Toccet had a good trip shipping in from the East Coast for Saturday's $200,000 Hollywood Futurity - then had an even better trip in the race, winning by a neck over Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Kafwain.
The victory was a bit of a vindication for Toccet, a son of Awesome Again. He fizzled badly in the Juvenile at Arlington Park, finishing ninth without making much of a run as Vindication won by 2 ¾ lengths over Kafwain.
Saturday, jockey Jorge Chavez put Toccet right into the race, tracking pace-setter Roll Hennessy Roll. When Kafwain surged to a brief lead, Toccet came back on the inside to finish a head in front. Kafwain was set down to fourth for interference at the top of the stretch, leaving Domestic Dispute to take place money and Coax Kid placed third.
Toccet ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.26.
Chavez said Toccet didn't much like the track surface. "But he was still fighting and he was able to come back again in the stretch after that other one got in front of us. It was amazing."
Victor Espinoza, who rode Kafwain, said he didn't think he caused enough of a problem to warrant the disqualification. But Kafwain's trainer, Bob Baffert, saw things differently. "I know when they turned for home and I saw that (the interference), I was like, 'If he's gonna win, he's gonna come down. I can't complain," Baffert said.
Despite urging from Toccet's trainer, John Scanlan, Baffert elected not to run Vindication in the Futurity. The likely Eclipse Award winner, a son of the late Seattle Slew, is getting a break before starting his 3-year-old campaign.
Five horses have run in the Hollywood Futurity and come back the following year: Gato del Sol, Ferdinand, Alysheba, Thunder Gulch and Real Quiet.
In other weekend racing:
Love those slot machines. Delta Downs put up $500,000 in loose change Saturday for the Delta Jackpot Stakes - hey, call a spade a spade! - and 10 2-year-olds lined up to try for the $300,000 first prize. They weren't all world-beaters but the best of the bunch at the end of the race was Outta Here. The Kentucky-bred Dehere colt rallied from seventh to catch Comic Truth in deep stretch and win by ¾ length. Cherokee's Boy was third. Outta Here, with Kent Desormeaux up, ran the 1 mile in 1:37.77.
Bedanken got the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Pago Hop Stakes and cut loose from the pack, winning off by 7 lengths over Dynamic Lady. Lush Soldier was third under the wire. Bedanken, a daughter of Geri, finished the about 1 mile on the turf in stakes-record time of 1:36.96. "At first she didn't handle the turf all that well," said winning rider Don Pettinger. "But as the race panned out, she began to take to it. On this turf course, you wait for the turn home and get your spot. I got my spot."
Kazoo upset Sunday's $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial Handicap, getting quickly to the lead and crossing the wire 2 lengths in front of Cojet. Gracie's Dancer was third and the favorite, Mountain General, finished fourth, creating huge show payoffs. Kazoo, a 4-year-old son of Mountain Cat, finished the 6 furlongs in stakes-record time of 1:09.38.
Hawthorne Race Course
Roy's Trigger stayed close to the early leaders in Saturday's $100,000 Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity, rallied three-wide at the head of the stretch and drew clear to win by 5 ¼ lengths. He's Hammered was second, Fax Dance third at 91-1 and the favorite, Tyler's Jewel, finished 10th of 11. Roy's Trigger, a son of Roy, finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:47.17 under Chris Emigh. Trainer Gene Cilio said Roy's Trigger has been improving since he was gelded. "He's a racehorse now," Cilio said. "He's a big, strong horse. He should only get better."
Surya got the lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $150,000 Dahlia Handicap for fillies and mares but couldn't hold off Tout Charmant and the two hit the wire in a dead-heat for the win. Honestly Darling, who set the early fractions, held on for third. The winners finished the 1 1/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:44.55. "I actually thought I won it by a head," said Tout Charmant's rider, Alex Solis. Pat Valenzuela, aboard Surya, commented, "I thought I won it outright."
Sunday, Echo Eddie had some traffic trouble with four rivals in the $70,000 Dayjur Handicap but still pulled clear in the stretch to win by 2 lengths over Rocky Bar. Slew of the Night was third. Echo Eddie, a 5-year-old Restless Con gelding, ran the 5 ½ furlongs on a fast track in 1:02.74 under Pat Valenzuela.
Calder Race Course
After a leisurely early stroll in Saturday's $100,000 Pete Axthelm Stakes for 3-year-olds, Stormy Roman came storming down the outside in the stretch to catch Swift Replica just before the wire. Miesque's Approval, also making a late bid, finished third, ¾ lengths back of Swift Replica. Stormy Roman, a son of Future Storm, ran 7 ½ furlongs on "good" turf in 1:29.28. "I thought I would win at the quarter pole because I had a lot of horse at that point," said winning rider Manuel Aguilar. Linda Shanty, assistant to trainer Tim Hills, said Stormy Roman likely will make his next start at Gulfstream.
An exacta you could sip on New Year's Eve: Cellars Shiraz moved by the leaders at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Frances A. Genter Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and drew off to win by 2 ½ lengths over Madeira Mist. May Gator was third. Cellars Shiraz, a daughter of Kissin Kris, finished in 1:29.45. "When she got to the outside, she was a different horse," said winning jockey Eibar Coa. "That's where she wants to be - outside and free."
Critical Eye ran by Ellie's Moment in the stretch drive to win Saturday's $100,000 Ladies Handicap by 1 ¼ lengths. With Ability, the favorite and early leader, faded to finish third, better than 6 lengths farther back. Critical Eye, a 5-year-old Dynaformer mare, got the 1 ¼ mile on a fast track in 2:04.19 and now is scheduled to head for Kentucky and the breeding shed. "She really ran lights-out," said trainer Scott Schwartz. "I'm glad it's over. She's done everything and then some. This is the way to go out." Trainer Mark Henning and jockey Aaron Gryder said With Ability might have been going a bit too far.
Tampa Bay Downs
Rain forced postponement of "opening weekend" until Tuesday. That was no big deal for Awesome Of Course, who already had been off four four months since Saratoga when he went to the gate for the Inaugural Stakes . Racing from just off the pace, Awesome Of Course got to the lead in the stretch, won by 1 length over Run For You and then survived an objection result from traffic in the stretch. Penthouse Promise was third. Owner Fred Brie said Awesome Of Course may be considered for the Florida Derby series at Gulfstream Park.
Daddy Cool had a calm, cool and slow ride around the Laurel Park track in Saturday's $50,000 Walter Haight Handicap. With Jozbin Santana up, Daddy Cool set fractions of 23 3/5 and 51 1/5. After that leisurely stroll, trailers Full Brush and All Things French weren't able to make up any ground on the leader and finished second and third, respectively. "They let me go pretty easily," Santana said." The final time for 9 furlongs was 1:49 4/5.
Horrible Evening got a wonderful trip in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes. The 4-year-old son of Evening Kris went right to the front and worked that advantage into a 2 ½-length victory over Dumanni of Course. Mail Call finished third. Horrible Evening ran the 9 furlongs in 1:52.81.
Siberland drew off in the stretch run of Saturday's $50,000 Arizona Juvenile Stakes to win by 4 ½ lengths over Jimmy O. Deputy Doc was third. Siberland, a California-bred son of Siberian Summer, ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:17.45.
Sam Houston Race Park
Saturday was the shortest day of the year - the winter solstice - and Ifyouprefersilver was the winner of the Winter Solstice Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The Silver Deputy miss dueled for the lead, then took on a challenge from late-closing White Scarf to win by ½ length. Bayakoa's Image was third. The days get longer and shorter, by the way, because Earth's axis is tilted 23 ½ degrees relative to its orbital plane around the sun.