October 21, 2018

Flamboyant totes top weight of 124 pounds in Hollywood Turf Cup

Veteran Flamboyant faces a battalion of talented four-year-olds in the Hollywood Turf Cup © BENOIT PHOTO

Friday’s $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) at Del Mar has attracted an eclectic cast of nine, ranging from divisional mainstay Flamboyant to Flintshire’s one-time pacemaker Inordinate, lightly raced improver Prime Attraction, New York-based blueblood Manitoulin, unexposed horse-for-the-course Chicago Style, and the filly Lottie here on an audible from trainer Graham Motion.

Flamboyant, the 124-pound highweight, hopes to break a losing streak dating back to February 2016. Briefly that winter, the French-bred reached peak form for Paddy Gallagher with back-to-back scores in the San Gabriel (G2) and San Marcos (G2). Flamboyant has yet to regain the winner’s circle, but he’s turned in several strong efforts in defeat. Since his third in last year’s Hollywood Turf Cup, he’s placed in four of six this campaign, including thirds in the Del Mar H. (G2) and Canadian International (G1) in his last pair. Flamboyant’s gaudy 109 BRIS Speed rating at Woodbine was influenced by a soft course, putting some doubt into his ability to back it up at Del Mar – where he’s winless in eight career tries. While the six-year-old veteran remains the most accomplished contender in the race, his penchant for minor awards prompts some caution.

Prime Attraction is one of the appealing four-year-olds capable of jumping up. By Unbridled’s Song and out of a close relative of Vindication, the Jim Cassidy trainee has steadily progressed this summer. After fourths in the Wickerr and Del Mar ‘Cap, he was just denied by a head in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2). Stablemate Prince of Arabia, a son of Mineshaft and Grade 2 winner Princess Haya, has yet to garner a turf stakes credit, but he rolled in an entry-level allowance in his only prior try at this 1 1/2-mile trip back in April.

Manitoulin, a son of Awesome Again and champion turf mare Soaring Softly, must be ready to make a splash at the graded level after three allowance victories this term, one at Keeneland and two at Belmont Park. Yet the Jimmy Toner pupil hasn’t quite transferred his good-looking efforts to a higher grade. An unlucky fourth in the Arlington H. (G3), he was most recently a wide, belated seventh in the Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland. Manitoulin gets a rider switch to Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who might be the key.

The Tom Proctor-trained Chicago Style warrants respect for his 5-for-7 career mark, and as a son of Kitten’s Joy, the Glen Hill Farm homebred should have more to offer at this distance. Two-for-two at Del Mar, Chicago Style cleared a couple of allowance conditions here over the summer and resumed with a closing fifth in the October 1 John Henry. He projects a ground-saving trip on the rail before tipping out for his one run.

Lottie wouldn’t have taken on males if she’d drawn better in Thursday’s Red Carpet (G3), but being marooned in post 14 gave rise to a re-think and a rerouting to this spot. The Arch filly fits from a BRIS Speed rating perspective, with her career best of 101 more than a match for most of them, and she gets in with 117 pounds (and Rafael Bejarano). Moreover, all three of her stakes placings have come at 1 1/2 miles, in the Waya (G3), River Memories, and Dowager (G3) last out. With no obvious stand-out among the males, Lottie merits the opportunity.

As if Lottie, Chicago Style, Manitoulin, Prime Attraction, and Prince of Arabia weren’t enough, yet another four-year-old is in with a shot – Tequila Joe. The Stormy Atlantic colt scored in a 1 3/16-mile Keeneland allowance and finished third in last summer’s American Derby (G3) for original trainer Mike Stidham. Sticking to a mile or thereabouts since resurfacing with Michael McCarthy this season, he missed narrowly in the November 2 Lure. The Pin Oak-bred is untested over this type of trip, but the descendant of turf star Possible Mate has a solid maternal half to support him.

It’s unfair to keep referring to Inordinate as Flintshire’s pacemaker, since he served in that capacity just once, and had the quality to be Group 3-placed in France. Sold for $65,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, the son of Harlan’s Holiday joined Richard Baltas on this circuit. Inordinate broke through with a victory in the San Juan Capistrano (G3), and after a holiday, finished fifth in the Del Mar ‘Cap and fourth in the John Henry. Now transferred to Jack Carava, he may benefit from the added ground.

Infobedad has generally been more of a dirt horse, even in his native Argentina, and his proclivity has followed him here. Thus his recent second to Destin in the Marathon (G2) on Breeders’ Cup Friday speaks well of his current form, but it’s unclear what that means for his prospects on the cutback in trip and return to turf – particularly when he’s been beaten by lesser on the surface. On the plus side, the Marathon was his first start off the claim for Neil Drysdale, and the Hall of Fame horseman might cajole something extra from him.

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