THE $700,000 MATRIARCH -- THE RACE FOR THE ECLIPSE
BREEDERS' CUP-CALIBER MATRIARCH HAS IT ALL
An Eclipse Award hangs in the balance as a stellar cast prepares to do battle in Sunday's $700,000 Matriarch (Gr. I), which will be televised live from 3 - 4 p.m. on ESPN.
"This is the Breeders' Cup for fillies and mares on grass," trainer Marty Jones said. "This is the championship game. All the top horses that have done a little bit have turned up in one spot. This race will decide the Eclipse Award."
Jones will send Auriette to post with hopes of turning the tables on Timarida, Sunday's likely favorite, who defeated Auriette in the Beverly D (Gr. I) this summer at Arlington.
"The Matriarch is such an important race," said John Oxx, conditioner of Timarida. "The Eclipse Award is a very prestigious thing to win, and that would be very nice as a bonus if she could win The Matriarch. But, she has to win the race first."
Trainer Wally Dollase, who won an Eclipse with turf horse Itsallgreektome in 1990, is hoping to duplicate the feat with his mare Windsharp.
"This is the best group of mares in America," Dollase said. "Whoever wins the Matriarch deserves the Eclipse."
Trainer Bobby Frankel has saddled Wandesta to third-place finishes in the last two runnings of the turf classic for fillies and mares.
"I think whichever filly wins this race will take the Eclipse Award," Frankel said. "Timarida, Memories of Silver, Windsharp -- they're all here. Whoever gets it will win the Eclipse."
Richard Mandella will saddle Yellow Ribbon (Gr. I) third-place finisher Dixie Pearl on Sunday seeking his first Matriarch victory.
"It's a very tough race," Mandella said. "But this is the only Matriarch around. If you've got a good turf horse, this is where you'd better be."
Memories of Silver, a $30,000 supplement, will carry the hopes of her trainer James Toner.
"The championship is out there for the taking," said Toner. "Whoever is the best will get it. The only problem is this is one of the toughest fields I've seen in a long time. It's the toughest Matriarch I've ever seen."
The Matriarch could bring together as many as ten Grade I winners. Comparatively, the Breeders' Cup Classic starting gate held eight Grade I winners, and the Breeders' Cup Turf had eleven.
"Whoever wins this race deserves to be the Eclipse Award winner," Toner said. "The Matriarch has what the Breeders' Cup is lacking. There should be a turf race (in the Breeders' Cup) for fillies and mares. In The Matriarch, we have an international field of horses -- the best fillies and mares in the world -- running in this race on the first of December. This is clearly what the Breeders' Cup is supposed to have. . .but I'm sure glad that Hollywood Park is having it."
STEVENS HOPES DUDA CAN RETURN TO MATRIARCH WINNER'S CIRCLE
Duda, although winless this year, will defend her title in The Matriarch (Gr. I) for trainer Bill Mott. Jockey Gary Stevens, who will have the mount aboard Duda, hopes she can find the right gear in Sunday's $700,000 contest.
"Bill Mott is bringing her out here for a reason," Stevens said. "Last year some people were questioning why she was in the field, and she went off at 30-1. But look what happened."
Last year Duda prevailed by a length in a blanket finish that included ten runners within three lengths of her at the wire.
"Maybe Bill thinks she's been getting really good in the fall," Stevens said. "You see that with a lot of fillies. Obviously he knows what he's doing."
In other developments:
Windsharp worked four furlongs in :49 2/5 Wednesday morning at Hollywood.
Real Connection drilled five furlongs in :59 4/5 for trainer Mel Stute.
Probables for the 16th running of the $700,000 Matriarch, to be run at 3:42 p.m. Sunday, for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles over the turf: Alpride, Chris McCarron; Auriette, Kent Desormeaux; Bail Out Becky, no rider; Dixie Pearl, Rene Douglas; Duda, Gary Stevens; Hollywood Dream (s), Cash Asmussen; Memories Of Silver (s), Robbie Davis; Olimpia Dukakis, Alex Solis; Real Connection (s), Laffit Pincay Jr.; Timarida, John Murtagh; Wandesta, Corey Nakatani, and Windsharp, Eddie Delahoussaye.
