08/06/2010 4:11PM

After three years, Moudez returns in Joseph Grace

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Sunday’s running of the $50,000 Joseph T. Grace at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa, Calif., looks an awful lot like a repeat of a June 13 allowance race at Golden Gate Fields.

Sir Al, who won that one-mile turf race, returns as does runner-up Restless Youth and third-place finisher Live Sundays.

But there is an “X” factor in Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile turf race. Moudez comes into the Grace off back-to-back wins, including a victory in the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland. The victories, though, came three years ago, in 2007, and he hasn’t run since April of that year.

“His last win came when some of these were just yearlings,” said Moudez’s trainer, Steve Miyadi.

The Irish-bred Moudez won his debut in Britain on Aug. 25, 2006. He was third in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes before being sent to America, where he didn’t run a lick while finishing 11th in the Laurel Futurity. He won both starts as a 3-year-old in 2007, an allowance at Gulfstream and the Forerunner, before going to the sidelines. Moudez, owned by Zayat Stables, tried a comeback in 2008 that was halted after five works, and he resurfaced this spring in Miyadi’s barn.

“I didn’t ask any questions,” Miyadi said. “I was glad they sent him to me.”

The Grace has been Miyadi’s target since he got the horse.

“In Northern California, this is the only race for him,” Miyadi said.

Sir Al comes into the Grace off a seven-week break, the same amount of time between races before his victory in June.
“We planned for this race,” trainer Billy Morey said. “It’s easy to get a horse ready when you have a good horse. He’s been training well and had a good work.

Sir Al had a six-furlong 1:13.60 bullet drill at Santa Rosa on Sunday. Russell Baze was aboard for the work and has the mount Sunday. Baze has ridden Sir Al four times and guided him to all four of his wins, including a maiden victory over this course last year.
“Russell gets the most out of him in a work and in a race,” Morey said.

Morey is hoping for a repeat of the last race, when Sir Al stalked the pace and made his move in the stretch.
“Restless Youth is really fast and Live Sundays has good speed, too,” he said.