11/15/2011 3:19PM

Hollywood Park: Miss Match back quick for Hollywood Turf Cup

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Barbara D. Livingston
Miss Match will face males in the Hollywood Turf Cup on Saturday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Neil Drysdale sent out Bourbon Bay and Miss Match to work in company Sunday morning at Hollywood Park and was so encouraged by the way both traveled over the grass that he decided to run both this Saturday in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, the first Grade 1 race of the fall meeting.

The participation of Bourbon Bay was expected, being as he has been one of the top long-distance grass runners on this circuit for the past two seasons. But Miss Match was somewhat of a surprise. She will be coming back just 15 days after racing in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, in which she finished last in a field of nine.

“She didn’t even run three furlongs the other day,” Drysdale said.

Her work Sunday was encouraging. Miss Match, with jockey Mike Smith aboard, more than held her own with Bourbon Bay and appeared to be going the easier of the two at the wire.

This will be the first start on turf for Miss Match in two years, and the first time she will have competed on the surface since Drysdale, a Hall of Famer, took over as her trainer. This will be her third race against males this year, all in Grade 1 races. Miss Match was seventh in the Hollywood Gold Cup and fourth in the Goodwood. Drysdale believes that the 1 1/2-mile distance of the Turf Cup, and the likelihood of firm ground, will both suit Miss Match.

“There’s no reason not to try her,” he said.

The only female to have won the Turf Cup is Miss Alleged, who won it in 1991, just a few weeks after her victory against males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.

Bourbon Bay has not raced since finishing eighth and last in the Northern Dancer at Woodbine on Sept. 18. That was an uncharacteristically poor performance for Bourbon Bay, who won the San Marcos earlier in the year at Santa Anita and was narrowly beaten in both the San Luis Obispo at Santa Anita and the Del Mar Handicap.

“He doesn’t really go on soft ground, so the plan after the Northern Dancer was to skip the Breeders’ Cup,” Drysdale said. “If he’d have run there, it would have been an exercise in frustration.”

Others expected for the Turf Cup include Ashtar, Falcon Rock, Goldwaki, War Element, and Sanagas, who was scheduled to arrive Wednesday for trainer Graham Motion following a win in the Sycamore at Keeneland in his last start. Norvsky is possible for the Turf Cup, but may await next week’s Citation.

Sunday’s feature race, the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes for 2-year-old fillies going seven furlongs, will have a small field, with the likes of Eva’s Joy, Made to Love Her, and Woebegon among the few possible starters.