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Soul Candy rallies for victory in California Cup Classic

On a day jockey Joe Talamo rode four winners, the 21st running of the California Cup focused attention on horses bred in California, and most unusual was that for the first time since 2006, no horses sired by the prolific Unusual Heat emerged victorious in seven stakes worth $700,000 at the Oak Tree meeting at Hollywood Park.

The richest race Saturday went to Soul Candy, a 4-year-old gelding by former East Coast sprinter Birdonthewire who rallied in the stretch to overtake Unusual Suspect and win the $150,000 California Cup Classic by 1 1?4 lengths under jockey Rafael Bejarano.

It was Soul Candy’s first race on a surface other than turf, and the win at 1 1/8 miles pleased trainer Paddy Gallagher.

“He’ll be more of a distance horse,” Gallagher said. “He keeps going steady.”

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It was a good day for Talamo, who was sidelined for two months after suffering a broken wrist in a spill at Del Mar in August. That injury cost him dearly. He has been trying to regain his lost mounts but isn’t scheduled to ride at the Breeders’ Cup next weekend.

Cost of Freedom led off the day for Talamo with a 6 1?4-length victory in the $100,000 Sprint, running the fastest six furlongs of the Oak Tree meeting in 1:08.58.

“I didn’t have to do anything except steer him in the right direction,” Talamo said. “He just strutted his stuff.”

Talamo then won with two first-time starters: Arresting Officer, a 2-year-old colt, and Short Memo, a 3-year-old gelding, in non-California Cup races.

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Win No. 4 for Talamo came in the $100,000 Mile on the turf, when Bruce’s Dream rallied in the stretch to overtake Colgan’s Chip by a neck.

“What a day,” Talamo said. “I wish it was always like this. He’s such a nice horse, and it’s always such a pleasure to ride him. He lays it down every time.”

Bruce’s Dream is a 4-year-old gelded son of Atticus who has won six of eight starts for trainer Mike Puype.

“Look at his determination, look at his record. He runs to win,” Puype said.

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And Puype is equally sold on Talamo. He chooses to use him for many of his horses.

“If you’ve ever seen a kid work harder … the injury was brutal to him,” Puype said. “He was sitting on a lot of live mounts and lost them. I just think he’s the real deal. I think my loyalty will pay off later when he’s in demand. He hasn’t turned 21. He’s going to get physically more mature.”

La Nez, a 3-year-old filly, won the $100,000 Distaff at six furlongs on the turf, beating Perfect Vintage by 1 3?4 lengths under Victor Espinoza, who also won the $75,000 Juvenile Fillies with Swiss Wild Cat by a nose over California Nectar.

Ultra Blend took the $100,000 Matron by half a length over Lady Railrider. Slammer Time won the $75,000 Juvenile.

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Zenyatta gets ready

Unbeaten Zenyatta had her final major tuneup for Saturday’s $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic, going six furlongs at Hollywood Park in 1:11.80. Zenyatta has won 19 consecutive races.

“I thought it was brilliant, better than last year before the Classic,” jockey Mike Smith told the Daily Racing Form.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com


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