Updated on 09/15/2011 1:29PM

Three days of glorious grass racing

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Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Spook Express could garner some support as the year's outstanding turf mare if she were to win Sunday's Grade 1 Matriarch.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Led by an international cast of stars featuring Breeders' Cup runner-ups Forbidden Apple and Spook Express* (click here for lifetime PP's), and such highly regarded stakes runners as Aldebaran, El Cielo, Golden Apples, Irish Prize, Janet, Starine, Startac, Swept Overboard, Tranquility Lake, and Western Pride, Hollywood Park's Autumn Turf Festival promises to offer some of its best racing in years.

The turf festival is the focal point of Hollywood Park's brief fall meeting. Beginning Friday and running through Sunday, Hollywood Park will run six graded stakes races on the turf for total purses of $2.1 million.

The best is saved for last. Sunday's Hollywood Derby for 3-year-olds and Matriarch Stakes for older fillies and mares - both Grade 1 events worth $500,000 at 1 1/8 miles - each could have fields numbering the maximum of 14.

They are preceded on Saturday by the Grade 2 $500,000 Citation Handicap for older horses, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Generous Stakes for 2-year-olds. Friday's races are the Hollywood Turf Express for sprinters, and the Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, both Grade 3 events worth $200,000.

Spook Express, who finished second in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf 3 1/2 weeks ago, led a parade of Turf Festival runners who had their final workouts on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park. With jockey Mike Smith aboard, Spook Express was timed in 50.60 seconds for a half-mile around dogs, the orange traffic cones that protect the inside of the turf course.

Tom Skiffington, who trains Spook Express, said he is hopeful that a victory by Spook Express would sway Eclipse Award voters to consider the year's overall record of Spook Express in comparison to Banks Hill, the European import who won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in her lone North American start. That, plus the four-week gap between the Breeders' Cup and the Matriarch, are among the reasons why Skiffington said he sent Spook Express here.

In addition to Spook Express, the Matriarch field is expected to include Al Desima, Baldwina, Freefourracing (Gary Stevens the rider), Gino's Spirits (Victor Espinoza), Golden Apples (Garrett Gomez), Janet (David Flores), Lethal's Lady, Starine (John Velazquez), Starrer (Kent Desormeaux), Tout Charmant (Chris McCarron or Alex Solis), Tranquility Lake (Eddie Delahous-saye), Verruma (Tyler Baze), and perhaps Crystal Music (McCarron or Solis).

Freefourracing had a sharp workout on Sunday, covering seven furlongs on turf in 1:27.60, the best of seven at the distance.

As of Monday, 18 3-year-olds were being considered for the Hollywood Derby, but only 14 can run, with preference given to those who won, then placed, in graded or group stakes this year. The main body of the field is Aldebaran (Jorge Chavez), Blue Steller (Solis), Bowman Mill (Delahoussaye), Denon (McCarron), Homeland (Gomez), Indygo Shiner (Espinoza), Learing at Kathy, Mizzen Mast (Desormeaux), Sea to See, Sligo Bay (Laffit Pincay Jr.), Startac (Smith), Strategic Partner, Tiger Trap (Stevens), and Western Pride. In order of preference, Momentum (Corey Nakatani), Irish Warrior, Stormin' Heaven, and Reduit are excluded, at this point.

Both Smith and Stevens are riding in Sunday's Japan Cup, but will leave Tokyo immediately following that race and, through the magic of the International Date Line, are scheduled to arrive in time to ride Sunday afternoon at Hollywood Park.

Forbidden Apple, who was second in the Breeders' Cup Mile, was scheduled to be sent to California on Tuesday for the 1 1/16-mile Citation, in which he will meet El Cielo, a downhill turf specialist at Santa Anita who will try to stretch out around two turns. El Cielo turned in a dazzling workout Sunday, when he coasted five furlongs in 1:01.60 while seemingly toying with stablemate Swept Overboard, who got a faster time but was asked aggressively to keep pace. Nakatani rides Forbidden Apple, with Jose Valdivia Jr. on El Cielo. The rest of the probable Citation field is Capsized, Decarchy (Desormeaux), Good Journey (McCarron), Irish Prize (Solis), I've Decided (Flores), Native Desert (Delahoussaye), Purely Cozzene, Quake (Pincay), Sarafan (Espinoza), Takarian (Gomez), and perhaps Fighting Falcon.

The one-mile Generous is headed by Bill Mott-trained Miesque's Approval, who is shipping in from New York. McCarron has the mount. Others expected are Ecstatic (Espinoza), Hot Trotter, Hunter Cruise, Kith (Nakatani), Mountain Rage (Flores), National Park (Desormeaux), Paxtecum (Valdivia), Red Briar (Solis), Stage Call, and perhaps Yougottawanna (Pincay), who most recently upset Officer in the California Cup Juvenile.

Texas Glitter, second in the Turf Express last year to El Cielo, is returning to try again. And again he will have to beat a Craig Dollase-trained runner, this time Swept Overboard, who last month was fourth under Eddie Delahoussaye in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Others expected for the 5 1/2-furlong Turf Express are Blu Air Force (Solis), Devil's Roar (Pincay), Gibson County, Islander, King Slayer, Lexicon (Nakatani), Nuclear Debate, Speak in Passing (Desormeaux), and perhaps Rocky Bar (Gomez).

The Miesque, like the Generous at one mile, is headed by La Martina, who won the Hidden Light Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting and worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Sunday. McCarron has the mount. Others scheduled for the Miesque are Arabic Song (Espinoza), Daisyago (Delahoussaye), Farda Amiga, Film Critic (Gomez), Forty on Line (Nakatani), Lady George, Nunatall (Desormeaux), Red Little Lies, Riskaverse (Robbie Davis), and Stylelistick (Solis).

Spook Express PP's*


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