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Hollywood Park: Motion ships in strong trio for Matriarch
By Brad Free
INGLEWOOD, Calif. – East Coast trainer Graham Motion is picking off Grade 1 races in California at such a high rate it might be time to shut the borders.
Motion shipped four horses west the past year, winning three Grade 1 races in California while racking up career-best totals coast to coast – $8.1 million in earnings, a Kentucky Derby victory, and 18 graded stakes. Too bad for Motion that 2011 is coming to an end.
“It’s kind of intimidating to have to start over again in about a month,” Motion said this week from his base in Maryland.
No need for a restart quite yet.
Motion will try to punctuate a dream season Friday at Hollywood Park, where the three-day Turf Festival begins with three Motion trainees in the Grade 1 Matriarch. The mile grass race for fillies and mares centers on Gypsy’s Warning, Summer Soiree, and Unbridled Humor.
It is the first time Motion started three in a Grade 1.
“That’s pretty much a certainty,” he said. “I’ve been expecting this was going to happen. Obviously, I like all these fillies; all three belong.”
Do they ever.
Gypsy’s Warning shipped and won the Matriarch last fall; Summer Soiree shipped and won the Del Mar Oaks in summer; 5-for-7 upstart Unbridled Humor could turn out best of the bunch. Add recent Hollywood Turf Cup winner Sanagas, and Motion is 3 for 4 in California Grade 1’s since last fall.
Yet even with three of the nine entrants, Motion is no lock in the Matriarch. Midwest shipper Never Retreat won 5 of 10 this year and could start favored in the final race of her career; locally based All Star Heart won four of her last five; Up In Time and Star Billing are improving 3-year-olds; Quiet Oasis and Madera Castana are outsiders.
Gypsy’s Warning is the most accomplished of the Motion trio, and Summer Soiree already is proven on the road, but relative unknown Unbridled Humor could soon join the elite of the division.
“I think she’s as talented as any grass filly I’ve had,” Motion said. Her raw ability comes packaged with idiosyncrasies.
“She is quirky to train in the morning, and somewhat quirky in the afternoon, but she is just as talented as the other two,” Motion said. “It’s just a matter of managing her quirks. She has a mind of her own.”
Unbridled Humor, a Grade 3 winner, sustained her only two losses on wet courses in New York. Firm ground is expected Friday at Hollywood.
Pace is a potential snag for front-runners Unbridled Humor and Summer Soiree.
“One concern is they have comparable running styles,” Motion said, adding that “Both fillies are tractable under the right circumstances.”
Ramon Dominguez rides Unbridled Humor; Gabriel Saez rides Summer Soiree, a 5-for-12 filly facing older for the first time. Regarding strategy, Motion said “I’m going to leave it up to them.” Along with sprint-to-route Quiet Oasis, the front could be busy.
A pace duel would benefit Gypsy’s Warning, purchased recently by Flaxman Holdings as a broodmare prospect. A 6-year-old, she has won 7 of 20, but is winless in four starts after taking the 2010 Matriarch.
“To me, it’s been more circumstances,” Motion said. “I can’t believe the luck we’ve had with her this year.”
Most has been weather-related. She was compromised by wet ground her first three starts this year, then finished sixth recently in her comeback. Joel Rosario rides Gypsy’s Warning.
Never Retreat won the Grade 1 First Lady last out and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Chris Block. The Matriarch is expected to be the final start of her career. All Star Heart won the Grade 2 Las Palmas last out for trainer Ron McAnally.
The Matriarch is race 9 of 10; the Grade 3 Miesque for 2-year-old fillies at a mile on grass goes as race 5.
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