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Weekend Stakes Action: 2012 Cash Call Futurity Edition

The Grade 1 CashCall Futurity and G2-Hollywood Turf Cup highlights this weekend's slate of graded stakes action, but the G3-Dania Beach at Gulfstream might be the best betting race.

Grandeur (IRE) is the ML favorite for Saturday's G2-Hollywood Turf Cup.
Grandeur (IRE) is the ML favorite for Saturday's G2-Hollywood Turf Cup.
Alan Crowhurst

Only three graded stakes races on the calendar this weekend, and two both will take place at Betfair Hollywood Park on Saturday afternoon.* I wrote a little about both of those events a couple of days ago , so I'll spare you the same old gory details of each race. But here's my down and dirty take on each of those two races:

*So, some confusion over the Dania Beach and it's grade. The DRF PP's listed the race as a Grade 3, although their own stakes calendar indicated it's ungraded. The result chart indicates it's ungraded (as does the Gulfstream website), so I'm going with that.

  • I'm going to take a stand against both of the favorites in CashCall Futurity - He's Had Enough and Violence. They may turn out to be the best of the bunch but I'm not sure that either of them are at their best when running on synthetics. As a result, I'm tossing them aside and looking for a price.

    I really love 10-Little Jerry (12/1) coming into this race off a debut victory at two turns over the Hollywood Cushion Track in late November. There is plenty of speed in this race and this colt closed from well back to win at first asking. (Watch the replay; he was almost out of the picture on the pan shot when they entered the backstretch.) Visually, the race wasn't exactly a work of art. But when you take a look at the slow splits, the ton of ground he had to make up, and the fact that it was his first start, there's a lot to look forward to.

    Plus, as I wrote previously, Little Jerry is a Candy Ride (ARG) colt and I love those Candy Ride offspring.
  • Turning to the Hollywood Turf Cup - 4-Grandeur (IRE) ran well in England when going a mile and a quarter at courses like Ascot and Epsom, so I don't think he'll have any problem going 12 panels on a flat, non-testing American turf course. This gelding can close like an absolute freight train and it's hard to see anyone beating him if he's on his game.

    7-Bourbon Bay (7/2)
    is 0-for-6 lifetime on the Hollywood Park turf course. He's 8-for-19 on all other grass courses.

    If I'm tossing money into the wind for a bomb play, I'm tossing it at the Peruvian mare, 9-Private Affair (PER) (20/1) in just her second start this year. She's faced the boys before when she was racing in South America, but this is an awfully big test. One thing I love about this mare is her pedigree: she's got some serious stamina on the top half. Her sire, Privately Held, sports an offspring average winning distance of 11.0 furlongs, according to Bris Sire Stats.

Below is a summary of this weekend's stakes action:

Date Track Race Gr. Age Sex Dist. Surf. Winner $2 Win
15-Dec HOL CashCall Futurity 1 2yo 8.5 Poly Violence
15-Dec HOL Hollywood Turf Cup 2 3up 12.0 Turf Grandeur (IRE)
15-Dec GP Dania Beach 2yo 8.0 Turf 2-Mystic Love
15-Dec FG Tenacious Handicap 3up 8.5 Dirt Hurricane Ike
15-Dec AQU Sarcastic 3yo f 8.0+70 Dirt 5-Wildcats Smile $8.50
15-Dec AQU Gravesend 3up 6.0 Dirt 4-Saginaw $3.10
16-Dec WO
Validictory 3up
14.0 Poly 4-Heathcote $14.00
15-Dec TP Prairie Bayou Stakes 3up 8.5 Poly 10-Night Party $8.40
16-Dec GP Harlan’s Holiday 3up 8.5 Dirt 2-Csaba

Out at Gulfstream Park the Grade 3 Dania Beach Stakes, a one mile turf race for juveniles, has drawn a nice field of 10 (with an 11th horse entered for the main track only). Let's take a look at the field:

1-Tate’s Landing (8/1) ran decently on dirt through the first three starts of his career and then uncorked a big-time effort in the Laurel Futurity at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf course in late October.

He won the race by 3 ¼ lengths but it would have been more if he hadn't shifted out drastically in the lane. Trainer Michael Pino put him on the bench for a bit of rest and probably to try and train out some of the greenness his displayed at Laurel.

The question in this race is the distance; Tate's Landing has never gone farther than six furlongs in any of his previous four starts. His sire, Orientate, has an average winning distance of 6.6 furlongs, according to Bris Sire Stats, so there's not a ton of stamina on the top half of the pedigree. His dam sire is Foresty, another stallion known more for speed than stamina. The dam, Treetop Landing, has produced only one other foal that is 0-for-7 lifetime with six of those starts coming in dirt sprint races. That leaves us with not a whole lot to go on.

I could go either way with this colt; the odds will probably be in the 10/1 or better range, but, given the question marks, they deserve to be. Michael Pino is 4-for-39 over the last four years when stretching out a horse on the lawn (10% Win%, 38% ITM%, $0.65 $2 ROI, $6.20 Median Payoff).

