The upset winner of the Jamaica Handicap in his United States debut Oct. 8 at Belmont Park, Western Aristrocrat will seek another Grade I in the $250,000 Hollywood Derby Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Scheduled at 1 ¼ miles for 3-year-olds, the Derby wraps the three-day Turf Festival. The 10-race card Sunday – post time 12:30 p.m. - also includes another Turf Festival race, the $100,000 Generous, a Grade III for 2-year-olds at one mile. The Generous is the fifth and the Hollywood Derby is the ninth.
Owned by Vinery Stables LLC and trained by Jeremy Noseda, Western Artistocrat set a very slow pace in the Jamaica, eventually defeating Brilliant Speed by one length. The win was the first in a graded or group race for the son of Mr. Greeley and the Kris S. mare Aristrocratic Lady.
In two starts in Group III events in England, Western Aristocrat finished third and seventh. He’s won four of seven and banked $194,637. Corey Nakatani, the leader among riders with 14 Turf Festival victories, has the return call.
The field includes two others who made their most recent start in New York.
Trained by Chad Brown for Gary and Mary West Stables Inc., Casino Host was sixth in the Jamaica. The Dynaformer colt out of the Seeking the Gold mare Ensenada has one win in eight attempts and earnings of $130,675. His best finish in a graded race was a third in the Grade II Virginia Derby July 16 at Colonial Downs.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who won the 2004 Hollywood Derby with Good Reward for Ogden Mills Phipps, will try for another victory with Imagining, a Giant’s Causeway colt out of the A.P. Indy mare Daydreaming bred and owned by Phipps Stable.
Imagining will be aiming for his first stakes win. The chestnut has one win in four starts while earning $52,190.
Willcox Inn arrives off a 4 ½ length win as the 11-10 favorite in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby Oct. 15.
Trained by Michael Stidham for All In Stable, the son of Harlan’s Holiday and the Gone West mare De Aar has won four of nine and earned $400,943. Besides the Hawthorne Derby, Willcox Inn’s other turf wins include the Grade II American Derby July 9 and the $100,000 Arlington Classic May 28 at Arlington Park.
Slumber was a winner of the James Seymour Stakes Oct. 29 at Newmarket, capturing the $48,400 race by 1 ¾ lengths Juddmonte Farms - which has a record seven Turf Festivals wins – and trainer Charles Hills.
A son of Cacique and the Woodman mare Sound Asleep, Slumber is 2-for-5 with a bankroll of $96,094.
Ultimate Eagle and Venomous, who finished a half-length apart when 1-2 in the Oak Tree Derby Oct. 15 at Santa Anita, will renew acquaintances Sunday.
Trained by Mike Pender for owner B.J. Wright, Ultimate Eagle has won three in a row after losing the first three races of his career.
The Mizzen Mast colt out of the Captain Bodgit mare Letithappencaptain led throughout at 34-1 in the Oak Tree Derby. He’s earned $179,800.
Owned by Magalen Bryant and now in the barn of Leonard Powell, Venomous flew late after trailing early in the Oak Tree Derby in his U.S. debut. The English bred son of Red Ransom and the Golden Snake mare Snake Dancer has won three of 13 and earned $218,711.
Defeated by one length when third at 17-1 in the Oak Tree Derby, Cozy Kitten will be making his Grade I debut for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward. The Kitten’s Joy gelding out of the Cozzene mare Caterette is 2-for-9 with earnings of $144,464. His turf victories came at Monmouth Park in his first start Sept. 4, 2010 and the Franklin Simpson Sept. 17 at Kentucky Downs.
Cloud Man, who has been second on third in three previous races over the Hollywood Park turf course, enters off a fifth in the Oak Tree Derby. The Thunder Gulch colt out of the Kris S. mare Keydara has two wins in seven races and earnings of $116,440 for owner-breeders Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs.
Irish Art stretches out again for owner Warren Williamson and trainer Carla Gaines after a victory at 6 ½ furlongs in the restricted Uniformity Stakes Oct. 23 at Santa Anita. The Artie Schiller colt out of the Seattle Song mare Irish Linnet has won twice in five starts. His bankroll is $101,480.
Seventh in the Oak Tree Derby, Surrey Star makes his first local appearance since he was second behind Midnight Interlude in the Tsunami Slew Stakes June 17.
Owned by Class Racing Stable and trained by Jim Cassidy, the 3-year-old Irish bred son of Dubawi and the Fantastic Light mare Turning Light has won two of 16 and earned $136,980. His sole win in this country came in the La Puente Stakes April 10 at Santa Anita.
A win would be the second in the last three years in the Hollywood Derby for Cassidy, who won with The Usual Q.T. in 2009.
El Pocho is a Chilean bred making his first start in this country for Green Grass Stable and trainer Ruben Cardenas. The son of The Might Tiger and the Jeune Homme mare Troisienne Age is 1-for-2 with earnings of $12,592. He has been away since a 9 ¾ length maiden victory June 25 in his native land.
From the inside out, the field for the 70th running of the Hollywood Derby: Cloud Man, Mike Smith rides, 122 pounds; Imagining, Javier Castellano, 122; Slumber Garrett Gomez, 122; Western Aristocrat, Corey Nakatani, 122; Casino Host, Joe Talamo, 122; Venomous, Joel Rosario, 122; Surrey Star, Chantal Sutherland, 122; El Pocho, Hector Berrios, 122; Irish Art, Rafael Bejarano, 122; Cozy Kitten, Alonso Quinonez, 122; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza, 122 and Willcox Inn, Robby Albarado, 122.