No one could blame Chad Brown if he avoided Betfair Hollywood Park after Dayatthespa’s disastrous trip in last year’s Grade I Matriarch.
But that premise could not be further from the truth. The 34-year-old trainer chalked up the incident as a “fluky thing” and is bringing the City Zip filly back for another crack at the $250,000 Matriarch, which will be run at one mile on turf Sunday, Dec. 1.
“She was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time,” said Brown about last year’s race. “She saw something on the track and it appeared like she tried to jump the rail. They could have run that race 10 times and she would have been in a different place and never saw whatever she saw.
I’m very confident and we’re going back to try it again. I know it’s a tough race and she’s going to have to bring her “A” game, but we feel she fits with these top fillies. She deserves to run in the race.’’
Brown indicated that Dayatthespa is quickly rounding back to her best form.
“It’s taken a little longer than I had anticipated, but her last race (second in the Grade I First Lady Stakes Oct. 5 at Keeneland) was her best of the year,’’ said the former assistant to the late Bobby Frankel. “I think she’s really coming back to her peak.”
Dayatthespa won’t be traveling to California alone this year. Brown also intends to start Pianist in the Matriarch.
“(Pianist) may have run the best race of her life last time (a victory in the Grade II Athenia Oct. 12 at Belmont Park),” said Brown. “She’s another one that deserves a shot in the race.
“I’m not big on running my horses against one another, but when they both deserve to run in a race as important as this one, I’m fine with it.”
Both 4-year-old fillies are scheduled to arrive at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 26. Javier Castellano will be aboard Dayatthespa while Hall of Famer Mike Smith has the call on Pianist.
For a brand new apprentice rider trying to break into the big time, it’s helpful to have some major league names behind him.
Drayden Van Dyke, 19 had his first ride Sunday at Betfair Hollywood Park, finishing sixth aboard Two Term Leader for Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor.
“While he was in high school in Hot Springs, he came out to Churchill Downs every summer trying to get work,” said Proctor. “After high school, I sent him to Florida to learn. He’s out here now exercising horses for me.”
“The thing about this kid is that people like him,” pointed out Proctor. “He’s got talent, but he’s humble.”
The usual butterflies accompanied the bug boy to the gate for the first time.
“I was a little nervous, but the experience was awesome,’’ said Van Dyke. “Gary (Stevens) was in the jock’s room helping me with my goggles and silks.”
Van Dyke will make his second appearance in Thursday’s sixth race aboard the Proctor-trained Money Clip. Stevens originally had been named on the 3-year-old maiden son of Aleet Alex.
Benjamin C. Warren’s Warren’s Veneda, game winner of the $100,000 Cat’s Cradle Handicap Nov. 17 at Betfair Hollywood Park, came out of the race in great shape and could be pointed to the Grade II, $150,000 Bayakoa Stakes Saturday, Dec. 7.
“I was going to rest her until Santa Anita,” said trainer Craig Lewis, “but she came back so good, I’m going to give real thought to running her in the Bayakoa.”
A 3-year-old daughter of Affirmative and More Cal Bread, Warren’s Veneda has won five of 10 starts and earned $282,064.
Curvy Cat and Sister Kate, second and third, respectively, for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, both came out of the race well, according to assistant trainer Dan Ward.
Apprentice jockey Gonzalo Nicolas will be the guest of co-hosts Michael Burns and George Ortuzar for the next Escogiendo Ganadores (Picking Winners) session Saturday, Nov. 23.
The Spanish-language handicapping seminar will be offered every Saturday throughout the final Autumn meet, which continues through Sunday, Dec. 22.
A 23-year-old native of Guatemala who earned the first victory of his career in April at Los Alamitos, Nicolas will discuss his career with Burns and Ortuzar as well as the Betfair Hollywood Park card, including the $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track.
Escogiendo Ganadores begins at 11 a.m. at the Paddock Tote Board.
The next Hollywood Insider is also Saturday at the same location and gets underway at 11:30 a.m.
One of the analysts from Television Games Network (TVG) will host Hollywood Insider, which will feature special guests, plus handicapping tips, insights and other last minute information regarding the afternoon’s races.
CLOSING STRIDES —Jockey Mario Gutierrez will be at Delta Downs Saturday to ride Rum Point for trainer Doug O’Neill in the Grade III $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot. Gutierrez will pilot two other runners on the card for O’Neill—Concave in the Grade III, $500,000 Delta Princess Stakes and He’s Had Enough in the $75,000 Sam’s Town Stakes……..Saturday’s commemorative coin giveaway honors the Californian, which has been won by such racing greats as Swaps, Spectacular Bid and Triple Crown winner Affirmed. The souvenirs will be given out every Saturday during the meet, along with closing day, Sunday, Dec. 22……..The single winning Pick Six ticket worth $484,729 Nov. 17 at Betfair Hollywood Park was purchased at Gulfstream Park. The cost of the ticket was $75,600….Entering Thursday’s card, there were 546 people alive in the $2,500 winner-take-all Show Me The Money contest.
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