Flores rides to a five-win day
Veteran jockey David Flores won with the first and last horse he rode Sunday at Hollywood Park and three others in between, making for a record-equaling day.
Flores’ final victory on the penultimate day of the autumn meet in Inglewood was the most significant.
Making his first appearance on the California-bred Romance Is Diane, Flores guided the 14-1 shot to a one-length upset over 11 other 2-year-old fillies in the $459,250 Hollywood Starlet.
Eighth of nine in her sprint debut when trained by Doug O’Neill, Romance Is Diane, a daughter of In Excess, is now perfect in three starts -- all around two turns -- for trainer Mike Mitchell.
Clearly, routing is what the full sister to 2001 Del Mar Derby winner Romanceishope wants to do.
Perhaps, now, after a Grade I stakes win, the public will give some respect to owner Senji Nishimura’s homebred. In her two other successes, she was 16-1 when she defeated maidens Oct. 6 at Santa Anita, then was 5-1 three weeks later when she won the California Cup Juvenile Fillies.
In matching Hall of Famers Eddie Delahoussaye and Chris McCarron, who had five-win days during the fall season in 1992 and 2001, Flores picked up his first Grade I victory at Hollywood Park since he won the 1996 Hollywood Gold Cup with Siphon.
“Not counting [Fairplex], I’ve won four races at Santa Anita and Del Mar before, but never more than that,” Flores said. “She was very professional and when I asked her to go she still had plenty left in the tank. It’s a great feeling.”
Having to spend time in the detention barn, which will be the case for all Mitchell horses until Jan. 30 because of a recent California Horse Racing Board ruling, didn’t bother Romance Is Diane.
“She was fine in there,” Mitchell said. “The detention barn is right next to my barn, but a new setting to the wrong kind of horse might have worked against her, but she did really well and she’s a very good filly to work with.
“She had a perfect trip. I kind of told David she doesn’t have to have the lead and she just loves to lay right off, and that’s what she did.”
Quick Little Miss, a 7-1 shot who had won the seven-furlong Moccasin about a month earlier, finished second and Down, the unlucky 3-1 second choice, was third.
A maiden making only her second start for owner Michael Bello and trainer Bobby Frankel, Down gave up too much ground at the break.
The daughter of Mr. Greeley rallied widest of all under jockey Alex Solis and was beaten only by 1 1/2 lengths for the top prize.
“As soon as the gate opened, she kind of spooked and just stood there,” Solis said. “It was very impressive the way she made up all that ground. It’s too bad, but there will be many other races.”
Mistical Plan, the 5-2 favorite, finished eighth.
Bishop Court Hill, the 7-2 second choice, led throughout to win the $110,600 Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct on Sunday. Owned by Eugene Melnyk and trained by Todd Pletcher, the 6-year-old Holy Bull gelding won by one length over 21-1 shot Santana Springs in the Grade III race. Ridden by John Velazquez, Bishop Court Hill, who won for the eighth time in 29 starts, ran the six furlongs in 1:09.23. Will He Shine, the 17-10 favorite who had won two in a row, finished third under jockey Ramon Dominguez.