05/29/2009 11:00PM

Magical Affair prospering on grass


ELMONT, N.Y. - One way or another, trainer Michael Matz will be celebrating a magical affair on Saturday.

At 4 p.m., Matz's daughter Michelle will be marrying Rob Hyland, an NBC producer she met three years ago when her father trained Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. At 5:17 p.m., Michelle may have to excuse her father from the ceremony to find out how his 3-year-old filly Magical Affair did in the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park.

"I hope I have a good present after the wedding," Michael Matz said.

Magical Affair, a daughter of Giant's Causeway who brought $1.55 million as a yearling, is a prime contender in a solid renewal of the Sands Point, carded for 1 1/8 miles over Belmont Park's inner turf course.

Since being switched from dirt to turf, Magical Affair has two wins and a second from three starts. The second-place finish came in the Edgewood Stakes on Oaks Day at Churchill Downs, where Magical Affair was bumped hard at the start and then raced next to last for the opening half-mile, before rallying late to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind the Grade 1 winner Laragh. Magical Affair didn't change leads in the stretch of that race and wound up ducking to the inside.

Magical Affair has come from off the pace in all three of her turf starts. That style could be compromised by a distinct lack of pace in this field.

"I think if there's not that much pace she'll be a little closer. If there is pace, she'll be back where she has been," Matz said.

Julien Leparoux will ride Magical Affair from post 7.

One potential pace factor could be Bluegrass Princess, who comes off a first-level allowance win over Keeneland's Polytrack, a race originally carded for turf. She wore blinkers for the first time in that race, a suggestion jockey John Velazquez made following Bluegrass Princess's third-place finish to Gozzip Girl in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes.

"She'll leave there forwardly placed," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "We might be on an uncontested lead."

Gozzip Girl has won 3 of 4 starts on turf, including two stakes. She is the lone winner at nine furlongs in the field. Gozzip Girl, trained by Tom Albertrani, comes off a heartbreaking neck loss in the Grade 1 Ashland on Polytrack.