But the 5-year-old Tale of the Cat mare is not likely to have an easy task of it when facing 10 rivals headed by Gotta Have Her in the event run as the Autumn Day Handicap until 1999 when renamed to honor the late state senator who was a long-time advocate for horse racing in California.
“She knows just what she’s doing,” jockey Tyler Baze said in the Palomar Handicap winner’s circle. “Jenine says she gives 110 percent. I think it might be 120 percent. Or maybe 150 percent. You’ve got to love a horse like her.”
“I just adore her,” Sahadi said. “I think she’s fabulous. It’s been quite a project to get her to relax and settle out there.” Remarked Baze, “Jenine has done a wonderful job with her. She’s just a joy to ride.”
Baze again has the riding assignment atop the 5-year-old Royal Academy mare who has compiled an overall record of 7-6-3 in 22 starts for earnings of $630,608. Gotta Have Her will carry high weight of 122 pounds, two more than the defending champion.
The complete field for the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Pasar Silbano, David Flores, 112; Gotta Have Her, Tyler Baze, 122; Royal Taat, Joel Rosario, 117; Reba Is Tops, Joseph Talamo, 118; Tuscan Evening, Victor Espinoza, 121; Queen Ofthe Catsle, Mike Smith, 120; Annihilation, Jose Valdivia Jr., 112; Mohegan Sky, Richard Migliore, 115; Gadget Queen, Michael Baze, 115; Porto Marmay, Corey Nakatani, 117, and Flashover, Alonso Quinonez, 115.
Mike Smith, who was aboard when Queen Ofthe Catsle won last year’s Maddy by one length at odds of 9-2, has the return riding engagement for her cautiously optimistic trainer, Howard Zucker. Queen Of the Catsle enters the race with earnings of $410,219.
“She’s very consistent,” Zucker said of his mare who has seven wins and as many seconds in 17 career starts, “but the Maddy this year is of Grade I caliber.” He added, “The only races she’s been worse than second were when she was too close to the pace, but this Maddy is a very tough field.”
If successful as a repeater, Queen Ofthe Catsle will join Belleski (2003-04) and Bel’s Starlet (1991-92) as two-time winners of the event.
Second high weight at 121 pounds is Irish-bred Tuscan Evening, a 4-year-old filly trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for William Deburgh. Since being imported from Ireland, Tuscan Evening has won 5 of 7 starts in the United States this year including Hollywood Park’s Grade II Royal Heroine Mile in which Gotta Have Her placed third, 1 ¾ lengths back. Positions subsequently were reversed, however, when Tuscan Evening finished eighth in Del Mar’s Grade I John C. Mabee at 1 1/8 miles on turf while Gotta Have Her ran second to streaking Magical Fantasy.
Tuscan Evening has won 2 of 3 starts over Santa Anita’s unique downhill grass layout, but finished third behind victorious Gotta Have Her in the Grade III Las Cienegas Handicap last April. The bay filly, who will be ridden for the first time by Victor Espinoza, has earned $377,408 from a career mark of 5-3-4 in 18 starts. Curiously, she was a maiden when arriving in this country following 11 races in Ireland and England. Nonetheless, she lost last year’s Group I Irish Guineas by a head to Halfway To Heaven before being disqualified for stretch interference and dropped from second to fourth.
Reba Is Tops, weighted at 118 with Joe Talamo to ride, was favored over Queen Of the Catsle when losing by a nose to the latter in Del Mar’s Daisycutter Handicap on Sept. 3. She also lost by a nose to Gotta Have Her when second in the Las Cienegas. Trained by Mark Glatt for the partnership of Jamig, Marshall & Schweiger, the hard-hitting Washington-bred has posted a 9-5-3 record in 18 starts for earnings of $254,077.
The Maddy will be the eighth race on a nine-race program with first post scheduled for 12:30 p.m.