Oak Tree Racing Association's inaugural meet at Hollywood Park kicks off Sept. 30 with an evening program featuring the $100,000 Senator Ken Maddy Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf.
Previous Oak Tree stands had been held at Santa Anita Park since the charitable organization was formed in 1969, but horsemen's concerns about the condition of Santa Anita Pro-Ride main track led to the meet's transfer across town. Oak Tree is expected to run at Hollywood Park in 2011 as well, pending its dates approval by the California Horse Racing Board. Santa Anita has applied for the same autumn dates next year.
The Sen. Ken Maddy, formerly contested on the hillside turf course at about 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita, has been shortened to six furlongs due to the track configuration at Hollywood. First post on opening night is at 7:05 p.m. PDT, with the Maddy, race 8 on the card, set for 10:35 p.m. PDT. Unzip Me, one of two California-bred entrants from trainer Marty Jones, heads a field of nine older fillies and mares.
The Maddy is the first of 13 graded stakes during a 22-day season that continues through Oct. 31. Seven of the stakes are grade I races and six of them will be run the first weekend of the season. The most anticipated of the four grade I events slated Oct. 2 is the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes Presented by TVG. The 1 1/16 mile race over Cushion Track will be the final Southern California start for the undefeated superstar Zenyatta.
The other grade I races on Oct. 2 are the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track, the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes for older horses at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track, and the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf.
Two more grade I races follow Oct. 3. Older horses will get together in the $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship, Presented by TVG, at 1 1/4 miles on turf, and 2-year-old fillies meet in the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track.
The final grade I of the meet is the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes, for older horses at six furlongs on Cushion Track, on Oct. 9.
Racing will be conducted on a Thursday-Sunday basis for four of the five weeks during the meet. The lone exception is a six-day week beginning Oct. 6 and continuing through Columbus Day (Monday, Oct. 11).
Besides opening night, there will be racing after dark on five other occasions (Oct. 8, Oct. 21, Oct. 22, Oct. 28, and Oct. 29).
In the feature, Unzip Me and stablemate Dotsy Jean, who have combined for seven wins over the Hollywood Park turf course, top the field.
A two-time grass winner at Hollywood Park, Unzip Me, who is owned by Per Antonsen and breeders John Harris and Don Valpredo, is making her first start since capturing the Royal North (Can-IIIT) Aug. 2 at Woodbine. The 4-year-old City Zip filly has captured six of her past seven starts. Overall, she owns an 8-2-2 mark in 14 races for earnings of $424,513.
Rafael Bejarano, the two-time defending Oak Tree riding champion, will be aboard Unzip Me, who will carry top weight of 124 pounds.
Owned by AJM Racing and JBK Stable, Dotsy Jean, a 5-year-old daughter of Lit de Justice, has won five times locally at the Maddy distance, including the Culver City Stakes July 2. Claimed for $16,000 by her current connections on Jan. 19, 2009, Dotsy Jean has since won seven of 15. Overall, she is 10-for-32 with earnings of $330,418.
Alpha Kitten, second as the even-money favorite in the Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III) Aug. 22 at Del Mar, will be making her initial start on turf.
Owned by breeders Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Sadler, the 4-year-old Tale of the Cat filly has won two of eight with a bankroll of $227,010. Her most significant win came in the 2009 Santa Ynez (gr. II) at Santa Anita. Sadler is seeking his third win in the Maddy.
$100,000 Senator Ken Maddy Handicap (gr. IIIT), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Alpha Kitten (KY), J Rosario, 117, J W Sadler
2. Minute Limit (IRE), V Espinoza, 118, J W Sadler
3. Unzip Me (CA), R Bejarano, 124, M F Jones
4. Reba Is Tops (WA), J Talamo, 119, M Glatt
5. Bonifacio (KY), A Quinonez, 118, C Dollase
6. Dotsy Jean (CA), M Garcia, 121, M F Jones
7. Terrify (FL), B Blanc, 115, S Knapp
8. Czechers (KY), P A Valenzuela, 117, M Glatt
9. Waveline (CA), C S Nakatani, 117, B D Cecil