11/30/2003 12:00AM

Heat Haze rallies to Matriarch win

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Heat Haze rallied from last in to final quarter-mile to win Sunday's $500,000 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park and in doing so became a leading candidate for outstanding turf female of 2003.

Heat Haze's victory in the Grade 1 Matriarch marked her fourth graded stakes win of the year and second in a Grade 1. She won the Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park in August.

Heat Haze had a trouble free trip in the Matriarch, enabling her to catch Musical Chimes in the final yards. Ridden by John Velazquez, Heat Haze ($10.60) ran a mile on turf in 1:34.43.

The win marked the fifth Matriarch success for trainer Bobby Frankel and the third for Juddmonte Farms. It was a record 25th win in a Grade 1 for Frankel this year.

After the race, Frankel campaigned on behalf of Heat Haze, who finished fourth to Islington in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

"Islington only had one race in this country and Heat Haze has been the most consistent in the country," Frankel said.

The Matriarch was Heat Haze's first start at a mile since she won the Citgo Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Because she had been running in longer races, Frankel urged Velazquez to be patient.

"I told him to ride with confidence," Frankel said. "I said, 'You won't break good, save ground, and your on your own. It was a perfect ride. If we'd gotten in any trouble, she might have gotten beat."

Chopinina set an early pace of 23.45 and 46.85 seconds, leading by a length over Belleski and Maiden Tower. Those three were within 1 1/2 lengths until early stretch when the field tightened.

Etoile Montante, the 2-1 favorite, was well-placed but lugged to the inside in early stretch and had to be steadied by jockey Jerry Bailey.

Musical Chimes rallied from 10th to lead in late stretch, but could not hold off Heat Haze, who rallied wide through the stretch to win by a neck. "Once she got through, she really punched hard," Velasquez said.

Musical Chimes finished a nose in front of Dedication, who was blocked in early stretch. Island Fashion, the winner of the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga in August finished fourth in her turf debut, followed by Magic Mission, Garden in the Rain, Mer de Corail, Chopinina, Dancal, Etoile Montante, Dress to Thrill, Maiden Tower and Belleski.

Heat Haze has won 7 of 14 starts and $1,183,696. Frankel said she is likely to stay in training in 2004, saying "No one said they were taking her away from me."