11/01/2001 12:00AM

Feverish out to snap losing streak in Matron


ARCADIA, Calif. - With retirement a possibility at the end of the year, Feverish has a score to settle in Saturday's $150,000 California Cup Matron at Santa Anita.

Last year, Feverish and Queenie Belle dueled through the stretch in the Matron, which Queenie Belle won by a nose.

Since then, Feverish has had sketchy form. She won two stakes last winter - the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park and the minor Paseana Handicap at Santa Anita - but has lost six consecutive races. The losing streak includes a second in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap last February, a fifth in the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park in June and a dull second to Cee Dreams in the E.B. Johnston Stakes at Fairplex Park on Sept. 9.

Trainer Dan Hendricks has an excuse for the loss at Fairplex Park.

"She had some hard races early in the year and she had a very slight lung infection that cleared up when we treated it," he said.

In recent weeks, Feverish has worked well, including two bullet workouts at Santa Anita on Oct. 13 and 19.

"She had four good works," Hendricks said. "Everything seems back to normal."

Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod, the 6-year-old Feverish may be retired at the end of the year. A winner of 12 of 39 starts and $886,533, she could get close to the $1 million mark in earnings with the Matron's first-place check of $90,000.

There are 11 fillies and mares trying to beat her. They range in ability from Grade 1 winners whose careers have fallen on hard times (Notable Career) to a maiden who is hopelessly overmatched (The Woman in Black).

Notable Career will be coupled with Favorite Funtime as an entry owned by John and Betty Mabee. A top performance by either 3-year-old filly would put her close to Feverish, but neither is coming off such a race.

Notable Career, the winner of the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes in 2000, has been fifth and eighth in two races this year, beaten double-digit lengths in both. The Matron will be her first start for Bill Spawr, who took over from Bob Baffert following an eighth in an allowance race/optional claimer over a mile on turf on Oct. 4.

Favorite Funtime had an outstanding Del Mar and seems to be the stronger half of the entry. A front-runner trained by Baffert, she won the restricted Piedra Foundation Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 24, but was only fourth behind Queenie Belle in the Grade 2 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Sept. 29. (Queenie Belle was unplaced in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last weekend.)

Those two figure to give Feverish a target. Feverish can lead, but has shown the ability to rate behind the pace. If she goes too fast, the race may set up for a longshot closer such as Continental Lu or Cee Dreams, the winner of the Johnston Stakes.

Hendricks is hoping the recent workouts are a sign that Feverish has regained her old form.

"She ran some good races at the beginning of the year," he said. "If she runs back those races, she'll win by five."