12/05/2008 12:00AM

At least a couple of possibilities to top Model


PHOENIX - There is much reason for happiness regarding the female handicap division for the upcoming 2009 season. Not only is there word that the marvelous Zenyatta will remain in training, but Cocoa Beach, now proven top-class on dirt, synthetic, and grass by virtue of her Grade 1 Matriarch win, will also stay in training. Top 3-year-old fillies Music Note and Proud Spell are supposed to, too.

But there are a number of people who, while likely happy at such news, are just as happy none of them will show up Sunday's Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park. After chasing such top-flight talent, this nice group of females gets a chance to grab the spotlight at 1 1/16 miles.

By virtue of good finishes behind the likes of Zenyatta and Carriage Trail in recent months, Model may well go favored. This Neil Drysdale filly first made her name on the turf, and that appeared to be where her future lay. A daughter of Giant's Causeway, she was by no means a disappointment on grass, but she may well be better on synthetic. She was second, within a length of Zenyatta, in the Grade 2 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar. She was second again in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland, though she got beat 7 3/4 lengths by monster winner Carriage Trail.

Drysdale brought her back to Southern California for Hollywood's ungraded It's in the Air on Nov. 2, the prep for the Bayakoa. She stalked the pace as the favorite, moved smartly to the lead, and won comfortably. The first two behind her that day, Spenditallbaby and Bai and Bai, are among seven lined up against her Sunday.

Model is surely very nice, but there are at least two very tempting options to her short price. Wake Up Maggie, trained by Julio Canani, is capable of big efforts and may be primed for such off the layoff. After all, some of her best work has come fresh. She was third in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas down the hill at Santa Anita in April (moved up to second via disqualification) in her U.S. debut off a long layoff. After some decent work this spring and summer, she was freshened for about seven weeks and came back at Del Mar to romp in the Adoration on Aug. 28. That was her first synthetic start in the United States. Not only did she earn a heady Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for her powerful score, but it's noteworthy who ran third that day, some 4 1/4 lengths behind her - Model.

Wake Up Maggie next tried the Grade 1 Spinster, like Model, but never really mustered a run while racing inside. She finished fifth, more than two lengths behind Model. Canani has freshened her since, and a string of strong works the past couple of months hint at her readiness.

Equally as scary is the returning Double Trouble, trained by Bobby Frankel. Like Model, she seemed to have turf as her forte when she came here from Europe, and she did well. She tried synthetic footing at Santa Anita last winter and spring, however, and found a new avenue. She romped in the Grade 1 Santa Maria in February and was a respectable third in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita there in March. Her form went south afterward, including being a well-beaten fifth behind Zenyatta in the Grade 2 Milady on this track.

She has been freshened since faltering in the Grade 2 Beverly Hills on June 29, and it may prove a wise move. She obviously handles synthetic, and if the vacation gets her back to her prior form, well, you get my drift.

Time to raise a glass

We are always asking industry leaders to take a stand, to take that first step to defeating some injustice by drawing a line in the sand.

I wish there were a spot on the Eclipse Award ballots to vote for Richard Fields. You may not know his name, but he's the owner of Suffolk Downs who has not only kept that track going, but deserves an industry's everlasting gratitude for being one of the first to honestly and truly put up his hands to stop horse slaughter.

His track instituted a zero-tolerance policy whereby any owner or trainer caught sending a horse to slaughter would be evicted. Suffolk management has booted five people from the track since. At a time when we look to honor top achievements of the year, let's be sure to recognize feats off the track as well, particularly ones like this that could have a reverberating - and certainly positive - effect throughout the industry.