn't good enough on Saturday. While the pace was honest, the winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship was sitting in the garden spot for the first six furlongs but couldn't find anything else in the tank when the field turned for home. Drill, in what was another poor performance in a string of disappointments, finished up better than Majestic City, even though he was pushed harder in the early going. Drill has now finished 10th, 7th and 9th in his last three races.
Liaison didn't have the best of trips when you consider that he was pinned down behind Handsome Mike and Drill with Majestic City to his outside as the field rounded the far turn. Once the trio of leaders spit the bit and faded to the rear of the field, Liaison commenced a grinding run towards the finish, holding off Rousing Sermon by a neck at the wire.
Brother Francis, Sky Kingdom and Empire Way all made good runs from the back of the pack to grab the 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions. With the exception of the winner, horses that were running 1st through 5th at the half-mile mark finished 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th. Liaison was 4th after a half.
My choice, Blingo, made a decent run from well back in the later stages but never seriously threatened any of the top finishers. However, he did transfer his turf form fairly well to Hollywood's synthetic surface, giving trainer John Shirreffs a lot of options with this colt going forward.
Liaison is a two-year-old son of Indian Charlie out of a Victory Gallop mare (Galloping Gal). Prior to winning the CashCall Futurity, Liason scored a win against Maiden Special Weight company at Santa Anita in mid-October, followed by a half-length victory over Rousing Sermon in the ungraded Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood on Nov. 12th. It remains to be seen how far this colt wants to run, but one thing is certain: the $375,000 he earned by winning on Saturday puts him squarely in the starting gate for next for the 2012 Kentucky Derby, should his connections desire to go in that direction.
The final 1/8th of a mile split in 6.41 was too bad when you take into account that the leaders put up a 1:11+ six furlong split. Liaison was just off that early pace a kicked on well in the final furlongs, especially when compared to the other horses that ran near the lead. Rousing Sermon made a huge run in the final furlongs, covering the final three furlongs in 30.53, according to the Formulator interactive charts. The only other horse to post a sub-30 second final three furlongs was Blingo in 30.63.