Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has a chance to make history Saturday in the $300,000 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity and $300,000 Starlet at the Southern California track.
In the history of the two Grade I races for 2-year-olds – which have been run since 1981 at either Hollywood Park or Los Alamitos – no trainer has ever won both in the same year.
Baffert, who has won the Starlet – which is restricted to fillies – three times and the Futurity on nine occasions – including all three run at Los Alamitos – will send out the undefeated Dream Tree in the Starlet and Solomini and McKinzie in the CashCall Futurity. Both races are at 1 1/16 miles.
Post time Saturday is 12:30 p.m. The Futurity is the third of nine races and has a scheduled post time of 1:28 p.m. while the Starlet goes about 30 minutes later as the fourth race.
Won previously by stars such as Snow Chief, A.P. Indy, Best Pal, Real Quiet, Point Given, Lookin At Lucky, Shared Belief, Dortmund, Mor Spirit and Mastery, the CashCall Futurity is part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby'' series. Saturday's winner will receive 10 points towards securing a spot in the starting gate May 5, 2018 at Churchill Downs.
The Starlet, whose past winners include Althea, Very Subtle, Goodbye Halo, Sardula, Serena's Song, Surfside, Blind Luck, Take Charge Brandi and Abel Tasman, is part of the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks'' series. The heroine Saturday will receive 10 points towards earning a berth in the Kentucky Oaks next May 4 in Louisville.
The Los Alamitos Racing Association will also offer a cash prize and three seats to the 2018 National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas with a live money contest Saturday.
Cost to enter the Los Alamitos Winter Qualifier is $400. Of that amount, $100 will be placed in the contest prize pool with the remaining funds going towards a live-money wagering card.
Contestants must enter prior to 12:30 p.m. and players can begin entering the contest at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Tournament races will include the entire card at Los Alamitos with permitted wagers including win, place, show, exactas and daily doubles beginning on races 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. Each entry must bet at least $50 on six races, but there is no wagering limit. For purposes of the contest, a Daily Double wager counts as one race.
The player with the highest bankroll at the end of the day will be declared the winner and the player with the second highest bankroll will be the runner-up.
The winner will receive 50% of the prize pool, which will be capped at $10,000. The remaining payoffs: 20% (2nd place), 15% (3rd place), 10% (4th place) and 5% (5th place).
There will also be three berths available to the 2018 Last Chance contest in Las Vegas.
Owned by Zayat Stables LLC, Solomini, a $270,000 purchase at the Keeneland September sale in 2016, was runner-up behind Good Magic in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Nov. 4 at Del Mar.
A son of Curlin and the Storm Cat mare Surf Song, Solomini has a win and two seconds in three starts and has earned $436,000. Prior to the BC Juvenile, the chestnut defeated maidens going 6 ½ furlongs in his Sept. 2 debut, then was a defeated 7 ¾ lengths by Bolt d'Oro in the Grade I Frontrunner at the Futurity distance Sept. 30.
Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, McKinzie, who is named in honor the late longtime Los Alamitos executive Brad McKinzie, broke his maiden by 5 ½ lengths when debuting at seven furlongs Oct. 28. The win was worth $30,000.
A Street Sense colt out of the Petionville mare Runway Model purchased for $170,000 last September at Keeneland , McKinzie has trained well since the victory, including a best of the morning six furlongs in 1:12 4/5 Nov. 27 at Santa Anita.
Mark McKinzie, whose older brother died Aug. 6 at 62 after battling renal carcinoma, is eagerly anticipating McKinzie's next start.
“I can't wait for the race,'' he said. “I thought the horse looked really good in his win and he's done very well preparing for the Futurity. It would be very special to win (the Futurity).
“We're hoping we're going to be making a trip to the Kentucky Derby next year.”
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who won the final CashCall Futurity run at Hollywood Park with Shared Belief in 2013, will be represented Saturday by Instilled Regard.
An Arch colt out of the Forestry mare Enhancing, Instilled Regarded finished second and third in two sprint starts, then won by 4 ¼ lengths when stretched out to the CashCall Futurity distance Oct. 29. Instilled Regard has earned $48,000 for OXO Equine LLC.
An authoritative winner of the Golden Nugget at Golden Gate Fields Nov. 11 in his initial start in five months, Runaway Ghost will try two turns for the first time for owner-breeder Joe Peacock and trainer Mike Machowsky.
A son of Ghostzapper and the Desert God mare Rose's Desert, Runaway Ghost has won two of three and banked $73,550. Prior to his 7 ½ length win in the Golden Nugget, the Kentucky bred finished second in his May 12 debut, then defeated next out graduate Serengeti and seven others going five furlongs June 10 at Santa Anita.
Completing the CashCall Futurity field is For Him, a gelded son of Violence and the Saint Ballado mare Diva Girl. Owned by Michael Lombardi and trained by Mike Pender, For Him has one win in four starts and earnings of $28,345. He led throughout vs. $50,000 maidens going one mile Aug 9 at Del Mar.
From inside out, the field for the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity: Instilled Regard, Drayden Van Dyke rides, 120 pounds; For Him, Edwin Maldonado, 120; Solomini, Flavien Prat, 120; Runaway Ghost, Joe Talamo, 120 and McKinzie, Mike Smith, 120.
Dream Tree, who is owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred III, will try more yardage in the Starlet after beginning her career with two narrow wins.
The Uncle Mo filly, who was purchased earlier this year for $750,000, scored by a nose over Midnight Bisou in her Oct. 27 debut at six furlongs, then defeated the same rival by the same margin 22 days later going seven-eighths of a mile in the Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar.
Out of the Afleet Alex mare Afleet Maggi, Dream Tree has earned $90,000.
Piedi Bianchi will be seeking her second win for Nice Guys Stable, Joe Bick and Jay Oringer and trainer Doug O'Neill.
The Overanalyze filly out of the Tactical Cat mare Adore You has started five times and earned $201,000. In her most recent start, the $80,000 purchase at the OBS March sale finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 4.
Pieidi Bianchi, who has been worse than third only once, debuted at Los Alamitos July 6, finishing second behind She's No Drama.
War Heroine, a Lonhro filly out of the War Chant mare War Tigress, stretches out for trainer Peter Miller after a 6 ¾ length debut score at 6 ½ furlongs Nov. 12 at Del Mar.
Owned by Gary Barber, War Heroine, a $37,000 buy at the Keeneland September 2016 sale, banked $31,200 for her easy gate-to-wire score.
Exuberance, who was a 6 ½ length winner over maidens in her first start around two turns Oct. 13, will make her graded stakes debut for Seltzer Thoroughbreds and trainer Ian Kruljac.
An Archarcharch filly out of the D'wildcat mare Wild Forest Cat, Exuberance is 1-for-3 with a bankroll of $49,200. She finished third in the Barretts Debutante Sept. 16 in her previous appearance at Los Alamitos.
Trainer Simon Callaghan, who won the 2016 Starlet with Abel Tasman, will try for a repeat with Yesterday's News.
Owned by J. Paul and Zillah Reddam's Reddam Racing LLC, the New Year's Day filly out of the Broken Vow mare West Coast Gal has one win in five starts and earnings of $53,245.
The last trainer to win the Starlet in consecutive years was D. Wayne Lukas, who scored with Sharp Cat in 1996 and Love Lock in 1997 at Hollywood Park.
From inside out, the field for the Starlet: Exuberance, Tyler Baze rides, 120 pounds; Piedi Bianchi, Kyle Frey, 120; Dream Tree, Drayden Van Dyke, 120; War Heroine, Flavien Prat, 120 and Yesterday's News, Mario Gutierrez, 120.
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