Hollywood Park Enjoys Solid Meet

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A farewell to Zenyatta and the rise of exciting 2-year-olds Comma to the Top and Turbulent Descent were among the highlights of Hollywood Park’s Autumn meet, which wrapped Sunday.

Despite heavy rain that caused racing to be cancelled after two races Sunday, Hollywood Park finished its 30th fall season with some encouraging attendance and handle results.

Buoyed by the appearance of Zenyatta and the inclusion of two Breeders’ Cup cards from Churchill Downs (Nov. 5-6), average daily attendance in Southern California was up 7.2 percent from 2009. Average daily handle generated in Southern California, including advance deposit wagering, was up eight per cent. The average per day was $4.187 million, compared to $3.875 million a year ago.

The average daily on-track attendance declined slightly (0.7 percent) and average daily on-track handle was down 2.1 percent. Wagering outside California on Hollywood Park races decreased by 15.2 per cent, resulting in a 4.2 per cent decline in average daily all sources handle. This figure went from $8.362 million in 2009 to $8.015 million in 2010.

“We were heartened by the overall results of the meet,’’ said Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau. “Wagering within California surpassed expectations in light of the 12.5 per cent unemployment rate in the state. Hopefully, the downward trend in wagering is bottoming out and the worst is now behind us. Santa Anita (which opens Dec. 26) should have a great meet.’’

Stabled at Hollywood Park throughout her glorious career, Zenyatta, who finished with 19 wins in 20 starts and earnings in excess of $7.3 million, was paraded Dec. 5 in front of an enthusiastic and very appreciative on-track crowd of more than 11,000. The 6-year-old mare, owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, left the following morning for Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky to begin a new chapter in her life.

Untried beyond seven furlongs when the meet began, Comma to the Top rattled off three stakes victories in a row around two turns, capped by a decisive score in the CashCall Futurity Dec. 18. The first Grade I for the Bwana Charlie gelding came after he had taken the Real Quiet Stakes Nov. 6 and the Generous Stakes – on turf – Nov. 27.

Those three wins, which ran his victory streak to five for owners Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara and trainer Peter Miller, earned Comma to the Top Horse of the Meet honors.

Successful in her debut during the inaugural Oak Tree/Hollywood Park season, Turbulent Descent wasted no time becoming a stakes winner. The daughter of Congrats followed a victory in the Moccasin Nov. 21 with a Grade I win in the Hollywood Starlet, proving she could handle more distance.

Trained by Mike Puype and owned by a partnership that includes Blinkers On Racing Stable and Bill Strauss, Turbulent Descent was the first filly to win both the Moccasin and Starlet, which was run Dec. 11.

The meet finished with a 10.6 per cent decline in on-track handle with an average of $945,000 while overall average handle was $7.8 million, a drop of 4.3 per cent. Average on-track attendance of 4,163 was down three percent and the total attendance average of 10,241 was off 2.5 percent from 2009.

Haimish Hy, an 11-1 longshot, made jockey Garrett Gomez a winner in his return to Southern California with a last-to-first victory in a thrilling renewal of the $250,000 Hollywood Derby Nov. 28.

The Derby, a Grade I, was the fifth and final race of the three-day Turf Festival. The other Festival winners included Gypsy’s Warning (Matriarch), Victor’s Cry (Citation Handicap), Comma to the Top (Generous Stakes) and Neversaidiwassweet (Miesque Stakes).

La Canada Stables topped the owners’ standings with eight victories. In terms of earnings, Barber, Birnbaum and Tsujihara led with $517,400.

Jockey Joel Rosario defended his crown with 47 winners, easily besting Rafael Bejarano, who finished with 35 victories. Rosario has won the last four meets at Hollywood Park. He was also the leading rider at Oak Tree/Hollywood Park.

Corey Nakatani, Comma to the Top’s regular partner, finished with a season high five stakes victories, one more than Rosario and Joe Talamo.

Doug O’Neill won his fifth Autumn training title. He had 16 wins, two more than Miller and defending champion John Sadler. Miller’s stable was tops with purses totaling $662,420.

Miller also tied Sadler and Jerry Hollendorfer for most stakes victories. Each had three.





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Really? Numbers are DOWN according to ESPN http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/horse/news/story?id=5939891

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