Champs Elysees Red Hot at Hollywood Park
With a purse of $250 000, the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup attracts a number of well known racehorses each year. It is a horse racing event for three year old horses and older. In 1991, the first and only filly to ever win the Hollywood Turf Cup, Miss Alleged, crossed the finished line. The legendary horse racing phenomenon, John Henry, also found victory in this event in 1983. On Saturday, 6 December 2008, it was time for Champs Elysees to be crowned victorious at Hollywood Park Racecourse.
Champs Elysees had a terrible streak of bad luck in the last few months, only being able to win two of his nine starts prior to the Hollywood Turf Cup. Falling ill during summer, it seemed that racing was just not going his way. But on Saturday, a whole new horse seemed to emerge under the guidance of jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. as he surged forward and held off the worthy competitor, Obrigado, to secure a fourth victory at this event for trainer Bobby Frankel.
There were eight competitors in the starting gates on Saturday and as the gates swung open, Champs Elysees broke well. Jockey Valdivia settled him down in sixth position, while Mr. Chairman took the lead, followed closely by Winchester. They bided their time until the final turn when Valdivia asked Champs Elysees to use his reserved energy, and came up the inside, found a gap between his fellow competitors and took the lead effortlessly. Because of Valdivia’s ground saving route throughout the race, Champs Elysees had more than enough stamina and strength left to hold off the attack by Obrigado to cross the finish line in first position, followed by Obrigado, Church Service, Black Mamba, Mr. Chairman, Winchester, High Heel Sneakers and Rush Rush.
After the race, Jose Valdivia Jr. spoke to the press about his confidence in Champs Elysees and his joy when he heard he had secured the chance to ride a horse he had been looking at for some time. He went on to say: “Even though this was my first time riding him, I worked him many times in the morning and watched him win a couple of times. So I know the class that he has. I got to save ground all the way around. I felt like Street Sense in the Kentucky Derby (G1).” Trainer Bobby Frankel has speculated that Champs Elysees will probably remain in training, and expressed his excitement at witnessing such a great victory. After winning his latest race at Hollywood Park Racecourse, Champs Elysees has pushed his career earnings to over $1.3 million.