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Jockey Gabriel Saez and Proud Spell after winning the Matron
There were two stakes races at Belmont Park for the juvenile divisions on Saturday, with 7,361 on hand on a cool afternoon under sunny skies. The $250,000 Matron Stakes (G2) featured a field of seven 2-year-old fillies sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Delaware Park shipper Proud Spell was sent off as the 7-5 favorite, undefeated in 2 starts including a 5 length romp in the White Clay Creek Stakes in her last start. In to challenge her were 3-1 second choice Syriana's Song, winner of a maiden event at Saratoga last out, and 7-2 third choice Armonk, third in her only start, when she was defeated by Syriana's Song.
Proud Spell takes the lead in the stretch on the outside over Armonk.
8-1 Miss Red Delicious battled on the pace with 26-1 outsider Maren's Meadow down the backstretch through a quarter in 22.44 and a half in 45.80, while favorite Proud Spell sat in mid-pack fifth early. Entering the stretch, the pacesetters tired as Armonk, who had stalked the pace in fourth, moved up to take the lead through 3/4 in 1:11.36. Proud Spell came out wide into the stretch and closed with a rush when asked by jockey Gabriel Saez, running right by Armonk inside the 1/8 pole and drawing clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:24.20 over the fast track. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 32-1 longest shot Dagger in third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Proud Spell Saez 5.40 3.00 2.50 6 Armonk Coa 3.60 3.40 4 Dagger Elliott 7.60 Winning Time: 1:24.20 $2 Exacta 3-6 23.20 $2 Trifecta 3-6-4 203.00
Proud Spell in the winner's circle. Her trainer Larry Jones said, "We've been able to bring her along at a natural progression with distances. With her running style, she likes to come from off the pace, so we're not expecting two turns to be a major problem. She's come home quick in every race, and most of the time, under a hand ride. We haven't asked her to do a whole lot. More than likely, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies will be our next start."
Proud Spell returns after the race. Her jockey Gabriel Saez said, "This is my first graded stakes win. It feels pretty good. This is a very nice filly. She relaxed great and finished up when I asked her to run. I'm excited about the Breeders' Cup."
Second place finisher Armonk leaves the paddock before the race. Her trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "Armonk is still learning. It was great to run second in a Grade 2. Now, we can either go back in a maiden race or stretch her out again. The Breeders' Cup only comes around once."
Her jockey Eibar Coa said, "My horse ran a big race. She's
a maiden going up against stakes horses and this was only her second
start. She'll improve off this."
Third place finisher Dagger returns after the race. 32-1 longest shot Dagger raced close up along the inside under jockey Stewart Elliott, chased the pace but lacked a rally, finishing third. The Jim Ryerson trainee improved her record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $53,800 for owner Bobby Hurley.
Tale of Ekati starts to draw away from Kodiak Kowboy and Mythical Pegasus in the stretch
18-1 Mythical Pegasus battled up front with The Leopard through a quarter in 22.90 and a half in 46.46, while favorite Kodiak Kowboy sat close up in fourth to the outside. Into the lane, Mythical Pegasus stubbornly held onto the lead through 6f in 1:10.49, but the two favorites were quickly closing the gap. Inside the final furlong, Tale of Ekati took over the lead and was all out to hold off the late rush of Kodiak Kowboy to prevail by a length in 1:22.33. It was just a neck back to pacesetter Mythical Pegasus in third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Tale of Ekati Coa 8.70 3.40 2.50 6 Kodiak Kowboy Bridgmohan 2.40 2.10 2 Mythical Pegasus Bejarano 3.80 Winning Time: 1:22.33 $2 Exacta 3-6 18.20 $2 Trifecta 3-6-2 87.50
Tale of Ekati in the winner's circle. His trainer Barclay Tagg said, "He's a very nice colt. We've been very high on him since we've gotten him to the track. He came back after his last race with some sore shins. We gave him some time to freshen him up. He came back well in his workouts. I'm with him all day, every day, and you can really tell when a horse is coming to himself. We are very excited about him. We'll probably train him straight up to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile."
Tale of Ekati returns after the race. His jockey Eibar Coa, who won 2 of the 4 stakes races on the card, said, "He was very professional and really helped me out. I was in trouble the whole race, being trapped inside. He was patient with me and didn't get stupid. As soon as he came through, I knew he had it. I've liked him form he first time I sat on hi8m. I think he is very good."
Second place finisher and beaten favorite Kodiak Kowboy in the post parade. His trainer Steve Asmussen said, "He ran well. They came home the last eighth of a mile in under 12 (seconds). It was a very good race. They ran the Matron in 1:24 and change and this one went in 1:22 1/5. We ran second today. I don't want to take anything away from the winner. He got left at the gate and ran a great race to beat us. We'll probably train him up to the Breeders' Cup."
His jockey Shaun Bridgmohan said, "The winner had a
dream trip. My horse dug in and ran hard every step of the way. He ran
hard to the wire."
Third place finisher Mythical Pegasus heads out for the post parade. 18-1 outsider Mythical Pegasus was hustled up along the inside by jockey Rafael Bejarano, set the pace under pressure by The Leopard, and dug in late to hold third place. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee improved his record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 4 starts with earnings of $75,782 for owner-breeder James Spence.
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