12/02/2008 12:00AM

'Kitten' retired, but Frankel still has Visit


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The finish of the Grade 1 Matriarch on Sunday at Hollywood Park was not exactly what trainer Bobby Frankel hoped for - veteran mare Precious Kitten and upstart 3-year-old filly Visit finishing two-three behind the sensational Cocoa Beach.

But the race did clear up one uncertainty. Despite the retirement of Precious Kitten, Frankel will be rock solid in the 2009 female turf division.

"Visit ran great - I'm expecting a lot from her next year," Frankel said.

Visit rallied from seventh behind a slow pace, to finish third while beaten 1 1/4 lengths. Now she is done for the winter, and Frankel said Visit will not run again until spring in Kentucky. She has won 2 of 9, and will aim for races such as the Grade 3 Distaff Mile at Churchill Downs, and the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont Park.

As for 5-year-old Matriarch runner-up Precious Kitten, she is off to the breeding shed.

"That was her last race," said Frankel, adding that owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson planned to breed Precious Kitten this spring to Street Cry.

Precious Kitten won 8 of 25 races and $1,912,543, including Grade 1 victories in the Gamely and Matriarch at Hollywood Park and the John C. Mabee at Del Mar. Originally owned by breeders Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Precious Kitten was purchased by the Jacksons prior to her 2008 campaign. She won 1 of 6 this year, and finished second in Grade 1 races won by Forever Together and Cocoa Beach.

BC Classic rivals get ready to run

A neck and a nose separated Colonel John and Champs Elysees when they finished sixth and eighth, respectively, in the Breeders' Cup Classic. For most horses, the race would mark the end of a long haul. Not this year. Colonel John and Champs Elysees will campaign straight into winter.

Colonel John is aiming for the Grade 1, seven-furlong Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, opening day of the Santa Anita winter meet; Champs Elysees is expected to start favored Saturday in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup at 1 1/2 miles.

Though he won the Santa Anita Derby in April and the Travers in August, Colonel John is a fresh horse.

"He's had one race since Saratoga, so it's not like he's over-raced," trainer Eoin Harty said.

Can he get up at seven furlongs?

"He did when he broke his maiden," Harty said, referring to biggest margin of Colonel John's five-win, 10-start career. It was a 4 1/2-length maiden win at age 2.

As for Champs Elysees, he is stretching out Saturday to 1 1/2 miles after finishing well in the BC Classic.

"He was flying at the end, but so was everybody else," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "He's going really well now."

Champs Elysees, who finished second in the 2007 Turf Cup, is in top form this fall. He won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer on Sept. 7 at Woodbine, and finished third in the Grade 1 Canadian International there Oct. 4, prior to his eighth-place finish in the BC Classic.

The main rival for Champs Elysees in the Turf Cup is expected to be the 5-year-old mare Black Mamba. Others aiming for the race include Church Service, Obrigado, Rush Rush, Spring House, and Winchester.

Contreras headed to Sunland Park

Luis Contreras has been squeezed out of the Southern California jockey colony, and was scheduled to leave Wednesday for Sunland Park, where he will ride regularly for trainer Steve Asmussen when the 2008-09 racing season begins on Dec. 12.

Contreras, 22, was a top rider in Mexico City and Northern California before relocating this summer to Southern California. But after a strong Hollywood Park spring meet where he won 7 of 56, business tailed off. Contreras was 3 for 41 during the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, and did not win a race in 37 mounts this fall at Hollywood.

Sunland Park "will be a good opportunity for him," agent Tom Knust said, adding, "It's hard to get anything rolling [at Hollywood] riding five or six a week."

Contreras is married with two small children; his family plans to join him.

Pamona Ball has stamina for Starlet

Pamona Ball was favored winning the Sharp Cat Stakes on Nov. 1, but she will be relegated to the role of spoiler against likely favorite Alpha Kitten on Dec. 13 in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet. Eoin Harty trains Pamona Ball, who worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Tuesday at Santa Anita. Although her top Beyer of 77 pales compared with the 91 earned last out by Alpha Kitten, a pair of two-turn wins by Pamona Ball gives her a foundation.

"She's getting better; she's a two-turn filly," Harty said, adding, "I'm not sure how tough the Starlet is going to come up."

The answer is not very. Aside from Alpha Kitten, who has not raced beyond six furlongs, the 1 1/16-mile race is expected to draw a modest field.

Laragh is a stakes winner, albeit on turf; Toro Bonito finished second in the Sharp Cat; trainer Bob Baffert and owner Arnold Zetcher will consider supplementing Moccasin Stakes fourth-place finisher Wynning Ride.

Pamona Ball is the only Starlet candidate with a main-track route win, but Harty is concerned that her off-the-pace style places her at a disadvantage.

He explained that when he trains a horse for the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, "you teach them to relax and come off the pace." In contrast, Harty said that when he prepares a horse for the Cushion Track at Hollywood, "you have to run and gun. There is a real track bias at Hollywood right now."

Through Sunday, 14 of the 42 main-track races (33 percent) at 1 1/16 miles had been won by the pacesetter. During the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, only 4 of 31 races (13 percent) at the distance were won by the pacesetter.

Candy Arches possible for Eddie Logan

The connections of Candy Arches are in no great hurry with the 2-year-old, whose facile victory Nov. 26 in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race suggested he might be a factor Dec. 20 in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity. No thanks, according to trainer Cliff Sise.

"I don't even have him nominated," Sise said.

Instead, Sise will point Candy Arches to the $70,000 Eddie Logan Stakes for 2-year-olds at a mile on turf Dec. 27 at Santa Anita. Even that plan is subject to revision, depending on whether Grade 3 Generous Stakes winner Mr. Rod runs.

"Mr. Rod would be real tough in there," Sise said. "If he goes, I might be looking at a one-other-than."

Candy Arches, by Candy Ride and produced by the Grade 2-winning turf mare Golden Arches, earned a 77 Beyer in the maiden race.

There is another reason not to run Candy Arches in the Futurity. He is owned by Sid and Jenny Craig Trust, which also owns Real Quiet Stakes winner Chocolate Candy, the likely second choice in the Futurity.