I Can See, a 5-year-old mare who has overcome the handicap of blindness in one eye to earn more than $400,000, worked five furlongs on turf in 1:01.60 Sunday at Hollywood Park for the $500,000 Matriarch on Nov. 30. The Grade I Matriarch, co-featured with the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on closing day of the three-day Turf Festival, is for fillies and mares at one mile on grass.
“She worked very nicely, as good as I could expect,” said trainer Steve Knapp after the drill under exercise rider Fernando Serna. “I will work here once more next Sunday, and if all goes well, she will run in The Matriarch.”
“I was going to run her in the Las Palmas Handicap (Oct. 24) but she got sick on me after the Yellow Ribbon,” said Knapp. “She ran a temperature and missed seven days but she’s very sharp right now.”
I Can See was born blind in her left eye. “She is a fabulous horse who has overachieved,” said Knapp. “She would have been a great horse if she had both eyes. Rafael DeLeon had her as a baby and trained her on the rail so she is not afraid to run there. But when she comes down the stretch on her left lead, she will look over and hesitate just a little.”
Real Connection, a mare blind in one eye, finished second in the 1998 Matriarch for trainer Mel Stute.
In other Matriarch news, Henry Spiller, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said Godolphin Racing’s Cocoa Beach would work on the turf for the first time here Thursday after a bullet four-furlong work in :45.60 Monday on Cushion Track.
“I had her back in 57 and 4,” said Spiller. “It was like a breeze.” Cocoa Beach, a major stakes winner on three continents, finished second to unbeaten Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic in her last start at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.
“She handles the dirt well, she handles the synthetic well, and she broke her maiden at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf in Chile,” said Spiller. “She’s just a great-moving filly.”
The 4-year-old Chilean-bred filly has won stakes in Chile, Dubai and New York en route to a record of eight victories in 11 starts. Ramon Dominguez has the call back.
Brad Pegram, jockey agent for Mike Smith, said the Hall of Famer has taken a call on
Black Mamba, winner of the Mabee and Beverly Hills handicaps.
Other probable starters include defending champion Precious Kitten (Rafael Bejarano), Visit (Garrett Gomez), Roshani (John Velazquez), Magical Fantasy (Alex Solis), Rosinka and Passified.
FERNELEY DRILLS FOR CITATION HANDICAP
Ferneley, a Group III winner in Ireland, worked six furlongs on turf Sunday in 1:13.40 under Victor Espinoza in tandem with Solva for the $400,000 Citation Handicap on Nov. 28. The Grade I test is at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
“I was happy with his last race,” said trainer Ben Cecil of an allowance win here Oct. 29 in 1:33.72 at one mile on turf by the 4-year-old colt. “A mile in 1:33 and four is pretty solid here. And he did it quite well.”
Ferneley, winner of the Group III Amethyst Stakes in Ireland in May, finished fifth in the Eddie Read Handicap and sixth in the Oak Tree Mile in his first two United States starts.
“We ran him off the plane in the Eddie Read and freshened him for the Oak Tree Mile, but his feet were stinging him in that race,” said Cecil. The colt is owned by Dermot O’Rourke, an Irishman who races under Plantation Stud at Newmarket and Silver Springs Stud in Kentucky.
AZUL LEON WORKS FOR HOLLYWOOD PREVUE
Azul Leon, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Best Pal Stakes, worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 Sunday for trainer Doug O’Neill for the $100,000-added Hollywood Prevue Stakes, a Grade III test for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs next Sunday.
Garrett Gomez will ride the son of Lion Heart for the first time. Other probable starters include unbeaten Backbackbackgone (Rafael Bejarano), Arashi Cat (Clinton Potts), Jack o’ Lantern (Isaias Enriquez), Ventana and Canadian invader Congor Bay.
JOHNNY EVES TARGETS UNDERWOOD
Johnny Eves, winner of the Grade I Malibu Stakes last year, will make his next start in the $100,000-added Vernon O. Underwood Stakes Saturday, trainer Jay Robbins said Sunday from Santa Anita. The Grade III test is at six furlongs.
Johnny Eves, a 4-year-old gelding, is winless in seven starts this year since the Malibu victory, but Robbins thinks he is regaining his old form. “I gave him some time off earlier in the year, and he didn’t run that well in his first two starts back at Del Mar, but he ran a good second in the Cal Cup (Sprint Oct. 5),” said Robbins of his last start.
“He just worked five-eighths (1:01.20 Nov. 13) and will work a half here Wednesday,” said Robbins, who has named Garrett Gomez to ride. “The plan is to run in the Underwood and come back in the On Trust (Handicap for Cal-breds at 7 ½ furlongs Dec. 14).”
Other probable starters include the John Sadler-trained duo of Cost of Freedom (Tyler Baze) and Noble Court (Mike Smith) and Bob Black Jack (David Flores). Possibles are headed by Hurry Up Austin, Master Daniel and Talkin To Mom Roo.
Bob Black Jack, North American record-holder for six furlongs at 1:06.53, worked five furlongs in a bullet :58 Saturday for his first start since the Kentucky Derby for trainer Jim Kasparoff.
FINISH LINES — Argentine-bred Carrilero worked five furlongs on turf in 1:02.40 under Jose Valdivia, Jr., for the $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express on Nov. 29. “The last quarter in 24 flat,” said trainer Mike Puype in satisfaction…Trainer Richard Mandella said 2007 CashCall Futurity winner Into Mischief would skip the Underwood and train up to the Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. He also confirmed Grade I stakes winner Dixie Chatter would work Monday at Santa Anita in preparation for the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 30, a race also expected to attract Muny, Madeo, Court Vision, Gio Ponti, Sailor’s Cap, Cowboy Cal and Winchester…Trainer Brian Koriner is considering supplementing Atticus Jack to the $750,000 CashCall Futurity on Dec. 20 after the 2-year-old gelding won a starter allowance in 1:22.39 for seven furlongs Saturday. “The division looks pretty light right now,” said Koriner. “I’ll see how he trains.”.. .Trainer Jeff Bonde said from Northern California that Frumious, winner of three in a row, is also a CashCall supplementary consideration…Clinton Potts, winner of a $50,000 stake at Turf Paradise Saturday on Briecat, hopes to continue his stakes success here next weekend with Arashi Cat in the Hollywood Prevue and Talkin to Mom Roo in the Underwood…Trainer Melody Conlon said that Pretty Katherine, a recent maiden winner on Cushion Track, would probably return in the $100,000-added Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on turf Nov. 28. “She really wants to go long and should like the grass,” said Conlon…Trainer Bob Baffert said Eternally Flawless is also probable for the Miesque...Trainer David Hofmans said Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Desert Code remains under consideration for the Hollywood Turf Express…Brad Pegram, agent for jockey Mike Smith, marveled at the Hall of Famer’s versatility after setting a slow pace on the lead with You Lift Me Up and just holding on in a six-way blanket finish to capture the $81,800 Audrey Skirball-Kenis Stakes Saturday. “I just saw him win two Breeders’ Cup races from last to first, so I guess he can do it both ways,” quipped Pegram.