11/29/2013 2:29PM

Hollywood Park: Dayatthespa, Tiz Flirtatious get final shot at Matriarch Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Dayatthespa is a likely co-favorite in Sunday’s Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Sunday is the last dance for the Matriarch Stakes and a second chance for Dayatthespa and Tiz Flirtatious.

Those two head an outstanding field for the final Matriarch at Betfair Hollywood Park, a one-mile Grade 1 race for fillies and mares on turf that historically attracts a strong field. The 2013 cast is no exception – eight of the nine entrants are graded stakes winners.

Dayatthespa, fifth as the favorite last year, is back for another try.

“She deserved a do-over,” trainer Chad Brown said. “It was such a terribly unlucky event last year.”

Dayatthespa tried to jump the inner rail, struck herself, and is fortunate to still be racing.

Runner-up last out in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland, Dayatthespa enters the Matriarch at the top of her game. So does Tiz Flirtatious, last year’s Matriarch runner-up and a troubled sixth last out in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

“We were disappointed in the result, but not disappointed with her effort,” trainer Marty Jones said. “She was shuffled back at a critical point and had a little too much to do.”

[MATRIARCH: Get PPs, watch Sunday's card live]

Dayatthespa and Tiz Flirtatious – Grade  1 winners each with 8-for-13 records – are likely co-favorites in the Matriarch, race 8 on a card that also includes the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for 3-year-olds that is race 6.

The Matriarch field is deep, and includes Del Mar Oaks winner Discreet Marq, 2012 Matriarch winner Better Lucky, and the improving Pianist and Egg Drop. Wishing Gate, My Gi Gi, and Stormy Lucy also entered.

A year ago in the Matriarch, Dayatthespa was favored at 7-5. She became claustrophobic on the first turn, tried to jump the inner rail, and struck a front tendon with a rear hoof.

“For a while, we were unsure if she would be able to race again,” Brown said. “She did heal up nicely, we took our time. She’s finally back.”

Javier Castellano will ride Dayatthespa; Mike Smith rides Brown’s second starter Pianist.

Pianist has won 6 of 13 and will race in her first Grade 1.

“It’s a huge class test for her,” Brown said. “She’s another that’s continued to improve all year. It’s a matter of class for her.”

Two starts back, Pianist finished a neck behind top East Coast filly Laughing. In her most recent start, Pianist won a Grade 3 at Belmont.

“Both my fillies prefer firm,” Brown said.

It was raining Friday at Hollywood; the Sunday forecast was for sun.

Dayatthespa and Pianist have similar pace-pressing styles, while Tiz Flirtatious saves her best for last. After finishing sixth in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, Jones initially was unsure if she would bounce back in time for the Matriarch. She did.

“She seemed to bounce out of [the Breeders' Cup] better than her last race,” Jones said. By the time Jones decided to run Tiz Flirtatious, jockey Julien Leparoux had committed to last year’s winner Better Lucky. Tiz Flirtatious will be ridden Sunday by Joel Rosario.

Egg Drop improved this year when trainer Mike Mitchell moved her to grass. The gray filly moves up following back-to-back Grade 2 wins at Del Mar and Santa Anita. She has speed, but also is versatile. Egg Drop has won 5 of 11.

Discreet Marq has won 6 of 12 overall and is returning to California for the first time since winning the Del Mar Oaks in summer. Trained by Christophe Clement, Discreet Marq has won four of her last five starts and is facing older for the first time.

The Matriarch has been won by 3-year-olds the past two years; Wishing Gate also is 3. Runner-up in the Del Mar Oaks, she subsequently won a Grade 3. She will face older stakes fillies for the first time.