IN EXCESSIVE BULL TO HOOK HORNS WITH THISWASNEARLYMINE
In Excessive Bull, upset by Thisnearlywasmine in the Oct. 23 Sunny Slopes Stakes as the 2-5 favorite, will try to avenge his loss to that rival in Sunday's $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes (Gr. III) at seven furlongs.
"I think he'll turn the tables on Thisnearlywasmine," trainer Bob Baffert said. "My horse wants to go longer and the extra distance will help him."
The son of In Excess was sent off as the overwhelming choice in the Sunny Slopes on the basis of an eye-opening ten-length maiden win on Oct. 5. But Thiswasnearlymine shot out of the gate setting fractions of :21 2/5 and :44, and never looked back, scoring by three-quarters of a length over In Excessive Bull in 1:08 2/5 for the six furlongs.
"Thisnearlywasmine ran like a freak last time," Baffert said. "For him to throw that race back again -- that's a very difficult thing for a 2-year-old to do."
The 43-year-old trainer has high praise for In Excessive Bull.
"He's probably one of the quickest 2-year-olds I've had," Baffert said. "He has an abundance of raw talent."
Baffert considered running In Excessive Bull on the grass Monday in the $60,000-added Precisionist, but wanted to keep his runner on the main track.
"After the duck incident, we thought we'd stay off the turf for now," Baffert joked about Wednesday's incident in which a flock of ducks sitting on the turf course spooked the field in the Jim Hill Stakes, including his Clever Princess.
Baffert has an excess of talented 2-year-olds. In Excessive Bull's main goal will be the Hollywood Futurity, while Del Mar Futurity (Gr. II) winner Silver Charm is also a possibility for the Dec. 15 race. The former Quarter Horse trainer also has Photarc, who is slated for Monday's Precisionist, and Peary Mason, who broke his maiden impressively Monday at Santa Anita.
"I've never had a bench like this," Baffert quipped. "I've had a chair before, but never a bench."
Post positions from the rail out for Sunday's $100,000-added Hollywood Prevue Stakes (Gr. III), for 2-year-olds to be run at seven furlongs on the main track: Robynhood, Gary Stevens, 112; Thisnearlywasmine, Chris McCarron, 118; Constant Demand, Eddie Delahoussaye, 112; In Excessive Bull, Corey Nakatani, 112, and Golden Bronze, Goncalino Almeida, 112.
PLAY WAKI FOR ME BACK ON TURF IN MONDAY'S PRECISIONIST
Trainer Randy Bradshaw likes his chances with Play Waki For Me in Monday's $60,000- added Precisionist. Although the 2-year-old colt hasn't raced since Sept. 21, Play Waki For Me's stock went on the rise Breeders' Cup weekend.
"He ran second to Boston Harbor in his last, over a track he didn't really like," Bradshaw said of Play Waki For Me's runner-up finish, seven lengths behind the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Gr. I) winner in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (Gr. III). "It was a hard, wet-fast track, and everything that went to the lead was won that day."
The son of Fast Play will make his first start in Southern California, after racing in the Midwest, and will be one of the few runners in the field with turf experience.
"He broke his maiden on grass," Bradshaw said of his 1 1/4-length win at Ellis Park. "He won from the 12-hole going five-and-a-half on the turf."
Bradshaw has been successful with his 2-year-olds this year, and will likely saddle the starting favorites in this weekend's stakes, the Maker's Mark and the Hollywood Prevue (Gr. III). But Play Waki For Me may have carved out his niche in the barn.
"I think he'll be a much better turf horse," said Bradshaw, who noted the Generous Stakes (Gr. III) on Nov. 30 is the main goal for Play Waki For Me. "We missed some time with him -- but his last two works were very good, and I expect him to run very well."
SERENA'S SONG GOES FOR RECORD IN SATURDAY SIMULCAST
Serena's Song headlines the Churchill Downs Distaff (Gr. II), one of two stakes simulcast to Hollywood Park Saturday. The $200,000 race will be run as Churchill's eighth race, with a local post time of 1:45 p.m.
