January 30, 2023

Regal Glory, Pizza Bianca return to Del Mar for Matriarch

Regal Glory led throughout in the 2021 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar (© Benoit Photo)

After scoring a Grade 1 breakthrough in last fall’s Matriarch (G1), Regal Glory prolonged her racing career with a winning spree. Now the Chad Brown mare comes full circle for a title defense in Sunday’s $400,000 renewal at Del Mar, aiming for a last hurrah following a series of losses. Her rivals include Pizza Bianca, another hoping that a return to Del Mar will spark a return to the win column.

Matriarch (G1) – Race 7 (6:30 p.m. ET)

Regal Glory will try to become the first to repeat in the Matriarch since Hall of Famer Flawlessly, who captured three straight runnings (1991-93) at its original Hollywood Park venue. The six-year-old will likely employ different tactics from a year ago, when circumstances dictated her front-running coup. On Sunday, speed merchant Hamwood Flier will be the one playing catch-me-if-you-can.

Although Regal Glory exits the worst result of her life – a 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) – the Peter Brant colorbearer had been in fine form throughout the season. Her 2021 Matriarch was the beginning of a four-race winning skein comprising the Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G3), Jenny Wiley (G1), and Just a Game (G1). Regal Glory’s streak ended with a runner-up effort versus males in the Fourstardave H. (G1) at Saratoga, and she was second again to free-wheeling stablemate In Italian in the First Lady (G1), her course-and-distance prep for the Mile. Flavien Prat picks up the mount for her swan song.

Pizza Bianca earned her signature win in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), at this very track and one-mile trip. The Christophe Clement trainee has won just once since, landing the May 20 Hilltop S. at Pimlico, but she’s only raced four times as a sophomore. Pizza Bianca shipped to Royal Ascot for the Coronation (G1), where she wound up eighth, and needed a spell on the sidelines to regroup. A closing fourth in the Oct. 15 Sands Point (G2), the well-bred daughter of Fastnet Rock could improve for the tightener. She did take a detour, however, through the sales ring in the interim, as a high-profile RNA for $3.45 million at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November. The Bobby Flay homebred teams up with Umberto Rispoli in her first start against older distaffers.

Brown has the other three-year-old filly in the line-up, multiple Grade 3 vixen Dolce Zel, who had a detour of a different sort in the Bluegrass. Expected to be a prime player in the Valley View (G3) at Keeneland, she was scratched upon order of the veterinarian. Thus Dolce Zel has not been seen since placing third in the Aug. 20 Lake Placid (G2) at Saratoga. Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. will guide her in this first attempt in a Grade 1 as well as versus elders.

Wakanaka, second to Regal Glory in the Just a Game, renews rivalry at arguably a better place in her career arc. The Bill Mott pupil has gone on to capture two of her next three, the Dance Smartly (G2) and Keeneland’s Fall Harvest S. In between, Wakanaka was seventh in the Woodbine Mile (G1) behind future Breeders’ Cup Mile star Modern Games. Joel Rosario stays aboard.

Rounding out the East Coast-based contenders is Bipartisanship, although the Graham Motion filly got a head start on her West Coast invasion. She rolled to a course-and-distance victory in the restricted Kathryn Crosby S. on Nov. 12, beating Gold for Kitten.

Avenue de France upended Going Global two back in the John C. Mabee (G2). That was the culmination of her productive summer at Del Mar, including a late-running tally over Hamwood Flier in the July 23 Osunitas S. Avenue de France regressed last out in the Goldikova (G2) at Santa Anita, checking in fifth to Going Global and England’s Rose. Hamwood Flier, on the other hand, moved forward in the interim by wiring the Oct. 9 Swingtime S. at Santa Anita. Multiple Cal-restricted stakes winner Eddie’s New Dream has found graded company more challenging, with her best placing a third in the Wilshire (G3).

Cecil B. DeMille (G3) – Race 5 (5:30 p.m. ET)

Speed Boat Beach, ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland, stretches out to a mile in the $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille (G3). The Bob Baffert colt had dominated his first two starts, a dirt maiden here and the Speakeasy S. on the Santa Anita turf, and he’s bred to route. Both his sire and broodmare sire, Bayern and Pioneerof the Nile respectively, were two-turn stars for Baffert.

Lloyds Logic, in contrast, is proven at a route but not on turf. A romping winner of the 1 1/16-mile Gottstein Futurity at his former headquarters of Emerald Downs, the son of The Factor makes his debut for Jerry Hollendorfer. He had also been an entrant in the Nov. 20 Bob Hope (G3) before scratching.

Ah Jeez has been more effective sprinting than in his two-turn tries. Twice a winner here and third in the Speakeasy, he was unplaced in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf (G3) and Zuma Beach (G3). Most of their opponents are stepping up from maiden scores. Ransomware was a narrow course-and-distance winner for Phil D’Amato, with Fleet Feet a near-miss third. Graduating at Santa Anita were First Peace, Game Time, Ze’bul (in a sprint on debut over Ransomware), and Kolomio (for a $62,500 tag).