Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Rousing Hollywood Futurity On Tap

The last graded stakes of the Hollywood Park meet is the Grade 1 Cashcall Futurity. This race will provide an automatic ticket into the field of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, with the winner's share of the $750,000 purse providing more than enough graded stakes earnings to secure the spot. This race has been won by such Eclipse Award winners as Lookin at Lucky, Declan's Moon and Point Given. In the last decade, three horses have ran in this race and hit the board in the Kentucky Derby. Lion Heart and Pioneerof the Nile won the Futurity and then went on to run 2nd in the Derby, while Giacomo ran 2nd in the Futurity and then went on to shock the world at 50-1 in the Derby.  This year's field is sizable one of 13 runners, with a couple of new shooters mixed with in most of the best local threats. Will go over some of the contenders, starting with the rail horse.

Handsome Mike (right) comes out of a game effort in the Generous Stakes last time out. He dueled through fast fractions, won the battle but lost the war to a horse who was well off the pace, but he gamely hung on for second. He hopes to follow the same path as last year's Comma To The Top, who used the Generous as a prep for his win in this race last year. "Mike" was privately purchased after that race by J Paul Reddam (who also the sponsor of this race, CashCall) and now resides in the Doug O'Neill barn. He shows no works since the change in barns, and there is other speed in the race. Several public handicappers like him in the win spot, so no one could begrudge anyone liking him in this spot.

Brother Francis (right) is still a maiden, but has closed strongly to finish 2nd in both of his lifetime starts, his latest in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue. He stretches out to a route for the first time. His father won this race back in 2003. No maiden has won this race for its first win in (at least) the last 20 years. His connections are the patient type, and he does appear on paper to working in good fashion towards the race. While he is 20-1 on the morning line, this blog believes he will get bet down to the range of 12-1 or so.

Blingo is a horse who has a considerable amount of buzz behind him. He won a maiden race rallying from the back of the pack in his debut going a flat mile on the grass. He has the same famous connections of Shirreffs-Smith-Moss, and has worked well since the win. There appears to be enough pace to set-up his late kick. This blog thinks that the buzz will drive his odds down from the 8/1 morning line all the way to favoritism.

Rousing Sermon (right) ran a bang-up 2nd on two weeks rest in the Real Quiet Stakes last time out over this track. He won the Cal Cup Juvenile across town at this distance two back, and his trainer say he is going great guns in the morning during his workouts. He has been working locally since the last race. He also makes 3 consecutive starts without some start of layoff, which is always a good handicapping angle.

Liaison defeated Rousing Sermon last time out by making an early move and sustaining it to the wire. He worked across town several times since the last race in typical swift Baffert fashion. He figures to take considerable amount of money at the windows to the point he will be the favorite or second choice. Baffert has won this race 5 times, a record amount.

So there is a look at some of the contenders for the race. Others including the Grade 1 winner Drill, who appears to have gone off form; Majestic City, the morning line favorite who ran second in a Grade 1 at this distance at Keeneland two races back; and Empire Way, the full-brother of the multi-million dollar filly Royal Delta, who bounced off a 11 day layoff in his last race and looks to improve first time routing.

So who will this blog back at the windows? The pick for this blog is Rousing Sermon. He has just enough early speed that he can be close if the pace of the race is not blistering. He also figures to float up from his 6-1 morning line based on the other connections in this race attracting attention at the windows. He hopefully will avenge his loss to Liaison last out. Empire Way will be a large part of any exotics played as well.

Good luck folks!


  1. Drill-Last two are throwouts.
    Sky Kingdom-Sneaky strong 1st time routing off a layoff.
    Liaison- Raw but a runner. Let's see how if he can sustain a long rally off a legit pace.
    Majestic City-Glad he's in the race to raise the odds of the others. No likey.

    Blingo-Ridiculous race first out. The play @ 9/2.

  2. Disappointed Fast Bullet not entered in Malibu. The Factor has better not draw either of the inside two posts and it may not matter as he was finished before he hit the stretch in his last couple.

  3. Great ride by Bejarano. Big 9 wide finish by Rousing Sermon, AKA Alydar Jr,though he would have never passed Liaison, as L responded when RS approached his flank, just as in the Real Quiet. I'll also state that this was one of the stronger years of the event, with the first two joined by commendable and troubled runs by Brother Francis, Blingo, Sky Kingdom, Empire Way, and Handsome Mike. This year sure as shite beat up the last three years, in particular last years paddle fest.

    Special kudos go to Alonso Quinonez, who showed (on the head on replay) how to use your ass to save your ass when the right rein breaks. How he kept Groovin' Solo from going over the fence when for a good 1/8th of a mile his chin was over the rail deserves mention.

  4. Of the 5 horses you focused on, 3 ran 1-2-3(Liaiason, Rousing Sermon, Brother Francis).

    Liaison and Rousing Sermon repeated their Real Quiet finish in similar fashion to Killer Graces and Charm the Maker going from Sharp Cat to Starlet.

    Yes, Mathieu, Liaison is definitely a runner, and I don't think Rousing Sermon was ever going to pass him in the Real Quiet or Futurity(Liaison remained in front of RS on the gallop out, for what it's worth).

    Liaison is by the late Indian Charlie, which might damper some enthusiasm for 10 furlongs, but that brilliance is balanced by Victory Gallop on the bottom. I like the way he runs, with good tactical speed(Indian Charlie), and he was up close to a pace fast for Cushion Track, yet he has closed fast in his two races at 8.5 furlongs. He is proven over dirt, so surface is not an issue. A MAJOR Derby contender.

    Just look at Baffert's other Futurity winners: Real Quiet(Derby-Preakness), Captain Steve(Dubai World Cup, over $6 million in earnings), Point Given(Preakness-Belmont, HoY, Hall of Fame), Pioneer of the Nile(SA Derby, 2nd Kentucky Derby), Lookin at Lucky(Preakness, Champion at 2 + 3).

    Rousing Sermon ran a brave race. This little Cal-bred, and he's not much to look at, always fires, and he fired huge in here. He might have been 8 wide entering the stretch, but he still out-kicked solid closers like Empire Way, Blingo, and Sky Kingdom. He also can dirt having won the Cal Cup Classic at SA.

    I liked this race, liked that the pace was solid and that they still came home the final sixteenth in 6 and 2. I also like that the final time was faster than what Bluegrass Reward posted in a field of 3 year old and older allowance horses.

  5. Looking forward to your breakdown of the Baffert/Asmussen reality special (The Malibu). Seven entrants between them and they even kept their best 7F horses in the the barn (Fast Bullet & Tapizar.)

    Gotta like the day ending with the Malibu.