Gamely Open Race With Defection of Megahertz

Edited from Hollywood Park notes
The changing picture of the $350,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) may have been summarized Thursday morning in front of Barn 70, where Hall of Fame trainers Bobby Frankel and Ron McAnally operate adjacent stables.

Megahertz walked into Frankel's barn with assistant Humberto Ascanio and an exercise rider after galloping on the main track while McAnally made a late decision to enter both Mea Domina and Solar Echo in the Gamely for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf on Monday.

The complexion of the Gamely changed dramatically when Frankel elected to keep Megahertz in the barn, citing displeasure with the 6-year-old mare's 124-pound high weight assignment. Megahertz finished third in the 2003 Gamely and second in the race last year, but Frankel's decision will deprive the compact chestnut mare of finding out whether the third time would be the charm.

Instead, rival trainers found themselves thinking more optimistically about victory in a wide-open race.

"Things have changed with Frankel's filly out," said McAnally, who initially planned to enter Mea Domina and Solar Echo in the $64,000-added Tranquility Lake Stakes for fillies and mares at one mile on turf Saturday.

"Solar Echo might be a little short," said McAnally. "Mea Domina has never been that far."

Mea Domina, a 4-year-old filly who has never raced beyond a mile, suffered her first turf loss in five outings when she faded to fourth as the even-money favorite in the Wilshire Handicap on April 23. Jockey Tyler Baze thought she was unusually nervous in the paddock before her first try on this turf course and predicted she would do better next time.

Solar Echo, a 5-year-old mare, comes off a runner-up finish by a nose in the Tuzla Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on grass on May 6, her third straight tough-luck second-place finish.

"She had a lot of trouble in that race," said McAnally. "She should have won the Wishing Well, too (in her previous outing on Jan. 30.)"

Solar Echo was sidelined for 17 months between a runner-up finish in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) in August, 2003, and the Wishing Well. "She kicked a wall at Santa Anita and was a little off behind," explained McAnally.

McAnally said the tough-luck mare was unlucky not to have notched an earlier Grade I victory at 1 1/8 miles on turf in the Del Mar Oaks, when a belated rally left her a neck behind Dessert. "She was pinned in and didn't get out in time," recalled McAnally.

Mea Domina and Solar Echo, homebreds owned by Janis Whitham, worked Thursday. Mea Domina drilled a half mile on the main track in 48 4/5 seconds while Solar Echo was clocked in 1:04 3/5 breezing on the grass.

The defection of Megahertz caused at least one other surprise, the decision to supplement Andujar to the race for $7,000.

"When we heard Megahertz might not run, we thought we would leave our options open," explained trainer Doug O'Neill, who acquired the 4-year-old filly earlier this month after she was purchased privately by J. Paul Reddam following a 10-length allowance victory in her first try on the main track here.

"When we bought Andujar, the Milady was the main goal," said O'Neill of the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/6 miles on the main track on June 4. "With the defection of Megahertz, this opened up a new door. We thought it was worth $7,000 to see. The beauty of this horse is that she is versatile enough to run on dirt or grass." The jockey assignment was pending.

A field of nine is probable: Miss Terrible, Mike Smith, 118 pounds; Amorama, Rene Douglas, 116; Island Fashion, Corey Nakatani, 116; Solar Echo, David Flores, 116; Halo Ola, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 115; Mea Domina, Tyler Baze, 115; Uraib, Garrett Gomez, 113; Nadeszhda, Julio Garcia, and Andujar, no rider. (Weights for supplementals Nadeszhda and Andujar were to be issued Thursday afternoon).

Nadeszhda, like Andujar, was supplemented for $7,000 by trainer Neil Drysdale. Amorama, third-place finisher in the Wilshire, worked five furlongs on turf in 1:02 3/5 for trainer Julio Canani.

Ascanio said he was unsure what plans Frankel had for Megahertz but did not did discount the possibility she could be nominated to the $350,000-added Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles on turf on June 11. Frankel already has Vangelis and Continuously pointed for the Whittingham. Megahertz finished a close second against males in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) in December.

$350,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT, Race 8, 4:50 p.m.), fillies & mares 3 & up, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Nadeszhda (GB), 113, Julio A. Garcia
2. Amorama (FR), 116, Rene R. Douglas
3. Mea Domina (KY), 115, Tyler Baze
4. Flip Flop (FR), 114, Alex O. Solis
5. Miss Terrible (ARG), 118, Mike E. Smith
6. Island Fashion (KY), 116, Corey S. Nakatani
7. Halo Ola (ARG), 115, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
8. Solar Echo (KY), 116, David R. Flores
9. Uraib (IRE), 113, Garrett K. Gomez