05/24/2013 4:52PM

Hollywood Park: Schiaparelli more focused since equipment change


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Schiaparelli’s career was stalled until trainer Mike Puype and owner-breeder Jan Vanderbos revived a family technique designed to alleviate jitters.

Vanderbos recalled Cambiocorsa wore ear muffs during eight wins on the Santa Anita hill before her broodmare career. Her first foal was Schiaparelli, whose racing career started with back-to-back wins. Then she became a nervous Nellie and lost three straight.

“She was blowing a lot of energy in the post parade,” Puype said.

Vanderbos suggested ear muffs. Puype thought blinkers might help calm her down. The changes worked. Schiaparelli crushed an allowance, and then gave Mizdirection a scare while finishing second last month in a Grade 3.

Ear muffs and blinkers have “given her more focus. She’s been less nervous in the post parade,” Puype explained. Sunday at Betfair Hollywood Park, the only ones edgy might be Puype and Vanderbos when Schiaparelli starts favored in the $70,000 Great Lady M. Stakes.

“It’s a big race for her,” Puype said. “She is stakes-placed, graded stakes-placed, and I’d like to make her a stakes winner. Her value would go up quite a bit.”

The odds are Schiaparelli and jockey Joe Talamo will deliver. Six fillies and mares entered the six-furlong turf race that Schiaparelli should win if she reproduces her April 13 runner-up finish to Mizdirection.

“She ran a big race, and no shame getting beat by Mizdirection,” Puype said. There are no such rivals Sunday, and the pace dynamics of the Great Lady M. further enhance the chances of Schiaparelli, who drew post 6 of 6.

“It’s the perfect post, and I don’t see a drop of speed,” Puype said.

Although Puype would prefer Schiaparelli have a target to chase, that is unlikely. None of her rivals is quick. Curvy Cat, a deep closer, won a main-track stakes last out. Givine won the 2011 Great Lady M. from far back and has since lost 15 straight. Customer Base and Purim’s Dancer are not as quick.

If there is an upset Sunday, it could be Northern California shipper Greatest Escape. Jeff Bonde trains the 4-for-6 filly, runner-up last out with a horrendous trip in which she was badly blocked along the Golden Gate rail rallying to finish second while possibly best. Edwin Maldonado is her rider. Greatest Escape could show more speed Sunday.

While the stakes is big for Schiaparelli, Sunday also is a big day for the top filly-mare sprinter in the Puype barn. Mizdirection is scheduled to work seven furlongs under jockey Mike Smith as she prepares for a June 8 showdown with Centre Court in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park.