Criminologist, a multiple graded stakes winner, will be supplemented to the $500,000 Matriarch on Nov. 30 at Hollywood Park, trainer Shug McGaughey confirmed Wednesday from New York. The fee is $10,000 for the Grade I test for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
“All systems are go,” said McGaughey from Belmont Park, where the 5-year-old mare has worked three times since a third-place finish as the favorite in the Oct. 11 Athenia Handicap.
“She should get firm turf and probably some pace out there,” added McGaughey. “This will be her last race. She has won four Grade IIIs but no Grade Is.”
McGaughey said the mare would be flown west Monday and be ridden by Edgar Prado, who won the 2006 Matriarch on Price Tag.
Criminologist, winner of the Noble Damsel Handicap at Belmont two starts back, has won nine of 21 outings and earned $544,313 for owner-breeders Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable.
The Matriarch is the co-feature with the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on closing day of the three-day, six-race Turf Festival, which begins Friday, Nov. 28.
SMITH TO RIDE VENTANA IN PREVUE
Trainer Bob Baffert named Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith to ride Ventana for the first time in the $100,000-added Hollywood Prevue Stakes, a Grade III test for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs Sunday.
Baffert won the race a record fourth time last year with Massive Drama following victories by In Excessive Bull, Commitisize and Premier Property from 1996-98.
Smith, who won the 2003 Prevue on Lion Heart, will become the fourth jockey to ride the colt in four starts. He finished fourth in the Goodman Stakes at Santa Anita in his California bow Oct. 18.
Ventana broke his maiden at first asking Sept. 5 at Belmont before finishing a distant 10th in the Champagne Stakes on Oct. 4. A $410,000 purchase at the Barretts March Sale, the son of 2002 CashCall Futurity winner Toccet is co-owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
Ventana is expected to be joined in the Prevue by unbeaten Backbackbackgone (Rafael Bejarano), Hollywood Juvenile Championship winner Azul Leon (Garrett Gomez), Arashi Cat (Clinton Potts) and unbeaten Canadian invader Congor Bay (Michael Baze). Congor Bay was scheduled to arrive here today.
SADLER SEEKS THIRD UNDERWOOD VICTORY
Trainer John Sadler entered two sprinters in Saturday’s $100,000-added Vernon O. Underwood Stakes but not the two he originally planned.
Sadler, who had planned to enter Cost of Freedom and Noble Court, went with Noble Court and Six Pack Abs after Cost of Freedom failed to get off the veterinarian’s list following a five-furlong work in 1:00 here Wednesday.
“He’s still on the vet’s list and couldn’t be entered,” said Sadler after the ruling by state veterinarian Tim Connor. “They checked him after the work and weren’t satisfied with him.”
Cost of Freedom, a 5-year-old gelding who won the Ancient Title Stakes in September at Santa Anita, was a vet’s scratch for unsoundness the morning of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. He has worked three times since.
Sadler still has hopes for his other two Underwood entrants, particularly Noble Court, in the Grade III test at six furlongs.
“He had been out with a tendon injury,“ explained Sadler of a year layoff before the 4-year-old colt returned with an impressive come-from-behind allowance victory at Santa Anita on Oct. 4. Noble Court won the 2007 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita.
Six Pack Abs makes his stakes debut after a pair of good allowance efforts at Santa Anita.
Sadler seeks to win the Underwood for a record third time and first time in 18 years. He won with Olympic Prospect in 1989 and Frost Free in 1990.
DIAMOND DIVA NEARS RETURN TO TRAINING
Diamond Diva, winner of the CashCall Mile in her last start here in July, is nearing a return to training, according to trainer Jim Cassidy.
“She hurt a suspensory in the CashCall Mile and will start to train again at the end of the month,” said Cassidy from Santa Anita.
“We’re monitoring it pretty closely,“ said Cassidy of the 4-year-old filly owned by Three Chimneys Racing. “The injury was minute, but with a filly of that quality, you don’t want to take any chances.”
Cassidy also picked up Irish import Pasar Silbano, who finished seventh in the Moccasin Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Sunday in her United States debut for Three Chimneys.
FINISH LINES — Jockey Corey Nakatani, sidelined since Sept. 24 with a broken collarbone suffered in a Santa Anita spill, is nearing a return. “He gets doctor’s clearance tomorrow, will start getting on horses Friday at Santa Anita and hopes to ride here next weekend,” said agent Ron Ebanks…Trainer John Sadler said Eloquently, an English import who arrived here last week, could join Landaluce Stakes winner Emmy Darling in the $100,000-added Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Nov. 28. Sadler said he also planned to nominate Machisimo, a new arrival from Florida, to the $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express on Nov. 29...Sadler also said Evita Argentina, winner of the Moccasin Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Sunday, returned in good shape and remained a possibility for the $250,000 Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 13 but that stablemate Alpha Kitten was the more probable starter in the 1 1/16-mile Grade I test…Eric Kruljac said Miguel’s Mascot, a recent maiden winner, would return in the $100,000-added Generous Stakes for 2-year-olds Nov. 29...Ger Lyons, the Irish trainer who sent Pasar Silbano out to a seventh-place finish in the Moccasin Sunday in their stateside bows, said he might return to California for the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes with Dohasa, a good Polytrack performer.