11/26/2007 1:00AM

Precious Kitten gives Frankel record

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Eight is enough, enough for Bobby Frankel to pass the late Charlie Whittingham as the winningest trainer in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes. Frankel reached the top spot on Sunday, when Precious Kitten held safe favored Wait a While to capture the $500,000 Matriarch at Hollywood Park and avenge a disastrous trip in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Precious Kitten ($7.60) conceded the early lead to longshot Live Life, took over as the field turned into the stretch, and roared home in less than 23 seconds for the final quarter-mile to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths. Wait a While finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Lady of Venice. Live Life, Dance Away Capote, and Naissance Royale completed the order of finish.

Rafael Bejarano rode Precious Kitten, who completed one mile on firm turf in 1:33.63, the best time in four runnings since the Matriarch was shortened to a mile. The win was her seventh in 19 starts, and her fourth this year in nine starts. Precious Kitten, 4, was bred and is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

Neither the Ramseys nor Frankel were at Hollywood Park. Frankel has been training in the mornings in recent days, but has not been at the races while mourning the passing of his dog, Happy, who had cancer.

Frankel has won the Matriarch four straight years, and his eight victories have all come since 1996.

Precious Kitten had an ambitious campaign this year, with starts in Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, California, and New Jersey. She had finished first or second in 10 straight races before finishing eighth of 11 in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, in which Simply Perfect bolted on the first turn and eliminated her.

“Last time, she didn’t have the luck,” Bejarano said.

In the Matriarch, Precious Kitten appeared to be the lone speed, but she relaxed satisfactorily when Live Life was aggressively sent to the front.

”I just let [Live Life] go,” Bejarano said. “All the time, with the other horse on the lead, my horse was relaxing.”