11/24/2008 12:00AM

Imports always tough on Hollywood turf


Foreign form takes center stage at Hollywood Park this weekend, with the always intriguing Hollywood Turf Festival. Foreign-trained or ex-foreign-trained horses have won 9 of the last 11 Matriarch Stakes, 11 of the last 14 Citation Handicaps, and 5 of the last 8 Hollywood Derbies. They also have been first or second in 5 of the last 6 Miesque Stakes.

This year, such horses have very good chances of victory in all of those races.

Citation: No foreign newcomers are lining up for this 1 1/16-mile Grade 1, but Lord Admiral, trained in Ireland by Charles O'Brien, has a dark horse's chance. Ignore his dull effort in the Breeders' Cup Synthetic Mile (aka Dirt Mile). His forte is grass, and as a solid Group 2 performer in Europe he must be considered in the exotics. Seven of the nine Citation probables at press time are ex-foreigners, the best of them the tough-as-nails closer Whatsthescript.

Miesque: Keep an eye on Eloquently, the only foreign newcomer or ex-foreigner in the race. By Dansili, she popped at first asking, taking a one-mile, 141-yard maiden on the Wolverhampton Polytrack by five lengths from colts on Oct. 3. Bought privately by Michael Talla and turned over to John Sadler, she is a late-running type who "will go on to much better things," according to Timeform

Generous: Three recent arrivals from England are nominated to this one-mile affair for 2-year-olds. Battle of Hastings, a $149,000 Tattersalls October sale purchase, improved to win his last two starts at Newmarket and Doncaster in the handicap ranks. Diddums, like Battle of Hastings a son of Royal Applause, was bought for just $39,000 at the same sale and is merely a six-furlong Doncaster maiden winner, but was unlucky in his next two starts and showed marked improvement last time when second in a valuable Newmarket restricted allowance. Gyr, a son of Pivotal, chased subsequent Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Donativum in the $1.75 million Tattersalls Million off a 10-week layoff, then showed some improvement when fifth in a Leicester allowance. Sold for $78,000 at Tattersalls October, he probably prefers some give in the ground but appears to have a chance for a share.

Hollywood Turf Express: This is not a race in which foreigners do well. The only new face in the field will be the ex-Argentine Carrilero. The winner of a Palermo maiden by 1 1/2 lengths going six furlongs in his lone start in March, he is making his turf debut and surely requires further seasoning before standing a chance with company like he will be facing in this.

Matriarch: Five of the 10 early probables in this one-mile Grade 1 are ex-foreigners, and it is the most recently arrived among them who looks the biggest danger. Visit, trained by Michael Stoute for Juddmonte to finish fourth in her American debut in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, will be a bigger threat dropping back to a mile. In the Filly and Mare Turf, she shot to the lead along the rail entering the stretch but couldn't stay the required 10 furlongs. She will be saddled for the first time on Sunday by Bobby Frankel, who has won this race four times with Juddmonte imports. There is a very good chance that Visit will follow in the footsteps of Wandesta, Ryafan, Heat Haze, and Intercontinental and add her name to the Matriarch roll of honor.

Hollywood Derby: Patrick Biancone is hoping to make a splashy return to action with Albahri here, but the chances of the French-bred son of Bahri do not look good. An improving sort, he won a Saint-Cloud claimer by four lengths two back before taking the listed Grand Prix du Camp at provincial Le Croise-Laroche, but both of those were run at 1 5/16 miles. Supplemented to this 1 1/8-mile Grade 1, he may find the pace too quick. Midships makes his U.S. debut for the Juddmonte/Frankel team. A handicapper in England where he won just 1 of 7 starts this year, he is stepping up in class and down in distance, not a recipe for victory in a race as competitive as this.