A capacity complement of 13 rivals, five of them shippers from the East, stands between 3-year-old colt Om and a “Derby Turf Triple” in Saturday’s $300,000 Grade I Hollywood Derby.
Knowing that, trainer Dan Hendricks, who set the Del Mar Derby, Twilight Derby, Hollywood Derby course for the Kentucky-bred son of Munnings last summer, remains optimistic. All three are grass events at the 1 1/8-mile distance.
“The biggest thing about it is, you don’t know if the horses shipping in are going to take to the course,” Hendricks said Friday morning from Santa Anita. “With that many (14) horses there can be troubled trips. But with our horse’s running style, he figures to be forwardly placed and clear of it. We think it’s going to set up well for him.”
Owned by the Sareen Family Trust, Om is one of only two horses to hang a loss on American Pharoah. It came at Del Mar on August 9, 2014 in the second career start for Om and the debut for American Pharoah, a 6 ½ furlong start on Polytrack which Om won by 7 ¼ lengths and American Pharoah finished fifth.
Om won his first turf start at Santa Anita in May of this year and was back on grass for a second in the La Jolla Handicap here in August and a 2 ¼-length victory in the Del Mar Derby in September.
Hendricks talked then of keeping the colt at the same distance and on the same surface for the Twilight Derby at Santa Anita, another 2 ¼-length win in October, and the Hollywood Derby. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has been aboard for the two recent Grade II victories and will be back in the irons on Saturday.
The five shippers among Om’s rivals are comprised of four from the New York stable of Chad Brown – Fundamental, Money Multiplier, March and Offering Plan – and Closing Bell from Eastern-based Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
Om has been training at Santa Anita and was scheduled to make the freeway trip south to Del Mar on Friday morning and school in the paddock in the afternoon.
“He’s trained and run well over the (Del Mar) course so it’s no problem to ship down and run,” Hendricks said. “It’s a lot closer than New York.
The field from the rail for the Hollywood Derby: Mister Brightside (Kent Desormeaux, 12-1), Sharla Rae (James Graham, 12-1), Vigilante (Joe Talamo, 20-1), Chiropractor (Corey Nakatani, 8-1), Om (Gary Stevens, 5-2), Fundamental (Victor Espinoza, 8-1), Crittenden (Mario Gutierrez, 20-1), Closing Bell (Jose Lezcano, 6-1), Soul Driver (Tyler Baze, 20-1), Money Multiplier (Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1), March (Rafael Bejarano, 10-1), Royal Albert Hall (Santiago Gonzalez, 20-1), Offering Plan (Mike Smith, 5-1) and Win the Space (Alex Solis, 20-1). Also eligible: Acceptance (Alonso Quinonez, 20-1).
Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club