02/11/2009 1:00AM

Ventura to challenge boys in Kilroe


ARCADIA, Calif. - A Breeders' Cup-winning filly trained by Bobby Frankel will go outside her division to face colts this spring in a prestigious Grade 1 at Santa Anita.

Although the campaign for Stardom Bound remains undetermined, Frankel said Tuesday that Filly and Mare Sprint winner Ventura will take on the boys March 7 in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf. It will not be the first time Ventura, owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, has faced open company.

"She beat Kip Deville in Canada, and that's as good as it gets," Frankel said, referring to the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile last September in which Ventura finished second and Kip Deville was fifth. Ventura won the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap in her most recent start, Jan. 31.

The Kilroe is one of three Grade 1 races March 7 in which Frankel may have a starter. Mast Track and Zambezi Sun will train into the Santa Anita Handicap, while Stardom Bound could run in the Santa Anita Oaks. A decision on her next start will be made by IEAH Stable co-president Michael Iavarone and partners, but Frankel prefers the Oaks for Stardom Bound, rather than wait for the Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

"I'm leaning to the Santa Anita Oaks," Frankel said. "It's hard to give up a Grade 1 when you're going to be 3-to-5. Rick [Dutrow] and I talked about it, and he agrees."

Frankel is training Stardom Bound this winter; Dutrow will train her when she leaves California.

Matto Mondo targets Grade 1 start

Meanwhile, the fastest two-turn horse to run this meet - Matto Mondo - also will go in a Grade 1 on March 7. But which race? Trainer Richard Mandella will decide between the $300,000 Kilroe and the $1 million Big Cap at 1 1/4 miles on the main track.

"I never thought of him as a horse that would go a mile and a quarter, but maybe he is now," Mandella said. "He's had a steady diet of races, and I don't see it [distance] being a problem."

In his first Pro-Ride start Saturday in the off-turf Grade 3 Thunder Road, Matto Mondo unleashed a brilliant performance that rarely occurs on artificial surfaces.

Matto Mondo whistled one mile in a meet-fastest 1:34.61, drew off by 3 1/4 lengths, and earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest two-turn figure of the winter meet. Matto Mondo, a Group 1 winner in Chile, is 1 for 3 at distances beyond one mile.

Mandella recognizes that if Matto Mondo goes in the Big Cap, "I could lose my rider to Tiago." Mike Smith rode Matto Mondo, but he also is the regular rider of Tiago, whose third-place comeback Saturday in the Grade 2 San Antonio stamps him as the likely Big Cap favorite.

Smith set for Turf Paradise stakes

Weekend stakes wins by Stardom Bound and Matto Mondo lifted Smith to 13th on the national earnings list with $861,328 from just 77 mounts. Saturday, the "money rider" will try to add to his total in an unlikely locale - Phoenix.

Smith will ride three stakes at Turf Paradise for trainer John Sadler - Machismo in the $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup, Zappa in the $50,000 Turf Paradise Handicap, and Storybook in the $50,000 Sun City Handicap. Smith, who began his career in New Mexico, told agent Brad Pegram he "hasn't ridden at Turf Paradise since he was a bug boy more than 20 years ago."

Pedroza targets return to riding

Jockey Martin Pedroza is undergoing rehab four times as a day at his home in Duarte as he recovers from a fractured pelvis suffered Jan. 11 when he was thrown from his mount during a post parade. His agent, Richie Silverstein, said Pedroza is "not in any pain; he's just waiting for the swelling to go down."

Silverstein said Pedroza could return by March 15 under a best-case scenario, but said a realistic target is opening day of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meet on April 22. Pedroza, 43, is an avid Los Angeles Lakers fan, and Silverstein said, "When the Lakers beat the Celtics in overtime [110-109 on Feb. 5] it probably sped up his recovery by two weeks."

Meanwhile, Silverstein has picked up the book of jockey Alonso Quinonez, effective immediately. Quinonez will ride Peace Chant in the Phoenix Gold Cup on Saturday.

Surface, jockey change for Model

Model will undergo two key changes - new jockey and new surface - on Saturday in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap. In the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares, Model will be reunited with jockey Rafael Bejarano, who replaces Michael Baze.

According to trainer Neil Drysdale, Abergwaun Farm owner Neil Jones requested the rider change. But the biggest factor will be surface. In her most recent start Dec. 7 at Hollywood Park, late-runner Model was unable to overcome a pronounced bias and finished second as the even-money favorite in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap.

"Hollywood was speed-favoring the last time she ran," Drysdale said, and he is right. The main track at Hollywood played favorably for front-runners in the fall, but Pro-Ride at Santa Anita has been kind to late-runners this winter.

The expected runners and weights for the Santa Maria include Leah's Secret, the 120-pound topweight; Visit, 118; Country Star, 116; Model, 116; and Santa Teresita, 114.

* Life Is Sweet, expected to start as the overwhelming favorite Sunday in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes, worked a quick half-mile (47.20 seconds, fastest of 19) Tuesday at Hollywood. Winner of the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes on Jan. 18, Life Is Sweet will meet Ginger Pop and Miss Singhsix on Sunday.

* Champs Elysees, seventh at 3-1 Sunday in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap, will wheel back Feb. 22 and return to turf in the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo, Frankel said. The likely Obispo favorite is Grade 2 San Marcos winner Artiste Royal.

* Frankel-trained Modern Look makes her U.S. debut Monday as the 119-pound starting highweight in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile on turf. She worked six furlongs Tuesday in 1:13.40.