Photo: Hollywood Park
Trainer Ruben Cardenas hopes for the biggest score of
his career when he sends out Chilean-bred Madera Castana in the $250,000 Gamely
Stakes at Hollywood
Park Monday. The first
Grade I stake of the meet is for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Madera Castana, a Group I winner in her native Chile
who joined the Cardenas stable here in March, rallied from far back to finish
second in an allowance race on turf here May 8 in her United States debut.
“She should have won that race for fun,” said Cardenas Thursday from
his stable office in Barn 54 North. “She was 20 lengths behind at the
three-eighths pole and just got beat. There was no reason for her to be that
far back. I would like to see her closer to the pace in the Gamely.”
Cardenas, a 51-year-old native of Mexico, seeks his first graded
stakes victory in the Gamely. “I started with Wayne Lukas in the quarter horses
in 1974,” said Cardenas, who worked under Lukas, Mary Lou Tuck, Lee Rossi and
Robert Marshall before going on his own in 2000.
“I know how to take care of a good horse,” said
Cardenas with a smile, pointing out that he was a foreman for Lukas when the
stable included Winning Colors, Criminal Type, Open Mind and Tejano and the man
behind the scenes for Marshall when he campaigned multiple stakes winner Full
Cardenas hopes that Madera Castana one day will be mentioned
in the same breath. “She came in March 16 with five horses from Chile,” said Cardenas. “I thought she was the best, just
on looks. She has acclimatized pretty well since she got here.”
Madera Castana, a 4-year-old filly, is one of 19
horses that Cardenas
trains for Green Grass Stable. He has high hopes for several others. “I’m going
to train Ashtar up to the Hollywood Gold Cup (July 9),” said of the 4-year-old
Chilean-bred colt, a Group I winner with six wins in 14 starts. “Private Affair
just got in this week from Peru
and acts like a good one,” added Cardenas
of the 4-year-old filly. “She ran second against colts in a Group I in Argentina.”
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela will ride Madera Castana
for the first time in a Gamely lineup also expected to include Cozy Rosie (Mike
Smith), Dubawi Heights (Joel Rosario), Éclair de Lune
(Chantal Sutherland), Malibu Pier (Brice Blanc), Restless Soul (Joe Talamo),
Turning Top (Garrett Gomez) and Canadian invader Miss Keller (Victor Espinoza).
Celtic Princess and Lilly Fa Pootz head a short list of possible starters.
Restless Soul and Éclair de Lune each worked five
furlongs on turf Thursday in 1:01.60 and 1:04, respectively.