While the Classic enjoys top billing on Saturday’s 10-race program, the John Deere California Cup Distaff will garner plenty of notice as well as it attracted 22 fillies and mares, resulting in the race being split, to be run as races six and eight. The Distaff will be contested at 6 ½ furlongs down the Camino Real Turf Course and with the split of the race, bettors will be offered a total of six stakes on the afternoon.
Trained by Carla Gaines, John Scott, a gelded son of Bertrando owned by Harris Farms, comes off a game win in the one mile Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 4, a race run on Polytrack.
Fourth, beaten just 2 ¼ lengths by eventual Santa Anita Derby winner Lookin at Lucky in Santa Anita’s Grade I Norfolk Stakes as a 2-year-old in Oct. 2009, John Scott subsequently went to the sidelines and did not resurface until April 21, 2012 at Santa Anita.
Saturday’s Cal Cup Classic will be the first time John Scott has faced statebreds since winning the $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes at Del Mar in 2009.
John Scott figures to press the Classic pace or make the early lead under his regular pilot, Victor Espinoza, who was aboard for the Brubaker score and who has partnered with “John” in four of his lifetime victories. John Scott brings an impressive 8-5-1-0 mark and $301,304 in earnings to the Cal Cup party.
Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams’ homebred Rousing Sermon, 3-year-old colt by Lucky Pulpit, has faced America’s best 3-year-olds this year and will be taking on older competition for the first time in the Classic.
Conditioned by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Rousing Sermon’s best races have come when he is able to mount a late-charging rally from off the pace. A first-out Cal Bred maiden special weight winner on June 5, 2011, his most recent win came in the Bob Benoit Cal Cup Juvenile on Oct. 29. He has banked $477,000 from a 13-2-3-4 record.
Lucky Primo, a 6-year-old gelded son of Atticus, was second, beaten a neck in last year’s Classic and comes off a close fourth-place finish in a 1 1/16 miles allowance race at Del Mar on Aug. 30.
His best races have come on turf and Lucky Primo has two wins on synthetic surfaces as a 2-year-old, including the 2008 Cal Cup Juvenile. Owned by JBK Stables and Jason Litt, he has a forwardly-placed style that should ensure a solid pace. He has $332,616 in earnings from a record of 15-5-3-3.
Claimed for $25,000 in July, 2011, the 7-year-old gelding Holladay Road has made $183,432 this year alone. Trained by Julio Canani and owned by Gary and Wendy Broad, Holladay Road was third, beaten 1 ½ lengths by John Scott in Del Mar’s Brubaker on Sept. 1. He has $355,252 in career earnings and an 18-7-1-4 mark.
The complete field for the Lava Man Cal Cup Classic, presented by City National Bank, which will be run as the ninth on a 10-race card, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Holladay Road, Joe Talamo, 124; Got Even, Brice Blanc, 114; Rousing Sermon, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Woodmans Luck, Garrett Gomez, 117; Lucky Primo, Tyler Baze, 117; Thirtyfirst Street, Chantal Sutherland, 117, John Scott, Victor Espinoza, 124, and Accelerant, Edwin Maldonado, 117.
“The Golden State Series, which was initiated this year by the California racing industry, has helped bolster entries for this year’s Cal Cup and it is responsible for significant increases in purses for both of our 2-year-old stakes,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Racing Rick Hammerle. “Both the Bob Benoit Juvenile and the Keith Card Juvenile Fillies have had their purses bumped from $100,000 to $250,000 each. This is great news for the Cal Cup and for our game here in California.”
John Scott/Benoit photo