Eliska (pronounced el-ish-ka) Kubinova, a riding sensation this year at Emerald Downs and Portland Meadows, makes her Betfair Hollywood Park debut Sunday. And what a way to begin. She’ll be in the Zenyatta colors aboard Valeria in the ninth race for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs.
Kubinova, a 23-year-old from Jesenik in the Czech Republic, spent three years in a Prague riding school before her wanderlust took over. She did some traveling in Europe and then accepted an opportunity to be an exchange student at Syracuse University. After six months in New York, she wanted to see more of the United States and left for Seattle. Her love of horses brought her to Emerald Downs, where she started getting on horses in the morning. Within a year she got her first mount and three rides later picked up her first victory September 10, 2011,
She went on to Portland Meadows, where she quickly caught on and posted 66 winners. It was at Emerald Downs earlier this year where she really took off.
She wound up winning 76 races, an Emerald record for an apprentice, from 416 mounts. She also had 71 seconds and 61 thirds, meaning her mounts were in the money an even 50 per cent of the time.
The travel bug struck her again and she was especially curious to see California, Los Angeles in particular. Shy by nature, Kubinova began wandering around the backstretch asking trainers to work some horses. Her agent, George Ortuzar, picks up the story.
“She was working horses and was a complete unknown,” said Ortuzar, who doubles as promotions director at Betfair Hollywood Park. “Several riders were talking and asking ‘who is that cute jockey?’ I went up and introduced myself and asked if she had an agent. I agreed to represent her and now she’s been working horses for some top barns such as Julio Canani, John Shirreff and Paula Capestro.
Now comes the acid test. Valeria is the 3-1 favorite on the morning line and will break from post eight.
SADLER ROCKETS TO EARLY LEAD IN TRAINER STANDINGS
John Sadler entered the Betfair Hollywood Park meeting two winners short of 2,000 victories in North America. He didn’t let the suspense build long.
The 56-year-old trainer sent out Kettle Corn for a popular victory opening day, then reached the milestone in the first race the next day when Rooster City returned from a layoff to go gate-to-wire. Later that afternoon Sadler scored with Distort This in the sixth race and Candy Trophy in the eighth, making him 4-for-4 at the young meet and placing him at the top of the trainer standings. Sadler is fifth all-time at Betfair Hollywood Park with 647 wins.
A pair of Hall of Famers, Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer are right behind with three wins each.
On the jockey side, Martin Garcia, who rode Carving to victory in Saturday’s Real Quiet Stakes, and Edwin Maldonado,. who tripled Saturday, are atop the standings with four wins apiece. Rafael Bejarano, leading rider here serevent during the Spring/Summer meet, is third after a triple Friday.
VETERANS SHINE AT BETFAIR HOLLYWOOD PARK
Saturday was old timer’s day at Betfair Hollywood Park
In the fourth race, 8-year-old Dance With Gable snuck through along the rail under Edwin Maldonado and went on to a 2 ¼ length victory. The California bred son of Dance Floor was winning for the 16th time in 52 starts and returned $25 for trainer Ted H. West.
One race later, Chilean bred Porfido was not to be outdone. The 10-year-old rallied from last to defeat $25,000 claimers on tue turf, giving Julien Leparoux his first victory of the meet. Porfido paid $9.60. The senior citizen double returned $109.20.
EARLY RUNDOWN ON TURF FESTIVAL
The field for the Grade 1, $250,000 guaranteed Hollywood Derby, the anchor race of the Hollywood Turf Festival (Nov. 23-25), is starting to take shape.
Considered probable for the 1 1-4 mile turf event, which will be run Nov. 25, are Devereaux & Gross’ Big Bane Theory (trainer Carla Gaines), Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket (Ken McPeek), Yvonne Jacques’ Grandeur (Jeremy Noseda), Reddam Racing’s Handsome Mike (Doug O’Neill), Team Valor’s Lucky Chappy (H. Graham Motion), West Point Thoroughbred’s Twilight Eclipse (Thomas Albertrani), and Lackland Farm’s Unbridled Command (Tom Bush).
Possibles are Moyglare Stud Farm’s Speaking of Which (Dermot Weld) and Black Rock Stable LLC’s Time Lord (Marty Jones). Late nominations will be accepted on or before Thursday, Nov. 15.
CLOSING STRIDES —The theme was “spread the wealth” opening day as eight different jockeys won all eight races. Fans of repeat numbers also did well Thursday as the first Pick Three was 1-1-1 and races 5-7 were taken by the number 9……..Julien Leparoux will be at Churchill Downs Saturday to ride Centre Court in the Grade 2, $175,000 Mrs. Revere Stakes and King David in the Grade 3, $100,000 Commonwealth Turf……Trainer Julio Canani will try for early birthday presents Sunday with Rock Off in the 5th race and Secret Motive in the 6th. The affable Peruvian turns 74 Tuesday……In his first mount back from suspension Eswan Flores almost blew up the tote board when he rode Prized by Buck to a second place finish. The first time starter went off at 98-1 and returned $78.60 to place……A large majority of the 2,409 participants in Show Me the Money were eliminated Saturday, the first day of the popular contest. A total of 833 players remained alive going into Sunday’s program.
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