Trainer Chad Brown goes for a closing day turf double at Del Mar, with major players in both the $400,000 Matriarch (G1) and $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille (G3) on Sunday.
Matriarch (G1) – Race 7 (6:31 p.m. ET)
Brown sends out defending Matriarch champion Viadera and millionaire Regal Glory in what could be their last hurrah. Viadera rolled off a fast pace to nip Blowout a year ago, topping a Brown exacta and giving the horseman his third Matriarch win in four years. The Juddmonte homebred figures to encounter a much softer pace scenario this time, as she tries to become the first repeat winner since Hall of Famer Flawlessly’s three-peat (1991-93) at old Hollywood Park. But she picks up a new rider in Flavien Prat.
Regal Glory, in pursuit of a Grade 1 laurel on her broodmare resume, has defeated Viadera in both of their match-ups this campaign. Rallying to take the Aug. 8 De La Rose S. at Saratoga, where Viadera was an unlucky fourth, Regal Glory also bested her when runner-up in the First Lady (G1) at Keeneland. While Viadera was along belatedly in sixth, Regal Glory parlayed superior positioning into a half-length miss. Regular pilot Jose Ortiz can mastermind a similar forward trip in this mile affair.
Half of the six-distaffer field is exiting the course-and-distance Goldikova (G2) on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, most notably beaten favorite Princess Grace. The Michael Stidham filly shouldn’t be judged too harshly for her third-place effort, considering that she found herself in the uncharacteristic role of pacesetter. Instead of employing her late kick, Princess Grace ended up setting the table for Going Global and runner-up Zofelle. Drawn on the rail with a returning Kent Desormeaux, Princess Grace might have another tactical conundrum in a race without a clear leader.
Zofelle has been consistent for trainer Brendan Walsh, except for her two prior Grade 1 tries. Sidelined after a fifth in the 2020 Just a Game (G1), she was sixth in the same Belmont Day feature this summer, well behind the troubled fourth Regal Glory. Perhaps the Goldikova is a better pointer to her chances in this spot with new rider Umberto Rispoli.
Goldikova fifth Bodhicitta, the trailer behind Viadera in last fall’s Matriarch, has not won since the 2020 Yellow Ribbon H. (G2). Rounding out the small field is multiple Brazilian Group 1 veteran Fast Jet Court, who adds blinkers for Michael McCarthy.
Cecil B. DeMille (G3) – Race 3 (4:31 p.m. ET)
Given a pre-entry in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), but not entered once lower on the preference list, Brown’s impressive debut winner Verbal instead competes in the Cecil B. DeMille. The Juddmonte homebred son of Flintshire delivered a power-packed rally when graduating by four lengths at Belmont Park Oct. 10. Verbal is likely to drop anchor again from post 10 here, but should get a beneficial pace set-up.
The McCarthy-trained Optimising was in action on the Future Stars Friday undercard, when runner-up in the Golden Mile at this trip. The only other contender with turf stakes experience is Il Capitano, who rebounded from a Zuma Beach S. flop to wire an off-the-turf allowance at Golden Gate.
Cabo Spirit broke his maiden in a course-and-distance wire job over Khantaro d’Oro, slow-starting firster Lottery Pick, and Stotland who removes blinkers after his debut ninth. Derecho Dandy and Get Back Goldie opened their accounts in front-running fashion in their first turf try. Barsabas stretches out following his turf sprint allowance score, and Albuquerque stakes-placed Groovy Huey promises to add speed in his new blinkers.