March 4, 2024

Program Trading proves best in Hollywood Derby

Program Trading strikes the front in his Hollywood Derby victory (Photo by Benoit Photo)

After sustaining his first career setback, Program Trading got back into the win column with a game score in Saturday’s 83rd running of the $301,000 Hollywood Derby (G1).

The 1 1/8-mile turf affair highlighted a trio of stakes at Del Mar, and Program Trading improved his career record to 5-4-0-0 while notching his second Grade 1 victory. The three-year-old colt rallied to overhaul pacesetter Silver Knott in the stretch and held off Webslinger by a neck, stopping the teletimer in 1:47.82 with Flavien Prat.

Chad Brown joined Hall of Famer Charlie Whittingham with a record-tying fourth Hollywood Derby win, and Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables earned their third success. Domestic Spending (2020) and Annals of Time (2016) also wore Klaravich’s colors, and Brown captured the 2018 edition with Peter Brant’s Raging Bull.

“He was actually pretty relaxed before the race,” Prat said. “We had a good trip; the pace was pretty fair. He relaxed well, he had a good turn of foot. Luckily there was a horse in front of me (Redistricting) that bolted around the turn so I had a clear path. As soon as I asked him to make a run, he was there for me. I think he will still improve. He has run well every time.”

Program Trading left the starting gate as the 9-10 favorite over six rivals. A five-length debut winner over Monmouth Park’s turf in mid-May, the English-bred son of Lope de Vega followed with a convincing allowance triumph at Belmont Park. The bay ridgling registered his initial stakes tally in the Saratoga Derby (G1) in early August, denying Webslinger by a head that afternoon, and Program Trading was exiting a runner-up to Integration in the Virginia Derby (G3) on Sept. 9.

He rated off the pace in sixth before launching his bid on the far turn of the Hollywood Derby.

“The pace was fast and he settled down a little bit on the backside,” assistant trainer Jose Hernandez said. “He was a little behind in the post parade. He was playing. I had him stay with the pony, make sure they’re okay. The horse, he’s been doing so well. We arrived Tuesday, he galloped three or four days. This is our routine, trying to win some races.”

Grade 2 winner Webslinger closed from last to make it exciting in deep stretch but could not catch the winner, winding up 2 1/4 lengths better than Silver Knott in third. Watsonville, Santorini, and Requist came next under the wire. Redistricting, Program Trading’s stablemate, was pulled up after bolting towards the outside rail off the far turn.

Bred by Fittocks Stud and Arrow Farm & Stud, Program Trading is the first stakes winner from the Oasis Dream mare Dreamlike.

Earlier on the program, Zona Verde made all the pace and sprung a 10-1 upset in the $102,500 Jimmy Durante (G3) for two-year-old fillies, winning by a length after never being seriously threatened on the front end. Juan Hernandez was up on the gray Irish-bred filly for Phil d’Amato.

Zona Verde rallied to break her maiden when making her U.S. debut, and fifth career start, in a Del Mar maiden special weight in early September and was exiting an off-the-pace sixth in the Surfer Girl (G3) at Santa Anita a month later. Making her second stakes attempt in the Jimmy Durante, she caught observers by surprise when flashing early speed, and the daughter of Calyx is campaigned by Benowitz Family Trust, McLean Racing Stables, and Michael Nentwig.

Zona Verde completed mile in 1:36.02 on firm turf.

Lady de Berry, the 17-10 favorite for Brown, rallied for second, a neck better than Yatta in third.

In the $101,000 Stormy Liberal S., Unconquerable Ken led at every point of call to record his first stakes win, scoring by 1 3/4 lengths with Prat. D’Amato trains the four-year-old gelding, who stepped five furlongs on turf in :55.87, and the Irish-bred improved his career mark to 15-6-1-2 for owners CYBT, Omar Aldabbagh, and Nentwig.