The Cash Call Futurity, the last Grade-1 Stakes for 2 year olds in 2011

By on Dec 17, 2011

Category: Horse Racing

By Steve Davidowitz
As Hollywood Park closes this weekend, west coast horseplayers will see many of the most promising 2 year olds in the country in the $750,000 Cash Call Futurity.

The Grade-1 race will be run at 1-1/16 miles around two turns on the synthetic Cushion Track that Hollywood has used as its main racing surface for the past three years.

While there will only be three stakes winners among the 13 horses in the oversized field—Del Mar Futurity winner DRILL; Real Quiet Stakes winner LIASON and Hollywood Juvenile winner MAJESTIC CITY, there are so many other horses in this race who could develop into serious contenders for next Spring’s Triple Crown races. Specifically, in addition to the three stakes winners cited above, three others have finished second or third in various stakes, including HANDSOME MIKE, BROTHER FRANCIS and BASMATI, plus four recent winners of high class maiden races,  including SKY KINGDOM, BLINGO, COZZETTI and the European import DESORMAIS.

That accounts for nine of the starters in this race, a race that may not rank with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, or other Grade-1 stakes, but  it has produced more than its share of important 3 and 4 year old stars who won this season ending Futurity through the years.

Indeed, the Cash Call Futurity was won by the eventual 1986 Preakness winner SNOW CHIEF; the 1991 Pacific Classic winner BEST PAL; 1992 Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner A.P. INDY; 1998 Derby and Preakness winner REAL QUIET;  2001 Dubai World Cup winner CAPTAIN STEVE; 2001 Preakness, Belmont and Travers winner POINT GIVEN; 2010 Preakness winner LOOKIN AT LUCKY;  plus several Classic winners who finished second or third in this race, most notably ALYSHEBA, FERDINAND, THUNDER GULCH and GIACOMO.

While Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has three horses in Saturday’s race, including stakes winners Liason and Drill, his maiden grad Sky Kingdom, a son of Empire Maker, served notice of his potential on Nov. 24 with an impressive victory at the Futurity distance over this track.

Sky Kingdom was very smooth stalking a relatively moderate pace for 6 furlongs in that race before he turned on the jets to win driving clear in respectable time to earn an 84 Beyer Speed Figure, the top last race speed figure in the Futurity field.

It also seems significant that Sky Kingdom was making his first try around two turns after two mediocre sprint races at Del Mar.

While Baffert hopes to see Drill rebound to the form he demonstrated during the summer, he thinks that Sky Kingdom has shown hints of the form he saw in the five horses he previously saddled to win this Futurity—Real Quiet, Captain Steve, Point Given, Pioneerofthe Nile and Lookin At Lucky.

“This is when you start thinking of the Kentucky Derby,” Baffert explained while adding a comment that tells a great deal about why this late season race has gained in stature through the years:

“I’ve never won (this race) with a bum,” Baffert said.

Here are the horses in the field. Along with their program numbers and jockeys.
Post time is set for 4:37 PST, on Saturday. Check the Bovada Racebook for online horse racing odds, track conditions and  other late breaking information.

#1  Handsome Mike; Corey Nakatani.
#2  Brother Francis; Victor Espinoza
#3 Groovin’ Solo;  Alonso Quinonez
#4 Empire Way,;Joel Rosario
#5 Drill; Martin Garcia
#6 Sky Kingdom, Garrett Gomez
#7 Blingo; Mike Smith
#8  Rousing Sermon; Joe Talamo
#9  Liason; Rafael Bejarano
#10 Cozzetti, Julien Leparoux
#11 Majestic City; Ramon Dominguez
#12  Basmati; Hector Berrios
#13 Desormais; David Flores

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