BOND TO SADDLE OK BY ME IN $500,000 CROWN ROYAL HOLLYWOOD DERBY
Trainer H. James Bond hopes Ok by Me will gun down his competition in the $500,000 Crown Royal Hollywood Derby (Gr. I) on Sunday.
"He turned back a nice field of older horses in his last," Bond said of his 1 1/2-length victory in the Sky Classic Handicap (Gr. I-Canada). "He ran a tremendous race. It was a tough spot, on the day before the Breeders' Cup, and he won for fun."
The gelded son of With Approval has won in Canada, New York and Florida in 1996.
"He's won four graded stakes this year -- he's done everything right," said Bond, who named Jorge Chavez to ride on Sunday. "He's doing great right now. He just worked yesterday (Tuesday) and went (five furlongs) in :59 4/5 in the slop."
Probables for the $500,000 Crown Royal Hollywood Derby, to be run at 3:12 p.m. Sunday, at 1 1/8 miles over the turf: Astor Place (s), Cash Asmussen; Currency Arbitrage, no rider; Devil's Cup, Kent Desormeaux; Jirhan, Alex Solis; Lago (s), no rider; Le Triton (s), Chris McCarron; Marlin, John Velasquez; Mystic Knight, Rene Douglas; New York New York, no rider; Ok by Me, Jorge Chavez; Rainbow Blues, Corey Nakatani; Take A Left (s), Corey Black; The Barking Shark, Michael Hunter; Trail City, Pat Day, and True Flare, Gary Stevens.
HOLLYPARK UMBRELLA GIVEAWAY SUNDAY
Fans attending The Track of the Lakes and Flowers on Sunday, Dec. 1 -- final day of the $2.15-million Turf Festival, featuring the $700,000 Matriarch and $500,000 Crown Royal Hollywood Derby -- will receive a free Hollywood Park umbrella with a paid admission while supplies last.
The sleek black and white paneled umbrella -- equipped with an automatic opener, quality water-resistant nylon, protective tips and a simulated wood horse head handle -- features a specially-designed Hollywood Park illustration.
TURF FESTIVAL WEEK POST TIMES
Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28 11 a.m.
Friday, Nov. 29 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 30 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 1 12:30 p.m.
WILD ZONE LOOKS TO GO OUT A WINNER IN FRIDAY'S HOLLYWOOD TURF EXPRESS
Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye hopes Wild Zone has saved his best for last in Friday's $200,000 Hollywood Turf Express (Gr. III) at 5 1/2-furlongs on the grass.
"They are going to retire him after this," Delahoussaye said. "So we have to win so he can go out a winner."
Wild Zone, who has won nine races and earned $509,973 through 26 starts, will be retired to stud in Kentucky following the race.
In his last start, the son of Wild Again finished second to Comininalittlehot in the Morvich Handicap on Oct. 27 at Santa Anita.
"He ran great last time," Delahoussaye said. "He didn't stop. He only got beat a length. He has tremendous natural speed. There's not much strategy with him, you just go."
Wild Zone ran head and head with Sandtrap through fractions of :21 2/5 and :42 4/5 in the 6 1/2-furlong Morvich.
"I think the shorter distance might help us," Delahoussaye said. "They were moving along pretty good last time. But that was down the hill and over that fast turf (at Santa Anita)."
Post positions from the rail out for the $200,000 Hollywood Turf Express, to be run Friday at 5 1/2 furlongs over the turf: Cyrano Storme, Rene Douglas, 118; Promising Wonder, Brice Blanc, 111; Wild Zone, Eddie Delahoussaye, 116; Uncaged Fury, Julio Garcia, 113; Ski Dancer, Gary Stevens, 114; Track Gal (s), Chris McCarron, 119; Suggest, Kent Desormeaux, 113, and Sandtrap, Alex Solis, 113.
STEVENS, LUKAS HOPE FOR CLEAR PATH IN FRIDAY'S MIESQUE STAKES
Gary Stevens hopes for clear sailing as he pilots Bob and Beverly Lewis' Montecito in Friday's $200,000 Miesque Stakes (Gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies. In her last race, Stevens had to navigate through a flock of ducks that darted in front of the field in the Jim Hill Stakes, which Montecito captured by 4 1/2-lengths.
