Monday's $500,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park is shaping up to be a battle between the West Coast's top turf distaffers and two Eastern-based invaders, grade I winner Voodoo Dancer and John C. Oxley's Snow Dance.
A field of seven is expected for the 1 1/8-mile turf heat, with grade I winners Astra and Starine representing the best hopes of the locally based runners. Indeed, their respective connections have a knack for winning the race. Bobby Frankel, who trains Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) winner Starine, has won the Gamely on five occasions. Astra will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, also a five-time winner of the race.
Christophe Clement-trained Voodoo Dancer ships in after winning the Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT) on a "good" turf course at Aqueduct while making her 4-year-old debut. The daughter of Kingmambo has won seven of 11 career starts. Voodoo Dancer is no stranger to the West Coast in general or Hollywood Park in specific. As a 3-year-old, she shipped west to win the listed Flawlessly Stakes and again three months later, when she finished fourth in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT).
Snow Dance has yet to race west of the Mississippi, but the daughter of Forest Wildcat has won stakes races at four different tracks, including the Mrs. Revere Stakes (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs and the Lake Placid Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga. Like Voodoo Dance, Snow Dance has raced once as a 4-year-old, finishing second, a head-length behind Tates Creek in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland.
Fillies and mares probable for the Gamely, with jockeys and weight assignments, are: Astra, Desormeaux, 123 pounds; Starine, Alex Solis, 122; Voodoo Dancer, Gary Stevens, 119; Snow Dance, Craig Perret, 118; Crazy Ensign, Laffit Pincay Jr., 115; Verruma, Victor Espinoza, 114, and Old Money, Eddie Delahoussaye, 113.