A quartet of top fillies and mares will race this afternoon in the 34th running of the Milady Handicap, a Grade II stakes event covering a mile on the dirt at Hollywood Park.
Heading the sparse field is last year's winner, Adored, who has earned more than $800,000 in 22 starts. Ridden by Laffit Pincay and saddled with high weight of 125 pounds, Adored will attempt to become the second mare to repeat in this $100,000-added event. Calumet Farm's A Gleam won the Milady in 1952 and again in 1953.
Expected to be chasing Ethel D. Jacobs' talented mare are Agitated Miss, carrying 111 pounds with Rick Dominguez up; Mitterand, 120, Eddie Delahoussaye, and Lovlier Linda, 120, Chris McCarron.
Except for the difference in the sex of the horses, the tiny field is a duplicate of last Sunday's four-horse field for the Californian Stakes. For that race, Robert Umphrey, Hollywood's racing secretary and handicapper, asked for and received permission from the Racing Board to allow the track to add a race and move the Californian to the 10th, and last, spot on the program.
The short supply of female runners put Umphrey on the phone again this week.
"There are a lot of factors involved," Umphrey said. "First of all, in nearly every category, we've got a horse in training that looks like a candidate for an Eclipse award. That keeps people (owners) home. Nobody wants to bring a horse 3,000 miles to get beat.
"Like last week, Precisionist was the most thought-of horse, and now it's Greinton. Before that, it was Lord at War. Now they were all in that race. That scared some owners and trainers off.
"This time, it's Adored. I mean no one wants to go to war without the right gun.
"You've also got to realize that other tracks are offering big purses (four other big stakes are being held today at tracks around the country), and people want to go where they can win. So we asked the board for permission to add a race.
"Plus when we have a four-horse field, we lose about $500,000 in (betting) handle. Bettors shy away from a race like that. They don't like the exacta combinations, and they aren't sure they can win anything betting on or against Adored. So, they sit it out.
"We want them to get a chance to bet full fields. The purists will hang around until the 10th to watch the finest fillies and mares in the country. We put it at the end so it doesn't break up the bettor's day and force him to sit out a race."
A short field will not be a problem Sunday for the 46th running of the $100,000-added Inglewood Handicap. Six horses are expected to go to the post, headed by Hegemony and The Noble Player.
Hegemony, ridden by Darrel McHargue, is unbeaten in three American starts and should enjoy the 1 1/16-mile outing on the turf. The Noble Player, owned by Robert Sangster, is coming off an impressive victory over allowance company.
Horse Racing Notes Hollywood Park's million-dollar handicapping contest has proven to be an attractive lure for enticing patrons, but the promotional gimmick is costing Hollywood Park a tidy sum. Each Sunday, a $1-million prize is offered to anyone correctly predicting the winners of all nine races. The track is insured against the big score, so Marje Everett, chief operating officer, would be delighted to give away the jackpot. Any consolation prize, however, must be paid by the track. The last two Sundays have each produced a $100,000 winner, both handicappers failing in the ninth race after picking eight straight winners. Everett told the Daily Racing Form's Mike Marten: "We would be very, very glad to see someone win the $1 million. Not only would we prefer to see the insurance company pay the money, but we would also benefit from the publicity that would be generated by someone winning the million. We noticed a lot more enthusiasm last Sunday just because someone had won $100,000 the week before. Imagine the reaction if someone wins $1 million." . . . John Henry continued his work pattern in preparation for an expected start in the American Handicap next month, covering six furlongs in 1:13 4/5.