2-Mystic Love (10/1) is another Laurel shipper coming to Gulfstream off of a win in a turf sprint stakes race. And just like Tate's Landing, the pedigree is pretty iffy as to whether a mile is really the "best" distance for this filly.

3-Itsmyluckyday (5/1) was a well-beaten 6th in the G3-Delta Jackpot in mid-November and he ran decently in his only turf start in a sprint at Monmouth Park in early August. Based on his prior routes on dirt, the distance should be an issue but, I don't know; nothing really screams "winner" to me. Of course, with juvenile stakes races like this one, it's hard to judge the readiness of many of the contenders.

4-Newfound Zapper (8/1) is coming into this race off of his maiden breaking win at Churchill in late October but he's got some very attractive qualities compared to his rivals. First, I love the pedigree (Ghostzapper out of Trempolino mare, Tustarta); Ghostzapper has done well in producing runners winning on multiple surfaces, and Tempolino sports a average winning distance of 9.4 furlongs in the Bris Sire Stats. Second, there are some seriously strong connections in his corner in the form of Wesley Ward and Joel Rosario (although as of the time I was typing this it's possible Rosario could face a suspension for an incident on Friday afternoon where his mount, Fog Happens, interfered with The Marikutana and was DQ'd and placed fourth.)

This gelding should be able to sit back, save ground, and then turn it loose once he hits the top of the lane. He's run up near the lead and he's closed from well-back so he's shown some versatility at an early age.

5-Thunder Calls (6/1) produced arguably his best effort when finishing third in a stakes race for Florida-breds in early November. That wasn't a bad effort at all when you go back and watch the traffic issues he faced on the turn and in the stretch.

6-Squall King (12/1) is another recent maiden winner following a score at a mile and a sixteenth at Churchill in mid-November. I went back and watched that maiden breaking win and, to be honest, I didn't care for the visual impression it left on me. At the top of the stretch it looked like Squall King was going to just roll by the field, instead he hung a little bit and only won by a nose as runner-up Layton Register battled him hard from the rail. I think he needs to really improve off that effort to win in this spot.

7-Hard to Name (10/1) will try the lawn for the first time after a pair of victories at Parx in his last two starts. A son of Hard Spun out of a Giant's Causeway mare (Affluenza), his pedigree looks promising for a start on grass. Hard Spun has done well with first time turf runner, and Giant's Causeway isn't a turf slouch sire in any way, shape or form. There isn't much to speak of in terms of siblings or production from the dam during her racing days.

Even though all four of his prior races came over dirt (and at sprint distances), it's not crazy to think he could potentially be a monster on the lawn. Plus, he's shown improvement each and every time he's stepped on the track, something I love to see with any juvenile. Trainer John Servis doesn't run a lot of juveniles on the lawn (just nine first time turf juveniles over the last five years), so we're a little bit in the dark as to his effectiveness with this move. One thing we do know, however, is Servis is excellent with juveniles (53-for-318, 17% Win%, 47% ITM%, $1.79 $2 ROI, $7.40 Median Payoff). He just doesn't run them on grass very often (only 10 of 318 juveniles in the last five years ran on turf, with one winner).

8-All Keyed Up (20/1) had to work really hard to beat a field of $20k Maiden Claimers at Calder in his last start and he was smoked pretty bad when he tried Maiden Special Weight company on the lawn two back. Can't see him wining without some serious improvement.

9-Reporting Star (4/1) finished just behind Thunder Calls in that stakes race for Florida-breds back on Nov. 10th, his first race after his debut score against Maiden Specials at Calder on Oct. 17th. He's displayed enough talent to compete in this spot but he's going to need to hustle out of the gate in order to avoid getting caught wide going into the first turn.

10-Charming Kitten (3/1) presents us with a powerful combination of trainer (Todd Pletcher), owner (Ken & Sarah Ramsey), jockey (Johnny V.) and a top 3 finish against stakes company in his last race over the lawn (3rd in the G2-With Anticipation at Saratoga on Aug. 30th). It's very unlikely this colt is at 3/1 or better come post time.

Charming Kitten is a full-brother to Queen'splatekitten, a multiple graded stakes place colt and winner of the Marine Stakes at Woodbine.

11-Sr. Quisqueyano (Main Track Only; 5/2) is a perfect three-for-three on wet tracks and two of those victories were wins by better than 12 lengths. If this race were to come off the lawn, this colt is the one to beat. As noted in the Daily Racing Form's closer look section, this colt was a $5,500 purchase and has banked $149,600 in six starts as a juvenile (6-3-3-0). Not a bad return on investment.

The Pick

Charming Kitten is a logical choice if this race stays on the lawn, but I don't love the post position and I'm inclined to look for a better price elsewhere. Hard to Name looks to me like a colt that is ready to pop a big effort and the switch to the lawn might just do the trick. He's 10/1 on the morning line and I'd love to play him at 7/1 or higher (although I'd probably still take a shot is he was bet down to the 5/1 range).