Colonel John climbs ranks with win
Those looking for a star to emerge among the 2-year-old ranks in California may have gotten their wish Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Making his first start around two turns and only the third of his career, Colonel John won the $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes like a colt who could make a lot of noise in the coming months.
Taken off the moderate pace by jockey Corey Nakatani, the son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow accelerated quickly when a hole developed early in the stretch and went on to a comfortable win.
Owned by breeders WinStar Farm LLC and trained by Eoin Harty, the 7-10 favorite ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.92 in defeating Overextended and five others.
Colonel John had defeated maidens at seven furlongs Oct. 7 at Santa Anita after finishing second in his career debut Aug. 19 at Del Mar.
Bred to improve with more distance -- his dam (Sweet Damsel) is a daughter of multiple stakes-winning router Turkoman -- Colonel John didn’t disappoint Sunday. He will be favored, if he runs, in the $750,000 Hollywood Futurity, now sponsored by CashCall, on Dec. 22. The promising juvenile will have to be supplemented to the race.
A Grade I at 1 1/16 miles, the Futurity has been a springboard to either championships or future success for horses such as Declan’s Moon, Point Given, Real Quiet and Giacomo.
“He’s very talented,” Nakatani said. “It feels great to be on a horse like him. He’s developed nicely and the key today was getting him to relax.”
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela had his first winner in California in nearly a year when he directed first time starter El Gato Malo to an impressive victory in the seventh race at Hollywood Park.
Valenzuela, 45, on Saturday returned to racing locally for the first time since last Nov. 26. He had been sidelined because of rib and knee injuries and was recently granted a conditional license by the California Horse Racing Board to resume his career in this state.
The $500,000 Hollywood Derby, one of the two signature events of the upcoming three-day Autumn Turf Festival at Hollywood Park, could have a field of 11 when it is run Sunday.
A Grade I for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles, the Derby is headed by Nobiz Like Shobiz, who will try to give trainer Barclay Tagg his second consecutive win in the race. Tagg won a year ago with Showing Up.
The other Grade I on Sunday is the $500,000 Matriarch for fillies and mares at one mile.
The other races in the Turf Festival are the $400,000 Citation and $100,000 Generous on Friday and the $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express and $100,000 Miesque on Saturday.