Canada's Chopinina Faces Females in Matriarch

(from Hollywood Park notes)
Chopinina has run well against some of the top males in North America at one mile on turf over her home Woodbine course in Toronto. Trainer Alec Fehr wanted to find a spot for the 5-year-old Canadian-bred mare at one mile against other females.

When Hollywood Park shortened Sunday's Matriarch (gr. IT) a furlong to one mile on grass, Fehr took notice.

"We planned for this race for quite a while," said Fehr Wednesday after the mare was flown in from Toronto on Tuesday. Chopinina made her last start Sept. 14 against males in the Atto Mile (Can-I) at Woodbine, finishing fifth, five lengths behind winner Touch of the Blues.

"Fortunately, she stayed sharp," said Fehr. "She had a couple of works in 1:12 for six furlongs on the dirt at Woodbine before she left.

"It was snowing when we left," continued Fehr on his first trip to California. "We stopped once in Ohio. It took 10 or 11 hours altogether."

Chopinina, a gray daughter of Lear Fan, has won five of 15 starts and earned $613,696. Impressive on her past performance lines are big efforts in the Atto Mile twice, the fifth this year and a runner-up finish, a length behind the highly regarded Good Journey last year. Horses who finished behind her this year included Sarafan, competing in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) this week.

Fehr, who began training in 1994, currently conditions 30 horses for Knob Hill Stable, nom de course for Steve Stavros, former owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors.

"He named this mare for Frederic Chopin," said Fehr of the famed composer. "He's a big classical music fan. We play it in the barn at Woodbine."

Stavros is scheduled to arrive Thursday.

Chopinina was also accompanied by assistant Marie Balawan and exercise rider Maurice Gear. She jogged on the main track Wednesday. Canadian rider Richard Dos Ramos has the call.