The durable filly has earned $3,238,348 with 18 wins, ten seconds and three thirds from 37 starts. She needs only $25,488 to surpass the record of $3,263,836 set by Dance Smartly. A first or second-place finish would give her the record. The Bob and Beverly Lewis runner will carry high weight of 125 pounds, spotting her nine rivals seven to 16 pounds.
The $100,000-added First Flight Handicap (Gr. II) from Aqueduct will be simulcast at 1:05 p.m.
EDDIE DELAHOUSSAYE IS FEELING BETTER, RIDING AGAIN
Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye will be back in the saddle on Saturday for the first time since he took off mounts on Oct. 27.
"I'm doing good and getting stronger each day," the veteran rider said. "I'm definitely on the upswing."
Delahoussaye, 45, complained of stomach pains and checked into Arcadia Methodist Hospital last Thursday. He was suffering from stomach pains and had become dehydrated.
"The doctors said I had a virus that knocked me out pretty good," he said. "All my tests came back good. They gave me some fluids and now I'm back on my feet again."
DERNIER EMPEREUR HEADED TO JAPAN CUP
Owner Gary Tanaka and trainer Ben Cecil have decided to accept their invitation to the Japan Cup with Dernier Empereur.
"We're definitely going," Cecil said. "It's not an easy spot, but at least the turf is very, very firm, and that's what he loves."
Cecil reports that Chris McCarron, who piloted Dernier Empereur in the Carleton F. Burke (Gr. II), is expected to ride Awad in the Japan Cup. In that event, Cecil will enlist the services of Gary Stevens.
Dernier Empereur will have to tackle some of the world's best, including Helissio, Pentire, Saintly, Awad and others.
"It's a gamble,' Cecil said. "But he was pretty impressive last time."
COMININALITTLEHOT TO TRAVEL TO HONG KONG
Comininalittlehot has received an invitation to the Hong Kong Invitational Bowl after an impressive score in the Oct. 27 Morvich Handicap at Santa Anita.
"We're really excited," trainer Mike Mitchell said of the Dec. 8 race. "He's just on the top of his game. Seven-eighths is perfect for him and Gary Stevens will ride. That should give us a big edge because he's ridden there."
Comininalittlehot took the Morvich off a four-month layoff.
"This is something we've planned since June," Mitchell said. "We turned him out to clean him up and make sure he was as sound as can be."
Mitchell says Comininalittlehot appreciates a firmer turf course like Hollywood Park and the new Santa Anita course, and thinks he will take to the turf in Hong Kong.
"We knew he'd run really big," Mitchell said. "He broke the track record. Even though the course is faster, it still shows how well he ran."
Mitchell has been to Hong Kong before, but never shipped a runner to the Far East.
"It's a fascinating city, and the racing is spectacular," Mitchell said. "It will be a great experience for my family."
The 48-year-old trainer is on a roll lately, capturing both the Del Mar and Oak Tree meets. Mitchell sent out 13 winners from 39 starters at Oak Tree, including the Cal Cup Sprint with Testimony.
"I had a great Del Mar meet and didn't expect to do that well at Oak Tree," Mitchell said. "My numbers were down. But I've been blessed. God has been looking out for me."
FINISH LINES: Veteran Northern California jockey agent Stanley Puhich died of a heart attack Wednesday night at his home in San Mateo. He was 55. Services will be Monday or Tuesday at St. Anthony's Church in Black Diamond, Washington . . . Trainer Ben Cecil said Gary Tanaka's Tamise, trained by Jean Claude Rouget, is scheduled to run in the Matriarch (Gr. I) on Dec. 1 and will stay in his barn following the race. Cecil is also scheduled to receive Southern Spring, an Argentinean runner who captured the first leg of the 3-year-old filly Triple Crown in her native country, in the next three-to-four weeks . . . Grade I winner Auriette drilled five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 in preparation for the Matriarch (Gr. I) . . . Smooth Runner, following his eleventh-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile, worked four furlongs in :49 for trainer Richard Mettee . . . Sleep Easy went five panels in 1:02 Friday morning.
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