11/26/2004 1:00AM

Hard to get past Musical Chimes


PHOENIX - After Musical Chimes's superb win over Singletary and other males in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile, her trainer, Neil Drysdale, opted to try the boys again in the Breeders' Cup Mile. While victory eluded Musical Chimes, her sixth-place effort validated her Oak Tree BC Mile tally and firmly stamped her a top miler, regardless of sex.

Musical Chimes is the dominant horse in Sunday's Grade 1 Matriarch, a one-mile turf race. The only question is whether she will get a decent trip, something that didn't happen in the BC Mile.

In the BC Mile, Musical Chimes sat well back early. She tried to advance on the far turn but had nowhere to go, and jockey Kent Desormeaux had to steady her hard in the stretch when her path was blocked again. She got beat just over three lengths, and would have finished closer with clear sailing.

Traffic is a worry in the Matriarch, with nine fillies and mares going a mile. How Musical Chimes will handle the track is not a worry. She's winless in three Hollywood turf starts, but two of those races came against males, including in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham this past spring. In last year's Matriarch, her powerful rally fell just a neck shy of catching Heat Haze.

From almost any angle, Musical Chimes is the horse to beat on Sunday, and for wagering purposes I'll stick with her as a solid single. There are, however, options galore in terms of playing the exotics.

Intercontinental may be the second favorite, but I probably won't use her in the exacta. Instead, I'll key Musical Chimes in exactas over Denebola, a Group 1 stakes winner in Europe; Quero Quero, a solid second in her return here Nov. 3 after nearly three months off; and Ticker Tape, the best 3-year-old turf filly in the land.

I'm hoping Musical Chimes can put some money in my pocket and give me the chance to swing for the fences in the Hollywood Derby.

Superfecta the way to go in derby

Things are much less cut and dried in the Hollywood Derby, run an hour after the Matriarch. I picked Blackdoun on top in my Sweep selections for Hollywood, but from a wagering standpoint I'm less enthused about him unless I'm wrong on my morning line. I made him the 5-2 favorite based on his superb record prior to his dud in the BC Mile. There are questions about whether he wants to go this far, but there are none about his talent when things go his way. Should his odds float up I'll be more enthused, but in a race this difficult I don't want anything to do with a short price.

In fact, I'm not sure I want anything to do with exactas. In a race like this I'll take a big swing and try for the superfecta and a chance to visit the IRS window. I'm going to devise a 3 over 5 over 6 over 8 ticket ($240).

I'm hoping Blackdoun floats up in odds because some believe he can't get the 1 1/4-mile distance and are put off his dull BC Mile run. I'll use him in the top spot as well as Timo, who comes here fresh off a superb East Coast campaign, and talented European Fight Club.

In the 2 hole I'll use those three, plus Euro shipper Joursanvault, who beat Blackdoun last spring in France, and locally based Laura's Lucky Boy. Laura's Lucky Boy may not be Kitten's Joy, but he has had a fine campaign and has done his best work on this course.

In the 3 spot I'll use those five plus Fast and Furious, who shipped in from France before running fifth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby. He broke slowly, had to steady, was wide, and suffered a minor injury, yet was still beaten less than two lengths by Blackdoun and Laura's Lucky Boy. He's been pointed specifically to this race.

Finally, the fourth position will be taken up by those six, plus Hendrix, a severely troubled third in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Derby and previously a fine third in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby, and Imperialism, who while winless on turf has shown he can handle it and should like the distance.