11/12/2010 3:42PM

Tougher pace this time for Mother Ruth

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Lone Star Park
Mother Ruth, winning at Lone Star Park in May, does not figure to be able to set a slow pace like she did last time out when when she races Sunday in the Playa del Rey.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Mother Ruth is unlikely to get the same soft trip she got last month when she returns Sunday in the $55,000 Playa del Rey Stakes at Hollywood Park.

According to trainer Bob Baffert, it does not matter.

“I expect her to run like she did last time,” he said, referring to a 4 1/2-length victory in a slow-pace sprint stakes.

If she runs two alike, Mother Ruth can win the six-furlong Playa del Rey for fillies and mares. But the pace scenario is slightly more difficult than it was last month when Mother Ruth set slow fractions and defeated four rivals in the Lou Rowan Stakes.

In that 6 1/2-furlong race, Mother Ruth crawled the opening quarter in 23.48 seconds, the opening half in 47.33 seconds, and ran away from the field. Sunday in the Playa del Rey, Mother Ruth will chase sharp front-runner Holding Her Ground.

Mother Ruth, Holding Her Ground, and Subsidized are the principals in the Playa del Rey, which returns to the Hollywood stakes schedule after a one-year absence. The Baffert-trained Subsidized, Southern Fireball, Sister Dawn, Missdealornodeal, Silver Swallow, and Hallelujah Trail are also entered.

The only subpar recent race by Mother Ruth was a last-place finish in September at Del Mar.

“She did not like that track,” Baffert said.

Otherwise, the 4-year-old Mother Ruth has been relatively consistent, winning 5 of 12 races and $211,143.

Joe Talamo takes over for Martin Garcia on Mother Ruth, whose stablemate Subsidized enters with a three-race win streak. Subsidized won a minor stakes against 3-year-olds at Fairplex Park. She faces older stakes fillies Sunday.

“There’s nowhere to run her,” Baffert said. “We’ll see what she does.”

Martin Pedroza rides Subsidized.

Holding Her Ground is expected to set the pace under Pat rick Valenzuela. She has won four of her last five starts for 72-year-old owner-trainer Bobby Grayson.

“I’ve been in the sport 40 years, and she’s probably the best one I’ve had,” Grayson said.

Grayson claimed Holding Her Ground for $40,000 from a maiden victory in her first start at Calder in 2008. Her form improved this past summer and she is now 5 for 15 lifetime

“She was a light filly and hard to put weight on,” Grayson said. He said assistant trainer Robert Strauss Jr. “had a feeding program that worked for her. She has probably put on 200 pounds.”