December 14, 2017

Cambodia among tough cast of 12 in Matriarch

Cambodia and jockey Drayden Van Dyke outfinish Goodyearforroses to win the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2), on September 2, 2017 © BENOIT PHOTO

Half of the dozen fillies and mares scheduled to line up in Sunday’s $300,000 Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar enter the one-mile grass test with current form that’s hard to dismiss.

A three-time graded stakes winner this season, including the Yellow Ribbon H. (G2) and John C. Mabee (G2) during Del Mar’s summer session, Cambodia is riding high following a solid third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) to a pair of European shippers.

Kitten’s Roar also competed on Breeders’ Cup Day, albeit in the course-and-distance Goldikova (G2). That 2 1/4-length victory followed a stakes win at Kentucky Downs and a second in the E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine.

Front-running Hawksmoor had everything her own way wiring the competition in the Beaugay (G3) and New York (G2). After a minor setback in the Beverly D. (G1), the German classic winner strut some of her better stuff when second to Zipessa in the First Lady (G1).

Off Limits, a Chad Brown-trained mare who’s turned in some strong late kicks to win in the Noble Damsel (G3) and Athenia (G3) in her past two, flies in along with three-year-old stablemate Rubilinda, a daughter of Frankel who’s won three of her four career outings.

Another three-year-old, Lull, is arguably better in the six-to-seven furlong range, but comfortably captured the Autumn Miss (G3) against fellow three-year-olds going a mile and was second best over the same distance over this course in the San Clemente H. (G2) in July.

A longshot bid by someone else can not be ruled out. Pretty Girl finished within a length of Cambodia in the Yellow Ribbon, while Thundering Sky turned in her best try of the season when second in the Goldikova. Insta Erma beat Belvoir Bay a neck in the $75,000 Swingtime in early October, with that rival rebounding to take the 5 1/2-furlong Senator Ken Maddy (G3).

The final significant Grade 1 of the California turf season should be a doozy.

The $200,000 Seabiscuit H. (G2), for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, is similarly contentious. American (G3) winner Pee Wee Reese will attempt to fire fresh from a layoff approaching five months and will take catching on the front end.

Another that could display early foot at the distance is Mr. Roary, who rallied late to capture the Eddie D. (G3) down the hill at Santa Anita but was outrun in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Om fared a little better in the latter event earlier this month, but has a tendency to settle for minor awards. He has eight seconds and thirds compared to zero wins in his past 10 starts.

Hunt was the king of the Del Mar turf at the summer meet, capturing the Eddie Read (G2) and then stretching out to 11 furlongs to take the Del Mar H. (G2). Sub-par showings in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) and Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) mean he enters the Seabiscuit with questions surrounding his current form.

The final stakes of the Bing Crosby meet, and the finale on the nine-race Sunday program, is the $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille (G3) for juveniles at one mile on the turf. The Chad Brown-trained Analyze It might lay over the field with a repeat of his 6 1/4-length debut romp at Belmont on October 28, in which he was sent off as a 13-1 outsider.

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