07/04/2011 1:35PM

Hollywood Gold Cup: Miss Match ready to challenge males

Trainer Neil Drysdale says the 1 1/4 miles of the Hollywood Gold Cup should be ideal for his mare Miss Match.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Miss Match, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Stakes at Santa Anita in March, will make her first start against males in Saturday’s $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, and is expected to be the only female in the most lucrative race of the spring-summer meeting.

The Gold Cup will be Miss Match’s fourth consecutive start in a Grade 1. Following the Santa Margarita, she finished fourth in the Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Park in April and third in the Vanity Handicap here on June 18. The decision to start Miss Match was based on the race distance of 1 1/4 miles, trainer Neil Drysdale said.

“You can tell from her form that she likes a mile and a quarter plus,” Drysdale said.

A 6-year-old Argentine-bred mare, Miss Match has won 6 of 22 starts and $606,614. She has made three career starts at 1 1/4 miles – a win in the Group 1 Argentine Oaks and a third in the Copa de Plata on turf, both in 2008, and a fifth in the Delaware Handicap last summer.

In the Vanity over 1 1/8 miles, Miss Match was beaten three-quarters of a length by Blind Luck, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2010. Blind Luck is nominated for the Gold Cup, but is not expected to start.

Miss Match was two lengths behind the lead on the turn in the Vanity and closed steadily through the stretch.

“She doesn’t quicken and she did quicken the other day because the pace was slow,” Drysdale said.

Miss Match is part of a probable field of nine, including Californian Stakes winner Twirling Candy, Santa Anita Handicap winner Game on Dude as well as Aggie Engineer, Dark Cove, First Dude, Jeranimo, Setsuko, and Soul Candy.

Acclamation, the winner of two turf stakes at this meeting, may start, although co-owner Bud Johnston said over the weekend that a final decision was to be made on Tuesday. Entries will be taken on Wednesday.

There is a chance that defending champion Awesome Gem will join the field, although trainer Craig Dollase reiterated on Monday that it will be a “last minute” decision.

OBS graduates win maiden races


Brigand, who was purchased for $925,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales selected 2-year-olds in training sale in March, won his debut in Sunday’s sixth race. Earlier in the day, another OBS graduate, I’ll Have Another, led throughout a maiden race and won by three-quarters of a length. Brigand covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.94, while I’ll Have Another, who sold for $35,000 at the April sale of 2-year-olds, won his race in 1:03.96.

Brigand, by Flatter, races for Kaleem Shah and is trained by Bob Baffert. I’ll Have Another, by Flower Alley, races for Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill. I’ll Have Another may make his next start in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 7, O’Neill said.


◗ Trainer Peter Miller has been fined $750 after failing to report that a first-time starter was racing as a gelding in May, according to a ruling released by Hollywood Park stewards. Miller was cited after All Squared Away raced as a gelding in his debut on May 5, finishing sixth as a 6-1 shot in a maiden claimer for 2-year-olds.

◗ Jockey Christian Santiago Reyes has been fined $500 for “persistently whipping while the horse is not responding” in the third race on June 24. Reyes’s mount, Stormy Alibi, finished last at 55-1 in a $25,000 claimer and was 35 lengths behind Rockin Heather, the next closest finisher.