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Frankel unveiling fresh faces
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - This is a time of transition for trainer Bobby Frankel. Out with the old, like Badge of Silver and Cacique, who have been retired to stud, and in with the new, including Price Tag, who won the Matriarch Stakes last Sunday.
Price Tag was one of several European imports who arrived in recent weeks for Frankel. All were intended for 2007 campaigns, but Frankel called an audible with Price Tag, who was bred and is owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.
"They sent her to me and said 'Do what you want,' " Frankel said. "No instructions come with these horses. They didn't send her to run in this race. I took it easy with her at first, and she had a pretty good work and looked good, so I thought I might as well go ahead and run.
"She might be the nicest filly I've been around. In the paddock, a 3-year-old could have saddled her. She was so quiet. She just stood there. She didn't care who was around her. My job would be a lot easier if more horses were like that in the paddock. She didn't move an inch."
Frankel said Price Tag would get a lengthy vacation before resuming her career next year.
"The big races are at the end of the year," he said. "There's no sense in running her at Santa Anita. I'll get her ready for the summer."
Frankel will be plenty busy in the meantime. He will send out Neuilly on Sunday in the Grade 2, $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap, King's Drama in the Grade 1, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 9, and has an influx of recent imports to ready for upcoming campaigns.
One of the newcomers is Phantom Rose, who makes her United States debut in Friday's fourth race, a second-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Phantom Rose, by Danzig out of the outstanding racemare Honest Lady, won twice in five starts on turf in France earlier this year.
"I want to get an idea of how she'll run on dirt or Polytrack, whatever," Frankel said.
Another newcomer, Notable Guest, might join King's Drama in the gate for the Turf Cup.
Vague may fill void in O'Neill's barn
Sharp Lisa could run against the best on both dirt and turf. She was retired after the Breeders' Cup Distaff, and sold as a broodmare prospect the next day. Trainer Doug O'Neill is hoping that Vague, who makes her first start for O'Neill in the Bayakoa, can take her place.
"We're hoping she can fill the Sharp Lisa void," said O'Neill, who will train Vague for Paul Reddam, who also owned Sharp Lisa.
Vague, 3, most recently finished seventh in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on turf at Keeneland. She is racing on the main track on Sunday. Earlier this year, she won a pair of dirt races at Nad al Sheba in Dubai, including the UAE 1000 Guineas.
"She's doing really well," O'Neill said.
Her rivals include Neuilly, who bled in her last start, according to Frankel.
The Bayakoa, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, is also expected to include Bella Banissa, Foxysox, Silver Highlight, and Tanta Suerte.
They come for Turf Festival - and stay
Price Tag is the most prominent of the many horses who ran here in last weekend's Turf Festival and who will remain here next year. The Turf Festival, which was canceled last year because of a poor turf course, again proved crucial this year in attracting European and East Coast runners who subsequently stay on this circuit.
Besides Price Tag, there are several horses exiting the Generous Stakes, Miesque Stakes, Hollywood Derby, Matriarch, and Citation who will stick around, including Miesque winner Valbenny.
"I don't think there's three days in California that bring as many horses here," Martin Panza, Hollywood Park's vice president of racing, said when asked about the success of the Turf Festival. "Those horses will stay here and help us, Santa Anita, and Del Mar."
Ramsgate possible for Malibu
Frankel said that Ramsgate, who won a second-level allowance sprint on Sunday, could make his next start in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on opening day at Santa Anita, Dec. 26. He is now 3 for 3 at Hollywood Park, but winless in five starts elsewhere.
"Maybe it's because he doesn't have to ship," Frankel said. "He had excuses in some of his races. He was too close. He ran on the turf. He's got to sit back and settle."
Frankel said another 3-year-old, Latent Heat, is likely for the Malibu.
Brother Derek to Malibu?
The Malibu also might lure Brother Derek, who was scratched from Sunday's Hollywood Derby because of colic. The illness came and went so quickly that Brother Derek was back on the track Wednesday morning at Hollywood Park.
"It was painful for him, but he got right out of it," said his trainer, Dan Hendricks.
Hendricks said the Malibu was a possibility. He said he would consider Santa Anita's Sir Beaufort Stakes as an early season alternative to the Malibu "if I want to stay around two turns."
Two races taken off turf
Hollywood had three races scheduled for the turf on Wednesday, but moved two of them to the main track. The second and fourth races, both for maidens at one mile, were moved to 1 1/16 miles on the main track. The featured seventh race, a third-level allowance, stayed on the turf. Hollywood was hit by a strong storm Monday, but it was dry and clear here on Wednesday.
"The turf's probably in good shape," Panza said. "But we've got the Turf Cup coming up in a week and a half, and there's no reason to tear it up with two maiden races.
"We'll put the rail out to protect the inside part of the course. I don't want to risk it running 20 maidens over it. It just wouldn't be a smart thing to do with the Turf Cup coming up. We're doing this more out of precaution. If this was the last day of the meet, we'd run over it."
* Boboman, preparing for the Turf Cup, worked a mile in 1:37.20 in company with stablemate Spellbinder for trainer Richard Mandella on Wednesday morning. Spellbinder is aiming for the Grade 3, $100,000 Native Diver Handicap on Dec. 10.
* Another possible Turf Cup starter, Meteor Storm, worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 for trainer Wally Dollase.
* The Tin Man, the Arlington Million winner, is being freshened at River Edge Farm in the Santa Ynez Valley. "He's in the presidential suite," Mandella said. "I'll give him 60 days there, then he'll come back."