Updated on 09/17/2011 11:25PM

BC Distaff: Does Shirreffs have another surprise up his sleeve in Hollywood Story?


ARCADIA, Calif. - He won the biggest race in the country the first half of the year, and now trainer John Shirreffs is hoping to win a race on the most important day of the second half of the year.

Shirreffs, who trains Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, is looking to pull off another upset, this time with Hollywood Story, who will have her prep for the Breeders' Cup Distaff this Sunday in the Grade 2, $250,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

As with Giacomo before the Derby, Hollywood Story is considered a cut below the elite of her division as the final round of preps commences for the Distaff. She has won just three times in 17 starts, but has been right there in a number of other races and was unlucky not to win at least two more races just this year.

"If she hadn't got bothered on the turn of the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar, she probably would have won that race, and in the Santa Maria at Santa Anita earlier this year, she got stuck on the rail and swung out too late or she would have won that race, too," Shirreffs said. "It's just been circumstances."

Hollywood Story has been a reliable performer for Shirreffs and owner George Krikorian. Even as a lightly raced maiden, Hollywood Story was ambitiously placed in major races like the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She earned her first win in a Grade 1 race, the Hollywood Starlet. She was fifth in last year's Kentucky Oaks, on a muddy track, and was 10th in last year's Distaff, but that was her first start in nearly four months. She has not missed a scheduled start this year.

"She's done very well," Shirreffs said. "She came out of Del Mar doing great. She just goes on to the next start. She's very straightforward."

Giacomo developed steadily and surely this spring before his Derby victory. Shirreffs said bringing Hollywood Story up to the Distaff is not a similar situation.

"He was just learning and hadn't developed," Shirreffs said. "She's a Grade 1 filly. She's proven."

Shirreffs has another Grade 1-winning filly in Tarlow, but she has not raced since her victory in the Santa Margarita Handicap in March. "She's about two weeks behind where she needed to be to make the Lady's Secret," Shirreffs said. "To run in the Breeders' Cup, we have to find another race."

Shirreffs does not want to ship and said he would rather not train Tarlow straight into the Distaff. He's struggling with what to do. "She's due for a breeze on Friday," he said. "That will be a real telling work."

The other crucial prep for the Distaff this weekend is the Grade 1, $750,000 Beldame Stakes on Saturday at Belmont. It is expected to draw Ashado, Dream of Summer, Happy Ticket, Island Sand, Personal Legend, Society Selection, and Sweet Symphony. Also, Indian Vale is scheduled to run in the Grade 2, $300,000 Cotillion Handicap at Philadelphia Park on Saturday.

Distaff Contenders
3-year-olds & up, fillies & mares, 1 1/8 miles. Purse: $2 million.

1Society SelectionH. A. Jerkens6-1
Her Ruffian second was strong; expect a move forward in Beldame
2AshadoT. Pletcher2-1
Would hope for a big rebound from her poor last race in the Beldame
3Sweet SymphonyW. Mott5-1
Galloped in Alabama to stay undefeated; improving 3yo is dangerous
4Stellar JayneS. bin Suroor4-1
Won Ruffian off layoff; was a tough-trip third to Ashado in this last year
5Indian ValeT. Pletcher10-1
Was tremendous in two wins at Sar; makes stakes debut in Cotillion
6Dream of SummerJ. Garcia15-1
Been better going long this year than expected; fresh coming into fall
7Island SandJ. L. Jones20-1
Could contend on her best race, but consistency has been a problem
8TarlowJ. Shirreffs12-1
Better than ever early in year, then vanished; that's never a good sign
9Hollywood StoryJ. Shirreffs20-1
All three of this closer's career stakes wins came at Hollywood Park
10In the GoldN. Zito15-1
She is a Gr. 1 winner at distance on the track, but over weak 3yos
The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.