The connections will make a winner’s circle appearance as Horse of the Year candidate Zenyatta will be paraded between races on Sunday’s program. They hope to return later in the afternoon when Del Mar Derby winner and Oak Tree Derby runner-up Madeo faces eight rivals in the 67th running of the Hollywood Derby.
Contention runs deep in the Derby, which shares top billing with the $500,000 Matriarch as Hollywood Park’s 17th Turf Festival comes to a close with the two Grade I events. The Derby field includes the first three finishers from the Oak Tree Derby in Muny, Madeo and Dixie Chatter; Virginia Derby one-two-three finishers Gio Pont, Court Vision and Sailor’s Cap, and Tropical Park Derby winner Cowboy Cal. In addition, European winners Midships and Albahri will make their North American debuts. The talented field will line up as follows from the rail out:
Dixie Chatter, with Tyler Baze up; Court Vision, Ramon Dominguez; Cowboy Cal, John Velazquez; Albahri, Julien Leparoux; Madeo, Mike Smith; Midships, Rafael Bejarano; Gio Ponti, Garrett Gomez; Sailor’s Cap, Alan Garcia, and Muny, David Flores. All carry 122 pounds.
Gio Ponti, owned by Castleton Lyons and trained by Christophe Clement, has been the most productive of the group on turf, winning four of seven starts and $760,800. He’s traded decisions with Court Vision, beating him by a nose in the Virginia Derby, but finishing three-quarters of a length behind him in the Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park. In between, he finished second to Madeo in the Del Mar Derby.
Court Vision, owned by IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm, was a leading Triple Crown contender following a victory in the Remsen Stakes last fall. He finished third in the Fountain of Youth and in the Wood Memorial before a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He has found a home on turf since then and is handled by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who shipped Paradise Creek west to win the 1992 running.
Cowboy Cal, trained by Todd Pletcher for Magnolia Racing Stable, has won four of five starts with a second on turf. He was also second in the Bluegrass at Keeneland and ninth in the Kentucky Derby. In his lone start since the Derby, he finished second on turf in the Bryan Station at Keeneland, but was placed first through disqualification.
Muny has won three of four starts for owners Bob Bone, Don Johnson, Richard Trontz, Jim Robinson and Brewer Racing Stable. Trained by Mike Puype, he is perfect in two turf races. He will try to follow in defending champion Daytona’s footsteps by sweeping the Oak Tree Derby and Hollywood Derby. He led from start to finish in the 1 1/8-mile Oak Tree Derby and will try to carry his speed another furlong on Sunday.
Sailor’s Cap, owned by Team Valor International and trained by James Toner, cruised to a 6 ¾-length win on a soft course in the Colonial Turf Cup. Running on yielding courses, he won an allowance race at Keeneland and was second in the American Turf at Churchill Downs.
Dixie Chatter has won three of eight starts for Herman Sarkowsky and Pam and Martin Wygod. From the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, the son of Dixie Union was shifted to turf two starts back, winning the Oceanside at Del Mar and finishing third — beaten three-quarters of a length — in the Oak Tree Derby.
French-bred Albahri has won three of five starts, including his last two at 1 5/16 miles. Purchased recently by Edmund Gann, he will be saddled by Patrick Biancone.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who will aim for his fifth straight Matriarch victory with defending champion Precious Kitten and Visit, will send out Midships in an attempt to win a record-tying fourth Hollywood Derby. The son of Mizzen Mast ran six races at 1 ¼ miles in Great Britain with one win, three seconds and a third.
Frankel, who has saddled a record eight Matriarch winners, has never had a repeat winner. Precious Kitten, who will be making her final career start, could be his first. She has eight wins, nine seconds and a third in 24 starts for earnings of $1.8 million. She ran in open company in her last start, finishing fourth behind Goldikova, Kip
Deville and Whatsthescript in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Visit also enters following an impressive Breeders’ Cup effort with a fourth in the 1 ¼-mile Filly & Mare Turf in her North America debut. A winner twice in eight starts, she won a Group race at Goodwood in August and was third in a Group 1 at one mile at Newmarket in her final European start.
The field of nine for The Matriarch — for fillies and mares at one mile on turf —lines up as follows:
Black, Mamba, with Smith up, carries 123 pounds; Magical Fantasy, Alex Solis, 120; Precious Kitten, Bejarano, 123; Criminologist, Edgar Prado, 123; Rosinka, Jeremy Rose, 123; I Can See, Tyler Baze, 123; Visit, Gomez, 120; Roshani, Velazquez, 123, and Cocoa Beach, Dominguez, 123.
The Matriach will run as the seventh race and the Hollywood Derby as the ninth on Sunday’s ten-race program at Hollywood Park. First post time is 12:30 p.m.