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Del Mar Preview & FREE Picks | Hollywood Turf Cup 2023: Speaking Scout Returns
Speaking Scout (Benoit Photo)

Del Mar Preview & FREE Picks | Hollywood Turf Cup 2023: Speaking Scout Returns

Aaron previews the 2023 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) from Del Mar, then gives his top picks & long shots from Friday’s feature event at the seaside oval.

Speaking Scout returns to the sight of his last victory – the 2022 Hollywood Derby (G1) – but can the Graham Motion trainee finally right the ship after finishing no better than 3rd in his past 7 starts? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

Eight long-winded runners will saddle up Friday for a mile and one-half tour of the Del Mar turf course in the 42nd edition of the Hollywood Turf Cup. The 12-furlong crucible carries a purse of $200,000 and Grade II status.

The Friday card will be off and running at 12:30 p.m. The Hollywood Turf Cup is the seventh of nine races on the afternoon with a likely post time of 3:30 p.m.

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The morning line favorite in the affair is Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ gelding Speaking Scout, who races out of the barn of trainer Graham Motion and again will draw the saddle services of top rider Juan Hernandez.

Hernandez teamed with the son of Mr. Speaker at Del Mar last December 3 to capture the Grade I Hollywood Derby, scoring by three-quarters of a length in the nine-furlong turf test. The now four-time winner packs the largest bankroll — $684,643 – of any of the runners who’ll go postward Friday and has been hung the 5/2 favorite for the feature.

The top two horses that Speaking Scout will have to deal with appear to be Peter Brant’s Francesco Clemente and Nguyen or Tran’s Balladeer.

The former comes out of the fertile barn of eastern-based ace trainer Chad Brown, who, since 2016, has won 13 stakes during the Bing Crosby Season with horses he has shipped in from the east. The 4-year-old colt is a son of the top international sire Dubawi and ships for the Turf Cup off an allowance win on the lawn at Aqueduct on October 19.  

The latter hails from the local barn of conditioner George Papaprodromou and actually outfooted Speaking Scout in the Grade II John Henry Turf Cup at Santa Anita on October 1. Balladeer is a front-runner and he’s likely the horse to catch in the Friday testing.

Here’s the full field for the Hollywood Turf Cup in post position order with riders and morning line odds:

  1. Francesco Clemente (Umberto Rispoli, 3-1)
  2. Kenneth Ramsey’s Yes This Time (Geovanni Franco, 15-1)
  3. Baalbek Corp or Don Alberto Stable’s Lukka (Ramon Vazquez, 6-1)
  4. Red Rafa Stud’s Planetario (Hector Berrios, 5-1)
  5. John O’Connor’s Astronaut (Mike Smith, 5-1)
  6. Balladeer (Victor Espinoza, 4-1)
  7. David Bernsen or Abbondanza Racing’s Eastern Ocean (Antonio Fresu, 15-1)
  8. Speaking Scout