05/04/2012 11:18AM

Golden Gate: Oh Molly Brannigan enters Golden Poppy at top of game


Trainer Andy Mathis says his 3-year-old filly Oh Molly Brannigan is running with so much confidence that he has to run her in Sunday’s $75,000 Golden Poppy at 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Golden Gate Fields.

Three straight wire-to-wire victories since stretching out to routes will do that for a Thoroughbred.

The same holds true for a trainer.

“I’m a lot more confident than I was three months ago,” said Mathis, who hopes to notch his first stakes victory in the Golden Poppy, where his budding star will meet six rivals.

After one race in Southern California, Oh Molly Brannigan set the pace before finishing third in her first start for Mathis, which came at Golden Gate in a six-furlong maiden race on New Year’s Day. She then showed speed and stopped to finish last of nine in a similar race.

Mathis stretched the filly out to one mile and dropped her into the claiming ranks, and she won a $20,000 maiden claimer by a neck. She then won a Golden Gate starter allowance race by a head and captured a $32,000 optional claimer by three-quarters of a length in her turf debut.

“I wasn’t really thinking of this race when I entered her on the turf,” Mathis said.

Looking at her immediate pedigree, you wouldn’t necessarily think Oh Molly Brannigan would be best on grass.

Her sire, Utopia, had four Grade 1 victories in his native Japan as well as graded wins in Dubai and the United States. He was winless in eight turf starts but had two stakes placings while earning $537,491 on the surface. Her dam, Transcending, was also winless on the turf but placed in five of her eight starts on the surface.

Mathis doesn’t think the Oh Molly Brannigan needs the lead to win, but that is where she is likely to be in the Golden Poppy.

“Routing for her is not as stressful as sprinting,” he said. “She can go 49 instead of 45. She’s able to relax. I think her speed is natural, but she does relax. She’s capable of going 45 for a half if you let her, so I don’t think many will be able to get the lead on her.”

Because she relaxes nicely, she is able to dig in when challenged in the stretch.

The challenge in the Golden Poppy could come from Ize in Trouble, who comes from Sunland Park in New Mexico and makes her turf debut. She was third in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks in her last start.

Another contender is Jewel Seeker, who has won both her starts, a $20,000 maiden claimer and a starter allowance. Both races came on the Golden Gate turf.

Your Special Day was fourth in the Grade 3 Miesque on the turf, while Sweet Nothings, placed in two stakes here she failed to threaten in her turf debut behind Oh Molly Brannigan in her last start.