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Country Gal at Heart

Horse racing: Megahertz improves to 4-0 in U.S. with comeback victory in Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies.

June 09, 2002|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Unbeaten in her first three starts in the United States, Megahertz ran like she never had before in the $164,050 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

The 13-10 favorite in the Grade II, she appeared to have no chance with about a sixteenth of a mile to go. She lacked room and Arabic Song, the 3-1 second choice, had gotten the jump on her.

But jockey Patrick Valenzuela finally was able to find some room between horses, and Megahertz, a 3-year-old, English-bred filly, did the rest.

With an exceptional burst of speed, she got up and prevailed by three-quarters of a length. The final time for the 1 1/8 miles on turf was not impressive (1:51 4/5), but that was because of the extremely slow early pace. The first six furlongs were run in 1:16 4/5, so the final three-eighths were accomplished in a rapid 35 flat. The winner ran her final eighth of a mile in 11 1/5 seconds.

Owned by Michael Bello and trained by Bobby Frankel, who won the Honeymoon for the first time, Megahertz won only once in eight starts in France, but she is clearly one of the best 3-year-old grass fillies in this country.

"She has some kind of turn of foot," said Valenzuela, Hollywood Park's leading rider. "I've been on some horses that ... well, the last one I can remember with a turn of foot that quick was [1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner] Arazi.

"She's so nice. I really like this filly. I was following [Arabic Song] all the way around. When she got through, I just angled to the outside, and boom, she just ran by that filly like nothing. This is a very special filly."

It was the first stakes winner ridden by Valenzuela for Frankel since Al Mamoon in the 1987 John Henry. It was also the 110th stakes win for the Hall of Fame trainer at Hollywood Park, tying him with Ron McAnally for second on the all-time list. The late Charlie Whittingham leads with 222.

Like the winner, Arabic Song had been perfect in this country after coming over from France. Seeking her third consecutive victory, she finished a half-length in front of 3-1 second choice High Society. Then came Alozaina, pacesetter Red Little Lies, Doc's Lil' Angel and La Martina, who had finished only a nose behind Megahertz in their last meeting in the Providencia on April 13 at Santa Anita.

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When Hotel Hall won the second race, it gave jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. his 3,000th career victory at Hollywood Park.

Pincay, the world's winningest rider with 9,372 victories, added two more before the long day was over.

He won the fifth with 10-1 shot Munjiz and survived a stewards' inquiry to take the ninth with 4-1 shot Macaneo.

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Looking for her first stakes win, Fun House is the 5-2 favorite against seven other 3-year-old fillies in the $75,000 Manhattan Beach today at Hollywood Park. The ungraded race is at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Owned and bred by Verne Winchell's VHW Stables and trained by McAnally, the daughter of Prized will be returning to the grass after finishing a distant third behind September Secret in the Railbird Stakes on May 18.

She is also being reunited with jockey Chris McCarron, who has been aboard for both of her victories.

Carinae, who finished behind Fun House twice at Santa Anita, is the 7-2 second choice. Trained by Frankel for Flaxman Holdings, the daughter of Nureyev has one win in four starts in this country.

From the inside out, the rest of the field for the Manhattan Beach includes Partytime, Ristra, Ponche De Leona, Oriana's Magic, Ragin T Rex and Chupa.

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Palmeiro ($7.40) made it two wins in a row since being gelded with a victory in the $150,000 All American Handicap at Bay Meadows.

Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss and trained by John Sadler, the 4-year-old son of Pleasant Tap was ridden by Jason Lumpkins. He completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 1/5. It was his fourth win in 17 starts. Moonlight Meeting was second and Prodigious was third in the field of nine.

Sadler also won the eighth at Bay Meadows with Honesty Pays.

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