East Coasters Done No Favors In Hollywood Derby Draw

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Gufo | Sarah Andrew

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Five horses based with powerhouse outfits on the East Coast have shipped into Southern California for Saturday's GI Hollywood Derby and in a cruel twist, they have been allocated the 'visitors' draw' in five of the six widest gates in what will be a field of 12.

Trainer Christophe Clement has never won the Derby, but he is double-fisted with a pair of high-quality turf sophomores. Gufo (Declaration of War) has won five of his seven trips to the post, having earned a maiden graded success in the GIII Kent S. at Delaware July 4 ahead of a narrow defeat at the hooves of Chad Brown's charge Domestic Spending (GB) (Kingman {GB}) in the Saratoga Derby Aug. 15. In his most recent appearance, he sprinted his final two furlongs in a wicked :22.60 off a slow tempo and he'll be the one they're gunning for, assuming Flavien Prat can work out a trip from the 12 hole. For his part, Brown has won two of this race's last four runnings.

Stablemate Decorated Invader, also a son of Declaration of War, has developed a fair bit of versatility this season, sitting relatively handy to the pace when winning the GIII Pennine Ridge S. and using a strong late kick to just miss catching front-running Get Smokin (Get Stormy) in the GII Hill Prince S. at Belmont Oct. 18. Mike Smith rides from stall eight.

Ever Dangerous (Kitten's Joy), whose sire accounted for 2015 Derby hero Chiropractor, is no stranger to an awkward gate, having overcome the 14 to cause a 74-1 upset in the Nov. 6 Bryan Station S. at Keeneland. Well held by the aforementioned trio earlier in the season, the dark bay colt has the 10 hole Saturday.

Meanwhile, the chief local hope, Smooth Like Strait (Midnight Lute) should enjoy the run of the race from his low draw. Winner of the GIII LaJolla H. going a mile over this course Aug. 9, the homebred was an alibi-free fourth as the 6-5 choice in the GIII American Turf S. at Churchill Sept. 5, but bounced back with a 1 1/2-length defeat of a troubled Scarto (Paynter) in the GII Twilight Derby at Santa Anita Oct. 18.

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