11/09/2006 12:00AM

Cambiocorsa likely to try Matriarch


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Cambiocorsa, a multiple-stakes-winning turf sprinter, will try to stretch her speed over a mile on turf in the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 26, trainer Doug O'Neill said Thursday.

O'Neill said it was "70-30" that Cambiocorsa would start in the Grade 1 Matriarch, which is expected to draw a top-class field.

Cambiocorsa is best known for her success on the Santa Anita hillside turf course where she has won 8 of 9 starts, including two Grade 3 races - the Las Cienegas and Sen. Ken Maddy handicaps. She suffered her first defeat on that course in her last start, finishing third to River's Prayer in the California Cup Distaff on Oct. 30.

"If she can win a Grade 1 or be placed, it would be huge," O'Neill said. "She's done everything she can down the hill.

"We'll give her a workout about a week out from the race," he said. "If she works great, we'll run, and if not, we'll hold off."

O'Neill said a back-up plan is the Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course on Jan. 1.

Owned by Ty and Lee Leatherman and Ran Jan Racing, Cambiocorsa has won 8 of her last 10 starts. She finished fifth in the Grade 3 CashCall Mile on turf here in July, but did win the restricted Wishing Well Stakes over a mile on turf here last spring.

O'Neill said he is hoping that the proximity of the Breeders' Cup to the Matriarch Stakes will keep away some leading turf female milers. Gorella, the winner of the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland last month and the seventh-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Mile, is being rested for a 2007 campaign, according to trainer Patrick Biancone.

The Matriarch is expected to include locally based fillies Beautyandthebeast and Clinet, who were the first two finishers of the Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 29, and stakes winners Mea Domina, Memorette, and Three Degrees.

Other starters are expected from throughout the nation, including Ready to Please, who was second in the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont in October. She won the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park earlier this year.

New chute's turn adjusted

The six-furlong turf chute, installed in late summer, was used for racing for the first time Wednesday, but not before the inside rail of the course underwent a slight adjustment earlier in the day.

After a group of jockeys, track officials, and the stewards walked the course before Wednesday's first race, the angle of the inside rail was altered toward the infield to reduce the sharpness of the turn between the chute and the main portion of the turf course.

"We made the elbow a little more gradual," said steward Scott Chaney. "We thought it would be safer for the horses and riders."

The new distance has proven to be popular. Wednesday's maiden race drew 10 entries. Thursday, there were nine entries for a $50,000 claimer. The field was reduced to six because of scratches on Thursday morning, when three horses were reported to be sick.

There were 10 entrants for a maiden race Friday night, and an oversubscribed number of 15 for an allowance race in Saturday's sixth race. The race will be limited to 12 starters.

Jockey Garrett Gomez finished a troubled eighth in Wednesday's six-furlong turf sprint. He rode Storm Hearted, who leapt at the start, losing all chance. Gomez said the altered angle of the turn between the chute and main turf course made the course safer. "It blended right into the backside," he said.

Gomez said he thinks six-furlong turf sprints may favor horses racing near the front, since the pace is not likely to be as intense as previous Hollywood turf sprints, run over 5 1/2 furlongs.

"I don't think that everyone will send away from there like they do over 5 1/2 furlongs," he said. "I don't think you'll have the fractions that you had before."

In Wednesday's race, Puffball set early fractions of 22.20 and 44.95 seconds while being challenged for the lead. She eventually finished sixth. Race winner Melina's Fuse ($48.40) rallied from sixth, finishing six furlongs in 1:09.04.

Races to be drawn earlier

Hollywood Park has changed its entry schedule and will draw races three to four days before race days, effective Wednesday. Previously, the track drew entries two to three days before racing.

The change was made at the request of the California Horse Racing Board, which discussed the issue at its monthly meeting in October. CHRB commissioner John Harris said at the meeting that an additional day would allow trainers to better plan workout and medication schedules and could give track officials more time to promote races.

The new schedule takes effect this weekend. Entries will be taken on Saturday for Wednesday's races, Sunday for Thursday, Tuesday for Friday, Wednesday for Saturday, and on Thursday for Sunday.