Friday, December 30, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Dec. 30, 2011 – Grade 3 winners Matthewsburg and Hollywood Hit head a full field for the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday. The six-furlong race drew 13 horses 3-years-old and up, with 12 to go.
Matthewsburg's Grade 3 win came at Turfway, and came this year, in the Speightstown Kentucky Cup Sprint. In his next two starts, also his most recent, he was a well beaten fifth in the Jimmy V Stakes at Churchill Downs and then was second, beaten nearly five lengths, in the Sophomore Sprint at Mountaineer, but both were run over sealed, muddy tracks and can be discounted. Trainer Mike Maker teams up with regular rider Victor Lebron.
Hollywood Hit, winner of last year’s Vigil Stakes (G3) at Woodbine, will be making his first start at Turfway, but 13 of his 19 career starts have come over all-weather surfaces and netted seven wins, two seconds, and a third. He was fourth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, in his most recent start, the Grade 3 Kennedy Road Stakes at Woodbine. Wayne Mogge trains and names Rodney Prescott to ride.
Joe Woodard brings 6-year-old Tend to the Holiday Cheer off a fourth-place finish in a Turfway allowance three weeks ago. The multiple stakes winner won the Forego Stakes at Turfway last January and is consistent under multiple conditions, whether off tracks, varying distances, or different surfaces. Perry Ouzts rides.
Golden Country, also finishing his 6-year-old campaign, will compete in the Holiday Cheer for the fourth straight year. He won two years ago and comes in to this year’s renewal off a head loss in a Mountaineer allowance on Dec. 11. Orlando Mojica rides for trainer Tom Bergin.
The field for the Holiday Cheer from the rail out: Plutonium (jockey Luis Martinez Jr.); Matthewsburg; Live From Appollo (Ben Creed); Taptowne, also trained by Mogge (Thomas Pompell); Hollywood Hit; Conchacer (Julio Felix); Too Wild for Words (Abel Mariano); Tend; El Gran Sol (Anthony Stephen); Our Rock Star (John McKee); Golden Country; and River Bear (Timothy Thornton). Recent runaway Turfway winner Pathoki remains on the also-eligible list.
The Holiday Cheer is the ninth of 10 races on Saturday's card. Racing begins at 5:30 p.m. and kicks off Turfway’s second annual New Year’s Eve Track Bash. Admission is free; some reserved seating remains.