HOLLYWOOD TURF CUP | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/2 MILES (TURF)
Yvonee Jacques' Grandeur was favored to win the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last out off a nice half-length score in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby (formerly Oak Tree Derby) in his U.S. debut on November 2. The sophomore son of Verglas couldn't get the job done in that 1 1/4-mile contest, settling for second after being forced to run six wide into the stretch.
Saturday was a different story, though, as the gray gelding came powering down the center of the track to take the Grade 2, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup by three parts of a length over Interaction. That bay six-year-old had slipped through on the inside of pacesetter Slim Shadey in the lane but couldn't withstand the flying finish of Grandeur, who completed 1 1/2 miles over Hollywood's firm turf in 2:27 4/5 with jockey Garrett Gomez aboard.
"I wasn't happy with the horse I was following [Optimizer], I wanted to find my way around him and I thought about sliding my way through Slim Shadey but decided I didn't like that option," Gomez explained his ride aboard Grandeur. "As we approached the final turn I decided to take him outside of Optimizer and when I asked him he went on with it without a problem."
Sent off the 8-5 favorite in the Hollywood Turf Cup, Grandeur paid $5.20, $3.60 and $2.60 for his second victory on U.S. sod. Interaction saved ground on the inside but didn't have an answer to Grandeur's powerful finish.
"We had an absolutely perfect trip, we never had to leave the rail and everything opened up for us. He ran a winning race. He just got outrun," said Joe Talamo, who was in Interaction saddle.
Interaction was 2 1/4 lengths clear of Optimizer, who set the opening quarter-mile in :24 4/5 before allowing Slim Shadey to take over through splits of :49, 1:14 1/5, 1:39 3/5 and 2:04 1/5.
"I thought we were going to have an easy lead, but two of them went on with it. He's had a hard campaign as a three-year-old. He ran a good race and never gave it up. He showed he belongs," jockey Corey Nakatani remarked about Optimizer.
"I thought he ran well. He hung in there pretty well. He ran hard and he'll probably get a breather now. He'll ship to [Oaklawn Park] in the next day or two," added Optimizer's assistant trainer, John Sica.
Slim Shadey managed to hold onto fourth by a head over Fire With Fire, while Bourbon Bay, Tiz Gianni, Grassy, Kindergarden Kid and Private Affair completed the order under the wire.
Grandeur broke his maiden at Brighton as a juvenile, beating Bronze Angel, who would go on to win this September's Cambridgeshire Handicap. During his time overseas as a sophomore, the gelding won a pair of handicaps at Goodwood as well as a conditions race at Newbury in his final start before shipping stateside. His only two stakes attempts came on unsuitably soft ground, a seventh in the Group 3 Tercentenary at Royal Ascot and a third to the fillies Lay Time and Primevere in the Group 3 Winter Hill.
Paddy Gallagher took over saddling duties on Grandeur from Jeremy Noseda for this start, but will turn the reins back over to Noseda now.
"I really didn't do much with him. I didn't have to," Gallagher admitted. "This was his third graded race in six weeks. I'm just thankful that the owner left him with me. She lives in Europe and I believe the plan was to take him back there, depending on what he did today and eventually run him in Dubai. I'd sure like to keep him, but he's going back to Jeremy Noseda."
Now boasting a 6-3-1 mark from 12 career starts, Grandeur has accumulated $398,632 in lifetime earnings.
Bred by Mrs. Cherry Faeste in Ireland, Grandeur was sold for $115,455 as a Goffs Orby yearling. The gray is out of the winning Desert Sun mare Misskinta, who is herself a half-sister to the stayer Far Cry, hero of the Group 3 Doncaster Cup and runner-up in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup. This is also the immediate family of Group 3 vixen Dress Rehearsal. Further back, the female line has yielded a number of top-class runners for the Aga Khan, including champion Darjina, Darsi, Daryaba and Daryakana.