Trainer Graham Motion, fresh off a grade I win in the Hollywood Turf Cup, guns for another at Hollywood Park when he sends out three entrants in the $250,000 Matriarch Stakes on the turf Nov. 25, including defending champion Gypsy's Warning.
Motion, who sent heavily favored Sanagas from his Maryland training base to grab the the Turf Cup Nov. 19, also entered grade I winner Summer Soiree and Unbridled Humor in the one-mile Matriarch. The Turf Festival race for fillies and mares attracted a field of nine, including Keeneland's First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) winner Never Retreat.
The local hopes are led by All Star Heart, an impressive two-length winner of Santa Anita's Las Palmas Stakes (gr. IIT) Nov. 6 for trainer Ron McAnally.
The Matriarch, the ninth on a 10-race program, is set to go off at 4:37 p.m. PST. It is one of two graded stakes events on the card along with the Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 2-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf, which is the fifth race.
The 6-year-old South African mare Gypsy's Warning has not won in four starts since she posted a mild surprise in last year's Matriarch, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Wasted Tears. The daughter of Mogok, owned by Flaxman Holdings, ran sixth in the First Lady in her most recent start, beaten by 3 1/4 lengths.
Motion has tabbed top Southern California rider Joel Rosario, who was aboard Gypsy's Warning in last year's Matriarch, for a return engagement.
The only one to win the Matriarch more than once is Flawlessly, who won three in succession (1991-1993) for Harbor View Farm, trainer Charlie Whittingham, and jockey Chris McCarron.
The speedy Summer Soiree, one of four 3-year-olds in the field, also came to Southern California to enjoy her finest moment, winning the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Aug. 20 by a diminishing half-length over Matriarch opponent Star Billing.
Team Valor's War Front filly has had one race since. She faded to fifth in Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) Oct. 15 after setting a clear pace. This will be the first start against older horses for Summer Soiree, to be ridden from post 2 by regular pilot Gabriel Saez.
Live Oak Plantation's 4-year-old homebred Unbridled Humor has won five of seven lifetime starts, her biggest victory coming in the Noble Damsel Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park Sept. 18. The Distorted Humor offspring returned a month later with a second-place effort in the Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT) over a yielding Belmont turf course. Unbridled Humor, who has speed, drew the rail and will reunited with Ramon Dominguez, who rode her in the Noble Damsel.
Invading from Kentucky is Team Block's million-dollar earner Never Retreat. The 6-year-old daughter of Smart Strike is enjoying her finest campaign in 2011 with a 5-2-1 mark in 10 starts and earnings of $872,288.
Besides the First Lady, which she won by 1 1/2 lengths for trainer Chris Block, Never Retreat has also captured the Canadian (Can-IIT) and Dance Smartly (Can-IIT) stakes at Woodbine, the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) at Keeneland, and the Honey Fox (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park. Never Retreat, who likes to stalk and pounce, should find the pace in the Matriarch to her liking with Julien Leparoux aboard.
Never Retreat has won 11 of 31 and boasts the field’s heftiest bankroll with $1,268,769.
All Star Heart is coming off the best race of her career, a sweeping win in the one-mile Las Palmas for owner Gerald Gibbs. The quickly improving 4-year-old daughter of Arch has won four of her past five starts.
The Hall of Famer McAnally is a two-time winner of the Matriarch with Auspiciante (1986) and Tout Charmant (2000).
Star Billing, like Summer Soiree, came up short in the Queen Elizabeth, finishing sixth after her big late-running effort in the Del Mar Oaks. George Krikorian's 3-year-old daughter of Dynaformer certainly loves the Hollywood turf course. She took the one-mile Senorita (gr. IIIT) in May 2010 for trainer John Shirreffs and just missed in both the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT), when second by a half-length, and the American Oaks (gr. IT), when third by a head, earlier this year.
Anthony Ramsden's British-bred Up In Time is on the upswing for trainer Simon Callaghan. The 3-year-old Noverre filly won the San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) at Del Mar this summer and the Harold C. Ramser (gr. IIIT) Oct. 16 at Santa Anita, both at one mile. In between, she ran seventh in the Del Mar Oaks.
$250,000 Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT, Race 9, 4:37 p.m), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Unbridled Humor (FL), R A Dominguez, 123, H G Motion
2. Summer Soiree (KY), G Saez, 120, H G Motion
3. Quiet Oasis (IRE), L Medina, 120, B D Cecil
4. Madera Castana (CHI), H I Berrios, 123, R Cardenas
5. Gypsy's Warning (SAF), J Rosario, 123, H G Motion
6. All Star Heart (ON), B Blanc, 123, R L McAnally
7. Star Billing (KY), V Espinoza, 120, J A Shirreffs
8. Never Retreat (KY), J R Leparoux, 123, C M Block
9. Up In Time (GB), M Garcia, 120, S Callaghan