Veteran trainer David Hofmans of Los Angeles, California knows a thing or three about saddling surprise winners of Breeders’ Cup World Championship races. In 2003, his filly Adoration lit up the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) pari-mutuel board with a 40-1 front-running romp. Five years later, Hofmans sent out 36-1 Desert Code to win the inaugural edition of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. And, in 1996, his 19-1 starter Alphabet Soup outran 3-5 racing legend Cigar in a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) shocker.
This year, Hofmans is heading into the $6 million Classic at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 5 with a hometown horse whose odds for the race also might venture into the double digits, despite his distinguished status as winner of the Breeders’ Cup host track’s two most elite Grade 1 races of the season.
Taking on both the more glamorous 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, unbeaten in six 2016 starts, which include March’s Dubai World Cup (G1) worth $10 million, and track record-setting Travers Stakes upstart Arrogate in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic will be Hofmans’ late-developing 5-year-old Melatonin. This gelding has won all four of his career starts to date on the main track in Arcadia, including this year’s prestigious Santa Anita Handicap (March 12) and Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (June 23) renewals.
The latter triumph represents Melatonin’s last racetrack appearance, due to the fact that he contracted a virus while being pointed towards the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar this summer, but Hofmans remains pleased with his EPM survivor’s progress since then. Sold for just $20,000 at Keeneland as a yearling, Melatonin boasts an impressive tab of nine solid workouts in the last two months.
So it is all systems go for this lightly-raced earner of $1,218,552 who is quick to show his affectionate nature to any visitors to his stall in Barn 76 at Santa Anita.
“He is just as intelligent as Alphabet Soup,” said Hofmans, who hopes to see his somewhat forgotten contender race to victory at the 2016 Breeders’ Cup with jockey Joe Talamo sporting the same Tarabilla Farms Inc. silks of stroke victim Susan Osborne that were carried home by Desert Code nine years ago.