The Grade 1, $300,000 Hollywood Derby will run Saturday for the fourth time at Del Mar after the closing of Hollywood Park. The 1 1/8-mile turf stakes is restricted to 3-year-olds.
The legendary Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker won this race eight times from the years 1951 to 1986. In 2014, California Chrome secured the Horse of the Year title with a victory in his first career turf start in the Hollywood Derby. Chrome had been on a three-race losing streak in the Belmont Stakes, Pennsylvania Derby and Breeders’ Classic and needed a win.
This year’s Hollywood Derby is a rematch of the Twilight Derby (G2), which was run at Santa Anita on Oct. 28. Six horses from that field of nine are back to meet up with three others at Del Mar, where the “Turf Meets the Surf.”
Here’s a look at the field with odds by Horse Racing Nation:
Ann Arbor Eddie [25-1 – Square Eddie – O’Neill/Gutierrez – 11: 4-1-1 – $362,759] This chestnut has run at five different tracks on both the East and West coasts in his past five starts, including a seventh-place finish in the Twilight Derby. That was his first career turf start, where he was well beaten and without any excuse. Up Against It
Bowie’s Hero [6-1 – Artie Schiller – D’Amato/Desormeaux – 9: 4-0-2 – $255,325] This colt completes the trio that finished in the top three spots in the Twilight and Del Mar derbys. Bowie’s Hero has run every one of his races on the grass and has dabbled in graded stakes company getting third in his last two tries. He will have to turn the tables on both Sharp Samurai and Big Score to get to the winner’s circle. Needs to Step Up
Channel Maker [7-1 – English Channel – Mott/Castellano – 12: 2-2-2 – $385,120] This Bill Mott trainee came west for the Twilight Derby and finished fourth. One of his two wins was in a restricted stake at Woodbine, where he has done his best running. As with many others in this field, he likes to make a closing move. He will need to step up to be a contender in this Derby. Must Show More
Sharp Samurai [9-5 – First Samurai – Glatt/Stevens – 9: 6-0-0 – $465,870] Sharp Samruai is likely to be an odds-on favorite at post time and deservedly so. He is the winner of his last four starts with the most recent trio in graded stakes company. He has won while closing from off the pace and last time on the lead. He and veteran rider Gary Stevens have become a formidable team. Sharp Samurai’s versatility will make him very hard to beat. Top Choice
Ritzy A. P. [30-1 – English Channel – Blacker/Van Dyke – 10: 2-3-1 – $121,895] This Dan Blacker trainee will be making his sixth start in the past three months with the most recent being a Nov. 3 allowance at Del Mar. He was a well-beaten sixth in the Del Mar Derby back in September. This one seems to be in the race to fill the field. Legitimate Longshot
Souper Tapit [12-1 – Tapit – Casse/Lezcano – 6: 2-0-1 – $90,368] The Casse and Live Oak Plantation team found great success this year on the turf with World Approval. The most lightly raced horse in the field won the Marine (G3) on the artificial surface at Woodbine. He made his first turf start in a stake at Belmont and followed that with a third in an Aqueduct grass allowance. This son of Tapit has some talent, but just may not be ready to compete with these. Talented, But Light on Experience
Mo Town [8-1 – Uncle Mo – A. Dutrow/Velazquez – 8: 3-1-1 – $329,600] Mo Town took a swing at the Kentucky Derby Trail with good results as a juvenile. This year he was not able to win on the dirt, so Dutrow tried him on the grass at Belmont Park in October in a second level allowance on the grass and he ran off to a six-length win. He may have found a home on the turf. Is Grass the Answer?
Just Howard [15-1 – English Channel – Motion/Lynch – 10: 4-2-1 – $266,865] Graham Motion sent this son of English Channel to the Twilight Derby after winning four straight on the grass of the Maryland tracks including a grade three at Laurel. He could not keep up at Santa Anita and finished sixth. Just Howard will need to run a lot better to compete here. Staying in the Deeper Waters
Big Score [3-1 – Mr. Big – Yakteen/Prat – 10: 3-4-1 – $476,300] – Big Score has run every race on the turf including the Twilight Derby, where he was second to Sharp Samurai. He also finished just behind Sharp Samurai, the race before, in the Del Mar Derby (G1). Big Score has been running exclusively in graded stakes company, frequently hitting the board. Can the third time be the charm against his nemesis? Classy Turf Runner
Summary: It seems very likely that the winner of the Hollywood Derby will come from the top Twilight Derby trio with Sharp Samurai as a very deserving favorite. I give Mo Town a legitimate chance to keep that group from sweeping the board again. He may have a bright future on the grass and this Del Mar stake provides a great opportunity to prove it. I’ll use Mo Town in the exacta and trifecta.
Exacta – Sharp Samurai, Big Score, Bowie’s Hero with Mo Town
Trifecta – Sharp Samurai, Big Score, Bowie’s Hero with Mo Town with Sharp Samurai, Big Score, Bowie’s Hero