09/01/2009 11:00PM

Queen of the Catsle eyes repeat

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Benoit & Associates
Queen of the Catsle will try to win her second straight Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - The dice landed trainer Howard Zucker's way last summer at Del Mar. He seemingly could not lose. His luck went so well that when he entered two horses in the Daisycutter Handicap, the race split, he ended up with a horse in both divisions, and he swept them.

:: RACE OF THE DAY:

"Great day. Great meet," he said.

This summer, Zucker has tossed snake eyes.

"It's like a glacier descended," he said. "But you get used to the hot-and-cold nature of the game when you've been in it for 35 years."

A familiar face could help Zucker break the ice. On Thursday at Del Mar, the $85,000 Daisycutter, a five-furlong grass race, will be renewed. Queen of the Catsle, who won a division of the Daisycutter last year, will try to make it two straight and end a long, frustrating summer for Zucker.

"We're trying to repeat," he said at his Del Mar barn. "I got her fresh just for this race."

Unlike last year, when the Daisycutter overflowed, this year's race drew just six entrants, but it's a strong field. In addition to course specialist Queen of the Catsle, who has finished first or second in all three of her starts on the Del Mar grass, the field includes such accomplished female turf sprinters as Reba Is Tops, Royal Taat, and Cape of Bradford and Empressive Lady, who both ran strongly in an allowance race here last month.

After an aggressive campaign last year, Queen of the Catsle has raced just twice this year.

"She was a little banged up from the races last year. The turf is hard in the summer," Zucker said.

Queen of the Catsle is coming off a fourth-place finish in the at Hollywood Park, which marked the first time she had finished worse than second since May 2008.

"She was prompting the pace, and that's not just her," Zucker said.

Mike Smith replaces Victor Espinoza, who rode Queen of the Catsle in seven of her last eight races.

Espinoza ended up on Cape of Bradford, who crossed the wire first but then was disqualified to second for interference in a second-level allowance race Aug. 13. She is the speed of the race, and with the rails out 14 feet, that should enhance her chances.

Reba Is Tops beat Queen of the Catsle in the at Hollywood Park before dropping a nose decision in the Great Lady M. last time out.

Royal Taat dead-heated for second with Reba Is Tops in the six-furlong Great Lady M. Her trainer, John Sadler, said he is concerned the five furlongs of the Daisycutter "might be too short."