05/23/2010 11:00PM

Gamely distance suits Well Monied


INGLEWOOD, Calif. Trainer Howard Zucker is hoping that Well Monied can run to his expectations Saturday in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park and everyone on hand can appreciate it.

That certainly was not the case when Well Monied stormed home from sixth to win a one-mile allowance race on turf at Santa Anita on April 4. About the same time the field of seven reached the backstretch, the region was hit by an earthquake based in northern Mexico that registered 7.2 on the Richter Scale.

"My crew didn't feel it," Zucker said.

Of course, they didn't. They were too busy cheering for Well Monied when everyone else at the track was contemplating whether to make a run for it.

For the Gamely, Well Monied will face the toughest field of her career. The $250,000 race for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf will draw the best field for the division in California this year, featuring 2008 champion turf female Forever Together and Tuscan Evening, who has won four consecutive graded stakes on turf this year.

"It makes you want to look elsewhere,"

Zucker said. "But there is nowhere else to run."

Well Monied races for C.T. Grether Inc., and has won 4 of 9 starts and $371,300. She won the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap here last May and was later second in the Grade 1 American Oaks and third in the Del Mar Oaks as the even-money favorite last summer.

Well Monied was racing at shorter than her best distance in the one-mile race at Santa Anita in April, Zucker said, and should fare better over 1 1/8 miles on turf, the same distance as the Honeymoon.

"I'm hopeful we're about 90 percent right now," he said. "I'd like to have her 100 percent in the fall. A mile is too short for her."

The race is expected to draw a field of at least seven and Well Monied will be reliant on a quick pace to set up her closing kick. The other candidates include Cat by the Tale, General Consensus, Gotta Have Her, Medaglia d'Amour, and Princess Haya.

The presence of Forever Together, who was third in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita last fall, surprised Zucker.

"It's coming up really tough," he said. "I don't know how many horses would ship across the country to run against Tuscan Evening."

The $250,000 Shoemaker Mile next Monday will mark the first one-mile turf race for Mr Gruff, who has won four consecutive races on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita, including the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap on April 17.

Sunday, Mr Gruff worked seven furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park in 1:26.40.

"The distance should be no problem," trainer Ron Ellis said. "My only concern is he doesn't seem to like this grass as much as he did the grass at Santa Anita."

Mr Gruff will set the pace in the Shoemaker. The other probable starters are Compari,

Gallant Son, Global Hunter, Karelian, Monterey Jazz, and Riviera Cocktail.