11/27/2008 12:00AM

Extra distance should boost Madeo in derby


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - After Madeo finished a troubled second in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, trainer John Shirreffs could only shrug philosophically.

"It's turf racing, isn't it?" he said.

Madeo was blocked for about a sixteenth of a mile in early stretch and closed well to finish a neck behind Muny. The loss did little to diminish Madeo's status among California's 3-year-olds. He remains the horse to beat in Sunday's $500,000 Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park.

The Hollywood Derby will be Madeo's first start at 1 1/4 miles and first in a Grade 1. He became a graded stakes winner with a 10-1 upset in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf on Aug. 31.

"I think the added distance will suit him well," Shirreffs said.

Owned by breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, Madeo has thrived on turf. He had 2 wins in 5 starts on the main track from March until July, but was winless in two stakes during that time. Switched to turf during the summer, Madeo finished a troubled fourth in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap in August before winning the Del Mar Derby.

Madeo is part of a field of nine in the Hollywood Derby, which includes Gio Ponti, Court Vision, and Sailor's Cap, the first three finishers in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in July. Court Vision and Gio Ponti finished first and second in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 4.

The other starters are Muny and Dixie Chatter, first and third in the Oak Tree Derby; Cowboy Cal, who was placed first via disqualification in the Grade 3 Bryan Station Stakes at Keeneland last month; and the European imports Albahri and Midships.

Shirreffs dealing with pelvis injury

Shirreffs was speaking in his backstretch stable office, which was about as far as his range of travel would allow Thursday morning. On Nov. 21, Shirreffs suffered an injury to his pelvis when his pony wheeled in reaction to a rider being unseated during morning training hours.

Shirreffs said he heard "a pop" near his pelvis when the pony wheeled and he was able to climb off the horse. He was later taken to a hospital and kept overnight, but said that he had suffered no broken bones.

"I pulled some stuff, I guess," he said.

Shirreffs used crutches to negotiate his way around his office Thursday. An assistant, Felipe Rivera, will saddle Madeo this weekend.

Roshani goes from sales ring to stakes

When Roshani walked into the sales ring at Keeneland on Nov. 4, she was perhaps worth more than at any time in her life. Just 10 days earlier, she had won the most prestigious race of her career, the $250,000 Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita.

No wonder Richard Santulli paid $950,000 for Roshani at the sale.

A few days later, she was back at trainer Todd Pletcher's stable and being prepared for Sunday's $500,000 Matriarch Stakes.

"She didn't miss much training," said Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy. "She was gone 12 or 13 days."

In the Las Palmas, Roshani won her first race at the Grade 2 level and the third stakes of her career. It was her final start for Ben Mcelroy. She has won 7 of 13 starts and $481,300.

The Matriarch will be Roshani's second start in a Grade 1. She finished seventh after a poor start in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 3. In the Matriarch, Roshani is part of a nine-horse field that includes defending champion Precious Kitten and the 2008 stakes winners Black Mamba, Cocoa Beach, Criminologist, Magical Fantasy, Rosinka, and Visit. I Can See, who is stakes-placed this year, also is in the field.

Roshani will need a career-best effort to win, McCarthy said.

"I think her last race is good enough to be competitive," he said. "It would take her best race to win."

Romance Is Diane to Sunshine Millions

Romance Is Diane, a four-time stakes winner, has rejoined trainer Mike Mitchell's stable after being purchased for $1,350,000 by Frank Stronach at Keeneland earlier this month. Mitchell and Stronach are pointing Romance Is Diane to the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita on Jan. 24.

It is unclear whether she will stay in training throughout 2009. The 4-year-old filly could be retired and bred, Mitchell said.

"It's pretty much a one-shot deal," Mitchell said of the Sunshine Millions. "If she runs well, I could get a phone call. She's good right now.

"I've got plenty of time to make that race, and the race is right here."

Previously owned by Senji Nishimura, Romance Is Diane has won 5 of 16 starts and $712,718. A 4-year-old filly, Romance Is Diane was second against males in her last start, the California Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 5. At 2, she won the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet.

Gomez to ride in Asian stakes

Jockey Garrett Gomez, who leads the nation's riders in earnings this year, will ride in the Far East for the first two weekends of December, according to his agent, Ron Anderson.

Gomez is booked to ride Hollywood Gold Cup winner Mast Track in the $2 million Japan Cup Dirt in Hanshin on Dec. 7.

In Hong Kong on Dec. 14, Gomez rides American stakes winners Out of Control in the $2.6 million Hong Kong Cup and Awesome Gem in the $2 million Hong Kong Mile.

Gomez also will participate in an international jockey challenge in Hong Kong on Dec. 10 that will include Cornelio Velasquez of New York, Neil Callan and Jamie Spencer of Great Britain, Yasunari Iwata of Japan, Christophe Lemaire and Christophe Soumillon of France, Damien Oliver of Australia, Pat Smullen of Ireland, Andrasch Starke of Germany, and Douglas Whyte of Hong Kong. The leading rider in Hong Kong will be added to the roster in early December.

Anderson said that Gomez will ride the final week of the Hollywood Park fall meeting, which ends Dec. 21.