In continuing his domination of Hollywood Park’s annual Turf Festival, trainer Bobby Frankel nearly had a $1-million weekend.
When Intercontinental, the 9-2 second choice, and 12-1 shot Etoile Montante finished 1-2 in the $500,000 Matriarch, the centerpiece of the six races, it left the barn with Festival purse earnings of $829,000. The total could have exceeded seven figures had Greek Sun, who would have been favored, not been forced to miss the $500,000 Hollywood Derby Sunday afternoon.
In providing Frankel with his second Matriarch win in a row, third since 2001 and sixth overall, Intercontinental, who is not an easy filly to ride, got a perfect trip from jockey Jerry Bailey and prevailed by two lengths in 1:35.87 for the mile.
Owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, who also ran Etoile Montante, Intercontinental picked up her first Grade 1 score and her eighth win in 15 lifetime starts.
Even without a starter in the Derby, Frankel won four Festival races over the weekend to raise his career total to 15, more than double the next trainer, Richard Mandella, on the list.
“All you have to do is look down the shed row and you can see why Bobby wins so many of these things,” said Bailey, whose only other Matriarch win had come with 30-1 longshot Duda in 1995. “I was able to get a good position on the first turn, which to me is crucial going a mile.
“She did get a little bit rank around the first turn, but by the time I was headed up the backside, I was where I wanted to be and the way I wanted to be there. She was back relaxed a little bit. At that point, I thought it was just a question of when I had a chance to let her run.”
This was the fourth win of 2004 for Intercontinental, but her first since she had won the Just A Game on June 5 at Belmont Park. Her only bad effort came on a soggy turf course in the Diana Handicap on July 31 at Saratoga. She finished fifth as the 4-5 favorite, beaten 11 1/2 lengths by winner Wonder Again.
“People forget in a hurry that you have good form when you run one or two bad races,” Frankel said. “They just forget. We wanted to get a Grade 1 for this filly because the whole family have been Grade 1 winners.”
Ticker Tape, trying to possibly stake her claim to an Eclipse Award, finished third, beaten by a nose by Etoile Montante, who set the pace, in her first race against older horses. It was only the second time in 10 starts in 2004 the 3-year-old Royal Applause filly had been worse than second.
The Matriarch disappointment was Musical Chimes. The 9-5 favorite and second in this race a year ago, she finished sixth, becoming yet another Breeders’ Cup Mile performer to run poorly this weekend. On Saturday, Nothing To Lose and Special Ring, who had also competed at Lone Star Park four weeks earlier, were off the board in the Citation.
Bailey’s work wasn’t complete with the Matriarch. He also stuck around to ride Good Reward, a 16-1 shot, to victory in the Derby.
Making his first start in a Grade 1, the 3-year-old Storm Cat colt took charge late, held off 4-1 second choice Fast And Furious, then withstood a stewards’ inquiry for his fourth lifetime victory. In winning by a half-length, he finished the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.53.
Owned and bred by Ogden Phipps and trained by Shug McGaughey, who hadn’t won a stakes at Hollywood Park since Lass Trump took the 1984 A Gleam Handicap, Good Reward had won the $110,000 Storm Cat on Oct. 10 at Keeneland in his most recent race before Sunday, but his best finish in a graded race had been fourths in the Saranac and Hill Prince, both Grade III’s, earlier this year in New York.
Thunder Touch, a 6-1 shot, rallied to beat Papua, another 6-1 shot, and seven others to win the $111,600 Fall Highweight Handicap over a sloppy surface at Aqueduct.
A 3-year-old son of Gulch owned by Frank Stronach and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Thunder Touch had to survive a stewards’ inquiry and a claim of foul by Javier Castellano, the rider of the runner-up, for alleged interference in the stretch, but the race was finally made official after a lengthy delay. Under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Thunder Touch completed the six furlongs in 1:09.83.