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Monday, December 01, 2008


DOMINGUEZ SWEEPS DERBY AND MATRIARCH WITH LATE CHARGES


INGLEWOOD, Calif. (Nov. 30, 2008) — Second-choice Court Vision, last in the field of nine at the quarter pole, rallied in the middle of the course to win the Hollywood Derby as jockey Ramon Dominguez completed a sweep of $500,000, Grade I events on Sunday’s final day of the Turf Festival at Hollywood Park.

Eastern-based Dominguez, who won with his first two Hollywood Park mounts in the 2004 Turf Festival, also guided favorite Cocoa Beach to a come-from-behind victory two races earlier in The Matriarch.


Court Vision, a son of Gulch, looked beaten heading into the far turn of the 1 ¼-mile Derby, but hit stride on the turn and caught pacesetter Muny, Dixie Chatter and Midships inside the sixteenth pole, leaving little doubt from there.

Court Vision edged away in the final yards while covering the distance in 2:01.43 on the Lakeside Turf Course to finish three-quarters of a length in front of Cowboy Cal. Midships was another three-quarters of a length back in third, followed by Dixie Chatter, Muny, Albahri, favorite Gio Ponti, Madeo and Sailor’s Cap.

“I was concentrating on getting my horse to relax,” Dominguez said. “I really didn't want to be that far back. Ideally I would have been laying a little closer, but at the same time he was carrying himself well. Looking back, if I knew they were going that slow I would have been very worried. He finished very, very strong the last part. When they all bunched up, I knew I had a lot of horse. Once I got him going at the quarter-pole I thought I had just as good a chance as anybody."

Court Vision, trained by Bill Mott and owned by IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm, earned $300,000 to boost his bankroll to $1,006,400. He has won five of 12 starts.

He paid $9.60, $4.60 and $3, while Cowboy Cal returned $6.60 and $5.20. The show payoff on Midships was $7.60.

“I must say going down the backside I was a little bit nervous just because they didn’t seem to be going that fast and he had dropped himself out,” said Kenny McCarthy, assistant to trainer Bill Mott. “He looked very comfortable over the surface and he looked like at any time Ramon could have asked him to move up. I think once he fell back there he just decided to come with one big run with him.”

Cocoa Beach, who had not run on turf since winning her career debut in Chile in January of 2007, rallied in the stretch to win The Matriarch by three-quarters of a length over defending champion and pacesetter Precious Kitten.

The victory was the ninth in 12 starts for the 4-year-old Chilean-bred, who came out second best while facing unbeaten Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic last month at Santa Anita Park.

"My main focus at first was to not lose too much ground,” Dominguez said. “But then I knew I had so much horse under me that I wasn't even worried about saving ground and just wanted to be able to get out when I wanted to. She seems to be getting better every time I've ridden her. She's run well on every surface. They weren't going that fast up front, but my filly has quite a turn of foot.”

Cocoa Beach, owned by Godolphin Racing and trained by Saeed bin Suroor, won four races in Chile in 2007 and two of four early this year in Dubai before coming to the U.S. She won a minor stake a Saratoga in August and the Grade I Beldame on a sloppy track at Belmont Park prior to her second in the Breeders’ Cup.

“I know there was a question mark about her distance early,” bin Suroor said. “I think nine furlongs is the best distance for her. This filly always has a good turn of foot and plenty of speed. When I saw her coming from the corner, the last furlong and one-half, I thought she was going to win. The jockey had a brilliant ride and I’m happy with the way he rode her. He kept her nice and relaxed behind and took her towards the middle. When he asked her, she flew.”

Precious Kitten, who was making her final career start, was exiting a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, aiming for his fifth consecutive Matriarch victory and ninth overall, saddled Precious kitten and Visit in the Grade I event. The former failed to hold, while the latter pursued Cocoa Beach from the three-eighths pole home, but fell a little short.

“It was not her best race to have her on the lead,” Frankel said of second-choice Precious Kitten.

Cocoa Beach, who banked $300,000 to raise her earnings to $1,651,141, was the 9-5 betting choice and paid $5.80, $3.20 and $2.20. Precious Kitten returned $3.20 and $2.40, while the show payoff on Visit was $2.60.


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