With the Southern California horse racing scene still buzzing after the performance of unbeaten Zenyatta in last weekend's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park opens its 27-day autumn racing season today, and the focus will be on identifying 2-year-olds who could be Kentucky Derby candidates.
Trainer John Sadler could have the most intriguing prospect in Sidney's Candy, who set a Del Mar record for 5 1/2 furlongs in his second start in August, then dropped out of training because of bucked shins.
Sidney's Candy returned to training on Monday, but Sadler doesn't know whether the horse will be ready for the biggest 2-year-old race of the meeting, the Grade I $750,000 CashCall Futurity at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 19.
A son of Candy Ride, Sidney's Candy has Sadler "very excited" about his potential. If Sidney's Candy can't make the CashCall Futurity, Sadler has candidates including Hurricane Ike and Dave in Dixie.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is the one to watch for top 2-year-olds. His potential Eclipse Award winner Lookin At Lucky finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and he has a group of improving horses coming up in stakes winners Macias, Marcello and The Program. And he has a first-time starter who might debut at the Hollywood Park meeting, Take Control, who's by A.P. Indy out of the 2002 horse of the year Azeri.
Baffert won last year's CashCall Futurity with Pioneerof the Nile, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby.
The Hollywood Park meeting runs through Dec. 20, with racing Wednesday through Sunday except for the final week, when it will be Thursday through Sunday. There's Friday night racing tonight and Nov. 20, with first post at 7:05 p.m. General admission will be free on Thursdays.
One of the biggest weekends for racing is Nov. 27-29. The Turf Festival features three Grade I stakes on the turf.
And track officials are discussing a day to honor Zenyatta, the unbeaten 5-year-old mare who's 14 for 14 and has been based at Hollywood Park.