Golden Apples Is Ripe for Victory

Times Staff Writer

Golden Apples might have been fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf last month, but she’s still the favorite to win an Eclipse award and could erase all doubt Sunday with a win in the $500,000 Matriarch at Hollywood Park.

The Matriarch comes on the windup day of Hollywood’s Turf Festival, a $2.1-million stakes weekend that starts today with the Miesque and the Hollywood Turf Express, a pair of $200,000 races. Good Journey, third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, will try to repeat in the $500,000 Citation Handicap, which heads a Saturday card that includes the $200,000 Generous for 2-year-olds. Besides the Matriarch, Sunday’s card includes the $500,000 Hollywood Derby.

Although Starine was an upset winner in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, that has been her only win of the year and since then the French-bred 5-year-old has been sold by owner-trainer Bobby Frankel for $1 million as a broodmare prospect.

Golden Apples couldn’t beat Starine in last year’s Matriarch, running third, but this year, before the Breeders’ Cup, trainer Ben Cecil’s filly put together five solid races. She has had three wins and two seconds, including Grade I victories in the Beverly D. at Arlington Park and the Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita.


Pat Valenzuela, who returned Wednesday at Hollywood Park after not riding the first 15 days of the meet due to accumulated suspensions, rode Golden Apples in both of her Grade I wins and will be aboard again in the Matriarch.

“It was a bad trip from the start,” Valenzuela said of Golden Apples’ Breeders’ Cup. “I got hammered leaving the gate and we just about clipped heels. I had to grab my filly. That left me where I didn’t want to be, and then she had too much ground to make up after being shuffled back that far.”

Sunday’s six rivals for Golden Apples include Banks Hill, who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf -- the race she had won in 2001. Others running are Affluent, who has beaten Golden Apples twice; European invaders Choc Ice and Dress To Thrill, who was eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile; Magic Mission and Tates Creek, who is Banks Hill’s stablemate.


Favored Lido Palace drew the inside post in a field of 12 for today’s $400,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.... Valenzuela, who hasn’t ridden in New York since 1994, will be aboard Crafty C.T. in the $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Saturday. The 10-horse field also includes Aldebaran, Congaree, Red Bullet, Harlan’s Holiday and Bonapaw.


Turf Festival

What: Turf stakes races worth $2.1 million.


Where: Hollywood Park.

When: Today through Sunday. First post is 12:30 p.m. each day.

The races: Today, $200,000 Miesque and $200,000 Hollywood Turf Express; Saturday, $500,000 Citation and $200,000 Generous; Sunday, $500,000 Matriarch and $500,000 Hollywood Derby.