Tuscan Evening, winner of four of five starts this year since being transferred to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer from the British Isles by owner William de Burgh, goes for her first graded win in the $250,000 Royal Heroine Mile (gr. IIT) July 11 at Hollywood Park.
The 4-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream faces seven rivals in the filly/mare grass test, which was known as the CashCall Mile from 2006-08. The Royal Heroine is the 10th race on the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) program and is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start on the West Coast. Visit, Gotta Have Her, and Lemon Chiffon are among the leading contenders in an evenly-matched field.
The front-running filly Tuscan Evening retains the services of Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard her for the first time in a gate-to-wire victory in the one-mile Redondo Beach Stakes June 6. Tuscan Evening is two-for-two on the Hollywood grass including an allowance victory a month before the Redondo Beach.
Her only U.S. loss came over Santa Anita's downhill turf course at about 6 1/2 furlongs when she was caught late by Gotta Have Her in the Las Cienegas Handicap (gr. IIIT) and finished third in a game effort. She was beaten by three-quarters of a length as the 7-10 choice.
Prior to her switch to American racing, the Irish-bred bay was winless in 11 starts in Great Britain and Ireland while facing top company. She lost by a head to Halfway to Heaven the Boylesport.com Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh in May 2008 at odds of 66-1, only to be disqualified from second to fourth for causing interference. She was twice group-placed before that.
Tuscan Evening worked six furlongs on turf in a bullet 1:13 July 5.
Juddmonte Farms homebred Visit is closing in on her first win in the U.S. after six losses for trainer Bobby Frankel. In her last start May 30, she missed by a neck to Magical Fantasy in Hollywood's 1 1/8-mile Gamely (gr. IT) after fighting with determination between rivals to the wire.
Another 4-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream, Visit has had a number of close calls since transferring to the U.S. from Britain for last fall's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT), in which she was placed third after leading in the homestretch. The dark bay filly was also group I-placed in England, but has just two lifetime wins in 13 starts.
Brice Blanc rode Visit for the first time in the Gamely and retains the mount.
Gotta Have Her, a 5-year-old Royal Academy mare trained by Jenine Sahadi, followed her win in the Las Cienegas with a rallying second to Tuscan Evening in the Redondo Beach, coming up a half-length short. Owned by Green Lantern Stables, she has been first or second in her past five starts and will be ridden again by Tyler Baze.
Garrett Gomez, who had previously been the regular rider on both Tuscan Evening and Visit, shows up for the first time on Ron Beegle's Lemon Chiffon for trainer Sean McCarthy. Lemon Chiffon was beaten by less than two lengths while fifth in the Gamely last time out. The 6-year-old Lemon Drop Kid mare ran a close third in the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) over good going at Churchill Downs prior to that effort.
Patricia's Gem has won three in row in impressive style and will make her stakes debut in the Royal Heroine for trainer Richard Mandella and owner B. Wayne Hughes. The 4-year-old daughter of Mineshaft broke her maiden at Santa Anita in her third start in April and followed that with back-to-back front-running allowance tallies on the Hollywood turf.
Trainer James Cassidy hopes Meydan Princess can replace Diamond Diva, who won this race last year but was forced to miss it this time because of the recurrence of a suspensory injury that will sideline her for probably six months.
“Meydan Princess is doing real well, and I had planned to run her in this race anyway,” said Cassidy. “She’s a different type of horse than Diamond Diva, more up and coming, and I’m real happy with her. She can’t train any better than she has trained. We’ll find out where she fits Saturday.”
The Irish-bred filly has had three starts in the U.S. and ran second to Patricia's Gem in her last try, losing by 2 3/4 lengths.
The stakes-winning Brazilian bred Zardana, coming off an allowance win for trainer John Shirreffs, and the longshot Taste's Sis complete the field.
$250,000 Royal Heroine Mile Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 10, 5:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Zardana (BRZ), M E Smith, 117, J A Shirreffs
2. Patricia's Gem (KY), V Espinoza, 117, R E Mandella
3. Tuscan Evening (IRE), R Bejarano, 117, J Hollendorfer
4. Taste's Sis (KY), M A Pedroza, 117, M Polanco
5. Meydan Princess (IRE), D R Flores, 117, J M Cassidy
6. Gotta Have Her (KY), T Baze, 119, J Sahadi
7. Lemon Chiffon (KY), G K Gomez, 117, S McCarthy
8. Visit (GB), B Blanc, 119, R J Frankel