11/17/2010 4:16PM

Late Cuddle auditions for future stakes in turf alowance


INGLEWOOD, Calif.– Late Cuddle may not be ready for a major stakes such as the $250,000 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 26.
With two wins in her first three starts in this country, the 5-year-old New Zealand-bred Late Cuddle has shown ample promise, but trainer Jerry Hollendorfer figures the Grade 1 Matriarch is too tough an assignment.
Instead, he is running her in Friday’s first race at Hollywood Park, a $48,000 allowance race over a mile on turf, and she will likely be favored to win.
“We can work our way up [to stakes] like we did with Tuscan Evening and Dakota Phone,” said Hollendorfer’s assistant trainer, Dan Ward.
Tuscan Evening zipped through her conditions before becoming a multiple stakes winner. Dakota Phone did the same earlier in his career and was the upset winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.
Late Cuddle has not run in a stakes in the last 10 starts of her 17-race career. A winner of six races, she won her American debut at Del Mar on Aug. 8, finished fifth as a 2-5 favorite on Sept. 3, and rebounded to win an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on Oct. 16.
The loss on Sept. 3 could be blamed on the trip. Late Cuddle prefers to race behind horses early, Ward said, and she was wide during that race.
“She was never relaxed,” Ward said of the Sept. 3 loss. “When she was covered up the other day, she ran like we thought she would.”
Rafael Bejarano, who has ridden Late Cuddle in her three U.S. starts, has the mount on Friday.
Friday’s first race drew only five fillies and mares, including the Hollendorfer-trained Dance to My Tune, who was second to Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita in March but is winless in nine starts this year.
The race also includes West Hope, a stakes winner in Brazil in February; the British import Farley Star; and Spring Style, who has been unplaced in five stakes this year.