INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It is still hard for trainer Jim Cassidy to believe that Golden Balls won his U.S. debut in the La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita in April.
Cassidy watched with awe as Golden Balls made up more than seven lengths in the last quarter-mile and four lengths in the final furlong of the one-mile turf race to win by a nose.
"You never know what you have until you go for it," he said. "He moved up so much in my mind."
Golden Balls will try to extend a two-race winning streak when he runs 1 1/8 miles on turf for the first time in Saturday's $150,000 Cinema Handicap for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park. If Golden Balls runs well, he could go in major stakes at Arlington Park and Del Mar this summer, Cassidy said.
"I think the distance will suit him better than a mile," Cassidy said. "He seems to be fit enough."
Cassidy said he gave Golden Balls a break after the La Puente to prepare for the summer turf stakes. The colt has worked regularly in the last month.
"I thought it was such a huge effort," Cassidy said of the La Puente. "I gave him plenty of time off."
What is lacking from the Grade 3 Cinema is speed. The field of eight lacks a confirmed front-runner. Level Red, who is making his turf debut, may lead. He was third in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March. Gweebarra, who won a six-furlong allowance race on turf on May 6 in his U.S. debut, may be near the front.
Aside from Golden Balls, three other horses enter the race on two-race winning streaks: Mr Eddie Boy, Tycoon Doby, and Worldly.
Mr Eddie Boy won a maiden race and the Alcatraz Stakes on turf at Golden Gate Fields in the spring. Tycoon Doby is making his stakes debut after winning two overnight races on turf.
Worldly is the biggest threat to Golden Balls. A gray gelding, Worldly has won both of his starts in this country - an allowance race at Santa Anita and the Grade 3 Will Rogers Stakes over a mile on turf here on May 19.
His trainer, Ben Cecil, does not fear a slow pace.
"The last two times there hasn't been a ton of pace and he rallied from off the pace," Cecil said. The distance, Cecil thinks, "should suit him well."
Worldly had mucus in his lungs after the Will Rogers, Cecil said. "I think we've got that under control," he said.