Hollywood Park's Turf Festival, presented this year by John Deere, a three-day series of six graded grass stakes worth $1.85 million, gets underway on Friday with a pair of grade III events on the grass, the $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express and $100,000 Miesque.
The Turf Express, at 5 ½ furlongs, will bring together a field of nine including millionaire Full Moon Madness, accomplished 3-year-old King Robyn, Argentine sprint star Volterromo and European-import Needwood Blade, competitive with the top sprinters in England.
The Miesque, for 2-year-old fillies at one mile, has attracted an international cast of 11 that includes French-bred Amorama, accompanied here by legendary French trainer Maurice Zilber, and Very Vegas, a Kentucky-bred youngster who is working on a three-race win streak in California that includes the Bay Meadows Lassie.
The Turf Festival continues Saturday with the $400,000 Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 1/16 miles, and the $100,000 Generous (gr. IIIT), for 2-year-olds at one mile. The series concludes with a pair of Grade I stakes on Sunday – the $600,000 Hollywood Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles, and the $500,000 Matriarch, for fillies and mares at one mile.
High weighted at 120 pounds for the Turf Express, King Robyn has enjoyed a stellar 3-year-old season for Cornejo Racing and trainer Jeff Mullins. The Florida-bred has taken 7 of 10 starts including his last three, the most recent being Santa Anita's Morvich Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Oct. 24. The bay gelding has earned $346,990 this year.
Full Moon Madness, whose races have been spaced while plagued by foot problems in recent years, seems to relish the Hollywood Park turf course with a 5-1-1 record in 7 starts over the surface. The 8-year-old gelding, whose career record of 15-6-10 in 38 starts has generated earnings of $1,015,885, was assigned 119 pounds.
Volterromo, who has joined the stable of prominent local trainer Doug O'Neill, won a group II sprint and was third in a group I in his two most recent starts in Argentina. Needwood Blade has won 8 of 31 starts in Great Britain.
The 2-year-old fillies competing in the Miesque remain in the development stage. Amorama has won 2 of 5 starts for Zilber in France and is set to join Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel's barn after the race. Very Vegas won the Bay Meadows Lassie by a neck on Nov. 2 for trainer Terry Knight following a pair of victories by a combined 13½ lengths.
The Miesque will go as the fifth race on a ten-race card while the Hollywood Turf Express will be the ninth. $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express Stakes (gr. IIIT), 3 & up, 5 1/2 furlongs on turf
PP. Horse, Jockey, Wgt.
1. Forty Milito, Mike Smith, 111
2. Full Moon Madness, Ryan Fogelsonger, 119
3. King Robyn, Tyler Baze, 120
4. Geronimo, Patrick Valenzuela, 116
5. Apache Wings, Felipe Martinez, 114
6. Golden Arrow, Kent Desormeaux, 115
7. Volterromo, Jose Valdivia Jr., 113
8. Lydgate, David Flores, 108
9. Needwood Blade, Julie Krone, 115$100,000 Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT), 2-year-old fillies, 1 mile on turf
1. Letsimpress, Goncalino Almeida, 116
2. Winendynme, Patrick Valenzuela, 116
3. Vencedora Amiga, Tyler Baze, 114
4. Mambo Slew, Mike Smith, 116
5. Ticker Tape, Julie Krone, 116
6. Madam Bahri, David Nuesch, 116
7. Cousineau, Kent Desormeaux, 116
8. Secret Corsage, Martin Pedroza, 116
9. Very Vegas, Ryan Fogelsonger, 116
10. Shadow Of Mine, Jose Valdivia Jr., 116
11. Amorama, David Flores, 116