05/29/2010 11:00PM

Evening Jewel switches to turf


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - If trainer Jim Cassidy is right -- that Evening Jewel fancies turf over synthetic or dirt - then the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap on Monday at Hollywood Park could turn out to be a one-filly race.

Evening Jewel has never raced on grass. There was no need. She ran Blind Luck to a photo finish in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes on Santa Anita synthetic, won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes on Keeneland synthetic, then missed by a nose to Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks on dirt.

Not a bad resume - 3 wins, 5 seconds, and earnings of $516,943. But as early as January, Cassidy speculated Evening Jewel was itching for grass.

"I worked here on this thing twice," he said, referring to the Santa Anita turf. "I was pointing for turf races here, and she worked fabulous."

Instead of starting Evening Jewel on turf in the $70,000 China Doll or $150,000 Providencia at Santa Anita, Cassidy and owners Tom and Marilyn Brady waited until spring to switch surfaces, when turf-race purses and prestige catch up to the main track.

The 1 1/8-mile Honeymoon leads to a series of Grade 1's for turf fillies -- the American Oaks on July 3 at Hollywood, Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 21, and the Queen Elizabeth II in fall at Keeneland. The turf sequence begins just in time; the final major main-track stakes for 3-year-old fillies in California is the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks on June 6.

The field for the $150,000 Honeymoon, race 3, includes graded stakes winners City to City and Cozi Rosie, minor stakes winner In the Slips, graded-stakes-placed Andina, and longshots Dream to Dream and Triple Cream.

The race is void of speed, which means Evening Jewel and jockey Victor Espinoza could inherit the lead. It is how she won the Ashland.

"The only time this filly has been on the lead is when there was no speed," Cassidy said, "she is comfortable no matter where I put her."

Evening Jewel worked six furlongs on the Hollywood turf May 23 in 1:12.80 with the dogs up.

"I didn't think she was going that fast," Cassidy said. "She went her usual good self."

City to City and Cozi Rosie traded decisions in their last two starts. City to City won the Grade 2 Providencia at Santa Anita when Cozi Rosie finished a troubled seventh; Cozi Rosie won the Grade 3 Senorita on May 2 at Hollywood when City to City finished third.

Proctor: Belleofthebridle out to build on debut

It is appropriate that Walther Solis trains the favorite for the first 2-year-old stakes of the meet. After all, Solis has won a season-leading seven races for 2-year-olds. None was more impressive than Belleofthebridle, debut winner by 5 3/4 lengths.

Her smashing win April 21 earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure, highest of the meet by a 2-year-old, and she will be favored to defeat six males in the $60,000 Willard L. Proctor Memorial (race 2) at 5 1/2 furlongs. Favorites have won six of the last 10 Proctors.

However, second-time starter J P's Gusto could be poised for an upset after a better-than-looked debut. He broke slowly, raced wide, waited behind runners into the lane, split horses late, and finished full of run. That was a 4 1/2-furlong race; the David Hofmans trainee stretches out Monday to 5 1/2 furlongs and can spring an upset.