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Breeders' Cup 2017

Dakota Phone Headlines Native Diver

Dakota Phone, who scored the biggest win of his career in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs, heads a field of seven in the  $100,000 Native Diver Handicap.

A Grade III at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track, the Native Diver will be run for the 32nd time Saturday at Hollywood Park. Post time is 12:30 p.m. The Native Diver is the eighth of nine races.

Owned by a partnership that includes John Carver, Halo Farms, George Todaro and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Dakota Phone rallied from last in the Dirt Mile, prevailing by a head at 37-1.

The win was the sixth in 32 starts for the 5-year-old gelded son of Zavata and the Spinning World mare World of Gold. He basically doubled his career earnings with the shocker, pushing his bankroll to $1,273,810.

If successful, he would be the first Breeders’ Cup winner to return and capture the Native Diver. Alphabet Soup won the race in 1995, some 11 months before he upset Cigar in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Woodbine.

Third behind Richard’s Kid and Crown of Thorns in the Goodwood Stakes in his last start over Cushion Track, Dakota Phone is seeking his first win at nine furlongs. He is 0-for-7 at the trip.

Trainer Paddy Gallagher entered both Soul Candy and Aggie Engineer.

Owned by E Z Eight Racing Stable and Madera Thoroughbreds, Soul Candy comes off a win in the California Cup Classic at the Native Diver distance. The 4-year-old Birdonthewire gelding out of the Lil Tyler mare Just Satisfaction had raced exclusively on turf prior to that 1 ¼ length win. He’s won four of 10 and earned $205,300.

Aggie Engineer also enters with a win in his last start, scoring as the favorite in an optional claimer Oct. 22. The 5-year-old gelded son of E Dubai and the Dixieland Band mare Papalma has won five of 15 and earned $208,280 for owner-breeders Ward and Roberta Williford.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will seek his second Native Diver win – General Challenge provided the first in 1999 - with Spurrier. Owned by Arnold Zetcher, the 5-year-old Dixieland Band horse and the Valiant Nature mare Humble has won five of 24, banking $256,947.

A winner of three of five over the Hollywood Park main track, Spurrier has been idle since finishing fourth as part of an odds-on entry in the Ralph M. Hinds Handicap Sept. 26 at Fairplex Park.

Philatelist will try to give Humberto Ascanio a second win in a row in the Native Diver. Ascanio, who won in 2009 with Mast Track, would be the first trainer to repeat since Richard Mandella won three in succession. Gentleman began the streak for Mandella in 1996, followed by Refinado Tom (1997) and Puerto Madero (1998). Mandella has a record seven Native Diver victories.

Owned by Johanna Glen-Teven, Philatelist has won five of 26. The 6-year-old son of Rahy and the Polish Precedent mare Potent has earned $149,722. Philatelist hasn’t raced since finishing fourth as the 8-5 favorite in the Tokyo City Handicap March 27 at Santa Anita.

Trained by Kristin Mulhall for Sisters in Racing Stable and Jeff Siskin, Romp had an extremely rough trip in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon Nov. 5. The 6-year-old Incurable Optimist gelding out of the Hidden Prize mare Stormy Secret has won twice in three tries over Cushion Track, including a nose win in an Oct. 21 allowance Oct. 21 during the Oak Tree meet. The Argentine bred has won four of 42 and banked $221,643.

Completing the cast is Achak, who has won two of three since being claimed for $50,000 July 25 at Del Mar.

After finishing seventh in his first for trainer Mike Mitchell and owners Brown, Brown and Little Red Feather Racing, the 4-year-old gelding has won optional claimers over both Cushion Track and turf. The Irish bred son of Invincible Spirit and the Distant Relative mare She’s So Lovely has five wins in 20 races. His bankroll is $145,653.

From inside out, the field for the Native Diver Handicap: Philatelist, Garrett Gomez rides, 114 pounds; Romp, Mike Smith, 114; Soul Candy, Rafael Bejarano, 117; Aggie Engineer, Joe Talamo, 116; Dakota Phone, Joel Rosario, 123; Achak, Alonso Quinonez, 114 and Spurrier, Victor Espinoza, 115.




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