12/20/2004 12:00AM

Festival upsets in Dahlia


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Festival, who was soundly beaten in her last 10 starts in Japan and the United States, scored an upset in Monday's $150,000 at Hollywood Park.

The race was transferred from turf to dirt on Sunday after a group of jockeys said the turf course was unsafe. The turf course was not used in the final two days of the meeting.

As a result of the surface switch, leading contenders Belleski, Janeian, Katdogawn and Hoh Buzzard were withdrawn. Penny's Fortune, a stakes winner earlier in the meeting, had been previously scratched.

Facing only four rivals, Festival ($13.40) finished 1 1-16 miles in 1:42.11. Ridden by Danny Sorenson, Festival was fourth in the first half-mile, chasing Irgunette, who set an early pace of 23.32 and 45.61 seconds.

Sorenson brought Festival through along the rail on the final turn, engaged Irgunette in early stretch and won by six lengths. Irgunette held second, finishing nine lengths clear of Belle Ange, who was followed by Midwife and Navaja.

Festival races for Grand Farm and is trained by Paddy Gallagher. A 5-year-old, she has won 5 of 20 starts and $607,550. She was uncompetitive in her final nine starts in Japan, finishing no closer than eighth.

The Grade 3 Dahlia - downgraded one level because of the surface switch - was Festival's second start in the U.S. She finished sixth in the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap on turf at Santa Anita on Sept. 29.