Golden Apples Faces Loaded Matriarch Cast

(From track report)
Golden Apples has an opportunity to snare a national title from Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) winner Starine with a victory Sunday in the $500,000 Matriarch (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park.

She'll have to beat a strong international field to do it.

The Matriarch shares top billing with the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. I) as the 12th annual Turf Festival concludes with two Grade I events. The Matriarch runs as the fourth of 10 races, while the Derby is the eighth. Both are over 1 1/8 miles on the Lakeside Turf Course.

Golden Apples, who finished a troubled fourth in the Breeders' Cup last month at Arlington Park, beat Starine earlier this year in the Santa Ana Handicap and would hold a 3-1 edge over her rival in Grade I victories if triumphant Sunday.

Golden Apples drew the rail with Patrick Valenzuela in the irons.

Bobby Frankel, owner and trainer of Starine until selling her for $1 million following the Breeders' Cup as a broodmare prospect, will start Breeders' Cup runner-up Banks Hill and also entered multiple graded stakes winner Tates Creek as insurance in the event of rain. A win by either of the Juddmonte Farms-owned fillies would go a long way toward clinching the female turf Eclipse for Starine.

Ben Cecil, who trains Golden Apples for Gary Tanaka, believes a victory by the 4-year-old filly should end the Eclipse Award debate. In fact, with three wins and two seconds in six starts for earnings of more than $1 million this year, Cecil believes Golden Apples is worthy of the award, win or lose Sunday.

"Who else would you give it to?" he asked rhetorically, noting that 2001 Breeders' Cup and Eclipse Award winner Banks Hill seeks her first U.S. victory of the year in The Matriarch and Starine won only that race -- albeit a big one -- this year.

Banks Hill, who finished 1 1/2 lengths back of Starine and a half-length in front of Golden Apples while trying to repeat in the Breeders' Cup, is the most accomplished filly career-wise with five victories and earnings of $1.9 million. Frankel has saddled four of the last six Matriarch winners, including Starine in 2001. In addition, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, the nation's leading rider with more than $22 million in purses, will ride her.

Bailey, a five-time Eclipse Award winner, is within $400,000 of the $22,597,720 national earnings record he set in 2001. Frankel is $1.2 million back of the $17,842,358 trainers' record, set by D. Wayne Lukas in 1988.

All carry 123 pounds with the exception of 3-year-old filly Dress To Thrill, who receives a three-pound break.

$500,000 Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT), fillies and mares, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Rider
1. Golden Apples, Patrick Valenzuela
2. a-Tates Creek, Marco Ramirez
3. a- Banks Hill, Jerry Bailey
4. Affluent, Laffit Pincay Jr.
5. Magic Mission, Victor Espinoza
6. Choc Ice, Kent Desormeaux
7. Dress To Thrill, Patrick Smullen
a- Juddmonte Farms entry

Five Derby Winners Contest Hollywood Plum

The 62nd running of the Hollywood Derby Sunday features five derby winners, and trainer Bobby Frankel trains a pair of them -- Del Mar Derby winner Inesperado and Bay Meadows Derby winner Royal Gem.

They will have company in American Derby winner Mananan McLir from the Wally Dollase stable; Oak Tree Derby winner Johar from the Richard Mandella stable and Calder Derby winner Union Place, an invader from Randy Schulhofer's New York-based outfit.

$500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT), 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 mile
PP. Horse, jockey
1. Mananan McLir, Patrick Valenzuela
2. Royal Gem, Jerry Bailey
3. Music's Storm, Kent Desormeaux
4. Century City, Mike Smith
5. Johar, Alex Solis
6. Inesperado, Corey Nakatani
7. Union Place, Edgar Prado
8. Surprized, David Flores
9. Rock Opera, Laffit Pincay Jr.

All carry 122 pounds.