The road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby makes its final major stop of 2012 this weekend, as we preview the last graded stakes of the Hollywood Park meeting, the G1 CashCall Futurity. The race is an annual preview of next season's Triple Crown contenders. A field of 11 will contest the $750,000 race for two-year-olds at a mile and one-sixteenth on the main track. The winner's share of the three-quarter million dollar pot use to virtually lock-up a spot in the Kentucky Derby the following spring, but the old graded stakes earnings system for entry into "The Run For The Roses" has been scrapped in favor of a “new” points system. The Cash Call Futurity has produced six Kentucky Derby champions and winners of 15 Triple Crown races since 1981.
What makes the Cash Call of more interest is the annual participation and sometimes domination by three-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer and Hall-of-Famer Bob Baffert. The trainer has won the Cash Call a record six times and will again be loaded for this year's race with a quartet of 2-year-olds. He sends CARVING, winner of 3 of 4 starts, most recently in the Real Quiet Stakes. TITLE CONTENDER, a maiden winner who was last seen leading the Breeders' Cup Juvenile field to the far turn before fading to eighth. REALLY MR GREELY, a wire to wire winner in last month's G3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes, is also in the race, as well as DEN'S LEGACY winner of the Generous Stakes here at Hollywood Park last out.
Todd Pletcher is another conditioner who annually possesses a bevy of 2-year-olds. Pletcher is stocked with at least a half-dozen horses, including Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby, that will attempt the journey to Louisville. A member of that contingent shipped in for this race is VIOLENCE. The colt followed up his winning Saratoga debut back in August with a sharp score in the G2 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct last month.
2012 Kentucky Derby trainer, Doug O'Neill, brings HE'S HAD ENOUGH. The 2-yr old showed very little going into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, yet nearly emerged the winner following all sorts of traffic problems.
Others to Watch:
FURY KAPCORI, runner-up in the Real Quiet Stakes, was also a nice looking stakes winner in the one-mile Charlie Palmer Futurity at Fresno. He hails from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer. DIRTY SWAGG, trained by Myung Kwon Cho, had a good third-place effort in that same Real Quiet Stakes, but the maiden winner has been well beaten in two previous attempts in graded company.
Another participant from the Real Quiet Stakes, 4th place finisher SIMON EYES, represents the barn of trainer Wesley Ward. The effort was the juvenile's first venture going a route of ground.
LITTLE JERRY made his racing debut at this very distance here last month and turned it into a winning effort for conditioner Richard Baltas.
D.Wayne Lukas sends OXBOW, a seven-furlong maiden winner last month at Churchill Downs.
Adding to the uniqueness of the Cash Call is the artificial Cushion Track material that makes up the main track at Hollywood Park. However, any plans to take the Southern California road to Kentucky means racing over a conventional dirt surface as Santa Anita offers up their winter prep races over dirt leading up to the Derby. Therefore, any dirt-challenged winner of the Cash Call will likely be exposed sooner or prepare for the Kentucky Derby over synthetic surfaces at Keeneland and/or Turfway Park.
No matter, one potential star will enter the Hollywood Park winner's circle Saturday victorious in the Cash Call and the winning horse is sure to move up near the top of many Kentucky Derby 2013 lists of contenders. Winter Future Books will be adjusted and for some, rosy dreams will begin to bloom.