"I don't know how things would have turned out without the ducks," said Stevens, who was hit in the head by one of the ducks. "But anytime you get a 2-year-old going a route and they finish as strong as she does, you've got a big shot."
In the Jim Hill, the daughter of Seeking the Gold captured her first stakes win for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
"I didn't really think she would route as well as she has," Stevens said. "But in her early races, her style really hadn't established yet. We forced speed into her, but now her best style is coming off the pace."
Post positions from the rail out for the $200,000 Miesque Stakes (Gr. III), to be run Friday at one mile over the turf: Pun (s), Brice Blanc, 114; Rexy Sexy, Kent Desormeaux, 121; Wealthy, Chris McCarron, 116; Cozzy Flyer, Rene Douglas, 114; Critical Factor, Alex Solis, 114; Montecito (s), Gary Stevens, 121; Clever Pilot, Julio Garcia, 118; and Ascutney, Eddie Delahoussaye, 116.
DIVINE INSIGHT READY FOR SATURDAY'S $250,000 GENEROUS
East Coast shipper Divine Insight will tackle the country's top 2-year-old turf runners in Saturday's $250,000 Generous Stakes (Gr. III).
"He ran a tremendous race in Canada," trainer H. James Bond said of his Sept. 15 effort. "He was third in his most recent turf race. He ran very wide on both turns and it was over a real soft turf."
The son of St. Jovite finished tenth last out, in the Champagne Stakes (Gr. I) at Belmont Park, his main track debut.
"He's just not a dirt horse," Bond said. "He's a real nice colt on the turf."
In other developments:
Steel Ruhlr zipped four furlongs in :46 3/5 Wednesday morning.
Probables for the $250,000 Generous Stakes (Gr. III), to be run Saturday at one mile on the turf: Bagshot (s), Alex Solis; Churchland (s), Julio Garcia; Demolition Man (s), no rider; Divine Insight, Kent Desormeaux; Falkenham (s), Eddie Delahoussaye; Hello (s), Chris McCarron; Oakhurst, Michael Hunter; Play Waki for Me, Rene Douglas; Serotonin (s), Gary Stevens; Seventh Slew, no rider; Steel Ruhlr, no rider, and Zippersup, no rider.
SMOOTH RUNNER RETURNS FROM BREEDERS' CUP IN SATURDAY'S $300,000 CITATION
Smooth Runner will try to rebound from his eleventh-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile (Gr. I) in Saturday's $300,000 Citation Handicap (Gr. II).
"The ground was really soft up at Woodbine," trainer Richard Mettee said. "He never went well over it. He handles the turf much better here at Hollywood. He worked really well on Monday with Alex Solis up."
The son of Local Talent has been lightly raced this season, making his fourth start of the year in the Mile.
"I really wanted a fresh horse for the Breeders' Cup," Mettee said. "I wouldn't change anything. I thought I had a legitimate shot and took it. It just didn't work out. We'll probably do the same thing next year with the Breeders' Cup here."
Probables for the $300,000 Citation Handicap (Gr. II), to be run Saturday at 1 1/8 miles on the turf: Beau Jingles (s), no rider, 115; Eltish, Kent Desormeaux, 113; Gentlemen, Gary Stevens, 119; Helmsman, Chris McCarron, 119; Silver Wizard, Julio Garcia, 115; Smooth Runner, no rider, 115, and Via Lombardia, Eddie Delahoussaye, 113.
FINISH LINES: Apprentice jockey Royston Ffrench, 21, who rode for Luca Cumani and piloted 14 winners this summer in his native England, has been named on two mounts for Friday: Super Glide in the fourth and Paid Entertainer in the tenth. Ffrench intends to ride through the winter before returning to England. Agent Nick Cosato is handling his book . . . Swiss Yodeler went one mile in 1:40 1/5 Wednesday morning . . . Criollito drilled six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 at Santa Anita . . . Urgent Request breezed five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 at Santa Anita . . . Isitingood and Savinio will make their next start in Friday's Clark Handicap (Gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
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