The 30th running Saturday of the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park closes the graded stakes racing season for 2-year-old thoroughbreds and could establish one of the 10 horses entered as the early West Coast favorite for the 2011 racing season.
Bob Baffert, who won the race last year with Lookin At Lucky and Pioneerof The Nile the year before that, does not have a horse in this race. Instead, favoritism goes to trainer Peter Miller’s Comma To The Top who heads the field as the 3-1 morning line favorite.
Comma To The Top has been on a roll, reeling off four wins since the first of October, and comes into the race with back-to-back stakes wins in the Real Quiet Stakes and Generous Stakes (G3).
In his previous four victories, Comma To The Top won going gate-to-wire. His win in the Real Quiet Stakes was also at Hollywood Park covering the same distance of 8 ½ - furlongs – which is probably the limit of his racing ability. Comma To The Top has decent speed. If he can break clean from post 10 and get the lead he should be competitive.
Comma To The Top is a descendant of the Nasrullah sire line and the last horse from that line to win the CashCall was River Special in 1992.
Two long shots that I like are Rustler Hustler (9-2) and Slammer Time (20-1).
Rustler Hustler will make his second start for trainer Rick Dutrow who ships him in for the race from Gulfstream Park. Rustler Hustler also comes into the race with back-to-back stakes wins – both of them on the turf.
In August, Rustler Hustler won the Continental Mile Stakes at Monmouth Park, defeating Pluck by a neck. Pluck was disqualified in that race for interference but came back in November to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs.
In October, Rustler Hustler won the Gnome’s Gold Stakes at Belmont Park by 1 ¾ - lengths.
Ecton Park, Rustler Hustler’s sire, was a multiple graded stakes winner and a decent middle distance runner who stretched out to win the 10-furlong Super Derby. His grandsire, Forty Niner, also was a multiple graded stakes winner and a good middle distance runner who finished second in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Rustler Hustler’s damsire, Cozzene, was a multiple graded stakes winner who was competitive at a mile up to 9-furlongs. Danzig Connection, the sire of Rustler Hustler’s second dam, won the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Ribot, the sire of his third dam, was a back-to-back Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner.
Rustler Hustler is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and since 1990 there have been four horses from that line to win the CashCall: Lookin At Lucky (2009), Pioneerof The Nile (2008), Point Given (2000) and Real Quiet (1997). (All of those horses were trained by Bob Baffert.)
Slammer Time, another descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line, comes into the race off of a narrow victory in the 8 ½ - furlong Bob Benoit California Cup Juvenile Stakes at the Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park.
His sire, Grand Slam, brings speed to the pedigree of Slammer Time but his damsire, In Excess, was a multiple graded stakes winner and a good middle distance runner who stretched out to set a new course record in the 10-furlong Suburban Handicap.
Grand Slam has 21 winners in 47 juvenile starters for 45 percent.
Industry Leader (7-2) is the morning line second choice and he comes into the race off a second-place finish to Premier Pegasus in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3).
Industry Leader is a descendant of Nasrullah and the Cherokee Run sire line which in recent years has produced War Pass, Musket Man and The Pamplemousse.
I always like to keep an eye on Cherokee Run sire line descendants when they stretch out to a route race and at 7-2 morning line odds, I’ll use Industry Leader in some of my exotic wagers.