INGLEWOOD, Calif. (Nov. 25, 2009) — Irish-bred filly Tuscan Evening, a perfect three-for-three here at the Spring/Summer Meet, will aim for her most prestigious victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Matriarch at Hollywood Park.
Tuscan Evening, owned by William de Burgh and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, won the Grade II Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita in her most recent start. She will be traveling the same distance of one mile on the Lakeside Turf Course in the Grade I Matriarch.
The 4-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream won an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles here in May, before capturing the Redondo Beach and the Royal Heroine — both at one mile. Winless in 11 starts in Europe at two and three, she has won six of nine starts this year in the United States and enters The Matriarch with earnings of $509,408.
The Matriarch, which will be contested for the 29th time on Day 2 of Hollywood Park’s 18th Turf Festival, drew a field of seven, which will line up as follows from the rail out:
April Pride, with David Flores up; Puttanesca, Joe Talamo; Diamondrella, Alex Solis; Ventura, Garrett Gomez; Rutherienne, Joel Rosario; Tuscan Evening, Rafael Bejarano, and Taste’s Sis, Michael Baze. All carry 123 pounds with the exception of 3-year-old filly April Pride, who carries 120.
Ventura, the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner and the 2009 runner-up, will make the final start of her career in The Matriarch. She will be saddled by Humberto Ascanio, the longtime assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who passed away Nov. 16. Frankel saddled a record eight Matriarch winners as he dominated his rivals with 17 winners in Turf Festival races.
Ascanio, now the trainer of record, would relish a victory by Ventura, but not for himself.
“I want her to win it for Bobby,” he said. “He made this filly.” Ventura was to be retired, but one day after the Breeders’ Cup Frankel recommended giving the Juddmonte Farms’ home-bred one more start in The Matriarch.
Ventura, winner of the Woodbine Mile against males one start prior to the Breeders’ Cup, enters The Matriarch with nine wins, eight seconds and one third in 20 starts for earnings of $2,400,530.
Eastern-based Rutherienne will be making her second trip to Hollywood Park. A winner of 11 of 23 starts and $1,280,671, the 5-year-old finished third in the 2008 Gamely. Winner of the 2007 Del Mar Oaks, she won the Noble Damsel at Belmont Park in September before finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
IEAH Stables’ 5-year-old Diamondrella, now in the barn of Gary Stevens, will try to rebound from an 11th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. A winner of eight of 18 starts for earnings of $784,576, she has won seven of her last ten starts dating to an allowance race last June at Belmont Park. In her four most recent starts, she has won a pair of graded races at one mile — the Just a Game at Belmont in June and the First Lady at Keeneland in October.
Improving April Pride faces her toughest test after winning the Harold C. Ramser at Santa Anita; New Zealand-bred filly Puttanesca makes her third North American start after prepping in a Santa Anita allowance race, and Taste’s Sis enters following a fourth-place finish in the Queen of the Green Handicap at Turf Paradise.
In the co-feature, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Bridgetown heads a field of eight 2-year-olds in the $100,000 Generous at one mile on turf. The Generous will run as the fifth race and The Matriarch as the eighth on the ten-race program. First post is at 12:30 p.m.
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