Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hollywood Park kicks off Turf Festival on Friday

 Your Special Day, entered in Friday's Miesque Stakes, gallops at Santa Anita Tuesday morning.

Hollywood Park celebrates its annual Turf Festival this weekend, featuring six graded stakes races on the grass over the three days, with purses totaling more than $1-million.

On Friday, fillies and mares are the stars in the $250,000 Matriarch and the $100,000 Miesque Stakes.

A field of eight two-year-old fillies is assembled for the Grade 3 Miesque at one mile, including several out-of-state shippers. Shippers have been dominant in recent years in the Miesque, including wins by The Mallet (2009), Habaya (2008), Sea Chanter (2007), Valbenny (2006) and Louvain and Paddy’s Daisy (2004).

Assateague, a daughter of Stormy Atlantic and the Dixieland Band mare Amelia, arrived at Hollywood Park from Keeneland, where she was an easy maiden winner on Oct. 26. She is trained by Michael Matz for owner-breeders Helen Alexander, Dorothy Matz and Helen Groves.

More Than Love, coming off a one-length maiden victory Oct. 9 at Belmont Park, ships in for trainer John Terranova II. By More Than Ready out of the Zafonic mare I’m in Love, More Than Love is 1-for-2 for owner Newton Anner Stud.

An Irish-bred daughter of Trans Island and the Shareef Dancer mare Athlumney Dancer, Island Paradise makes her grass debut in the Miesque. She is trained by Charles Hills and has a record of 1-for-2 over synthetic surfaces in England.

Starship Flare, who arrives from Florida after finishing sixth of 10 in her first start on turf in a starter allowance Oct. 24, has two wins from four career starts. By Stevie Wonderboy out of the Crafty Prospector mare Go to the Ink, Starship Flare is trained by Kristin Mulhall.

Among the local runners in the Miesque is Your Special Day, who stretches out over a new surface after going 2-for-2 on the Santa Anita main track last month. The daughter of Kafwain and the General Meeting mare Young Ladies Day has earned $29,400 for trainer Jim Cassidy, who also owns her in partnership.

From the inside out, the field for the Miesque Stakes: Island Paradise, Joel Rosario rides, 116 pounds; Your Special Day, Mike Smith, 116; Starship Flare, Victor Espinoza, 116; Regal Betty, Joe Talamo, 118; Katie’s Ten, Alonso Quinonez, 114; Assateague, Julien Leparoux, 116; More Than Love, Ramon Dominguez, 118 and Raesunbridledfaith, Martin Garcia, 116.

The Miesque is the fifth race on Friday’s card, with a post time of 2:34 p.m.

The Grade 1 Matriarch for fillies and mares three years old and up at one mile, features a contentious field of nine.

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, a two-time winner of the Matriarch with Auspiciante (1986) and Tout Charmant (2000), will send out the much improved All Star Heart.

A Canadian bred daughter of Arch and the Ascot Knight mare Gift of the Heart, the 4-year-old filly has won five of eight since coming to California late last year and joining the McAnally barn.

Owned by Gerald L. Gibbs, All Star Heart has won two in a row and earned her most significant victory when capturing the Grade II Las Palmas – at the Matriarch distance – Nov. 6 at Santa Anita.

Gypsy’s Warning will try to become only the second repeat winner of the Matriarch since Flawlessly won three in succession (1991-1993) for Harbor View Farm, trainer Charlie Whittingham and jockey Chris McCarron.

Gypsy’s Warning is trained by Graham Motion for Flaxman Holdings Ltd. and will be aiming for her first win since taking the Matriarch by 1 ¼ lengths in 2010. She is one of a trio Motion is scheduled to run in the Matriarch, including Unbridled Humor and Summer Soiree.

From inside out, the field for the Matriarch: Unbridled Humor, Ramon Dominguez rides, 123 pounds; Summer Soiree, Gabriel Saez, 123; Quiet Oasis, Luis Medina, 123; Madera Castana, Hector Berrios, 123; Gypsy’s Warning, Joel Rosario; 123; All Star Heart, Brice Blanc, 123; Star Billing, Victor Espinoza, Never Retreat, Julien Leparoux, 123 and Up In Time, Martin Garcia, 120.

The Matriarch goes as the ninth race at 4:37 p.m.

Other Festival events on the weekend include the $250,000 Citation Handicap and $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (Saturday) and the $100,000 Generous Stakes and $250,000 Hollywood Derby (Sunday). For more information, visit Hollywood Park's website.

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