10/16/2009 12:00AM

Queen Ofthe Catsle in tough


ARCADIA, Calif. - Queen Ofthe Catsle, the leading lady of California turf sprints in 2008, seems back to her best form this year, without the trophies to show it.

Last year, Queen Ofthe Catsle won the Grade 3 Maddy as the second of three consecutive stakes wins. This year, she has 1 win in 4 starts. In her last start, she was second by a head in the $200,000 Turf Amazon Stakes at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 26.

"It was a long way to get beat a short head," trainer Howard Zucker said.

The comforts of racing at home could put Queen Ofthe Catsle back in the winner's circle in Saturday's $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita.

"The only concern is that it's not an easy race," Zucker said. "I think she's always liked the hill. Being a closer, you expect the distance to be in her favor."

Queen Ofthe Catsle defended her title in the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar last month, winning the five-furlong turf race by a nose over Reba Is Tops, who is part of the Maddy field.

Queen Ofthe Catsle is best as a closer. In the five-furlong Turf Amazon, Queen Ofthe Catsle fought through the stretch and was beaten a head by Canadian Ballet over a yielding course.

"She doesn't like yielding," Zucker said. "She didn't have the same turn of foot on the going."

The Maddy field has seven 2009 stakes winners, including Gotta Have Her, who won the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Del Mar on Sept. 9, and Tuscan Evening, the winner of the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park in July.

Gotta Have Her is making her first start on the hillside turf course since winning the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap here in April, her third win on the surface.

"She's been working great," trainer Jenine Sahadi said. "She really likes coming down the hill."

Tuscan Evening won 2 of 3 starts on the hillside turf course last winter and spring. She was eighth in the Grade 1 John Mabee Stakes at Del Mar in August, but has rebounded since returning to Santa Anita, according to Dan Ward, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's assistant.

"She never really traveled well on that turf," Ward said. "She's back to her old self."