December 18, 2017

Matron draws miniscule field of five

Field running in front of the grandstand at Belmont Park (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography

Only five juvenile fillies were entered in Sunday’s $150,000 Matron Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park, the sister-race to Saturday’s Futurity Stakes (G3) going the same six-furlong distance.

One in the Matron field is actually cross-entered to take on the boys in the Futurity. Happy Like a Fool returns in either the Matron or Futurity off a trip overseas for trainer Wesley Ward.

After breaking her maiden by four lengths going 4 1/2 furlongs on Keeneland’s main track in April, Happy Like a Fool took a plane ride to Royal Ascot for a runner-up effort in the Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-G2) on June 21. She stayed in England for her next race, missing by 3 3/4 lengths when sixth in the Lowther Stakes (Eng-G2) at York on August 24.

Both those races came on the turf, so Happy Like a Fool will try to move her dirt record to a perfect two-for-two on either Saturday or Sunday with Tyler Gaffalione named to ride both days.

Valuable Package and Honey Graeme are both nice maiden winners who could earn a first stakes win in this spot.

Trainer Skip Einhorn sends Valuable Package out for her second career race after the Kantharos filly broke her maiden by 7 3/4 lengths on September 10 at Monmouth Park. Wilmer Garcia was aboard that day and ships in from Monmouth with the chestnut lass.

Honey Graeme goes in the Matron for conditioner Richard Violette Jr. off a third-place run in Woodbine’s Ontario Debutante Stakes on September 9. Irad Ortiz Jr. was aboard one race prior when the Graeme Hall filly broke her maiden at Saratoga by 1 1/4 lengths on August 6 and returns to the saddle for the Matron.

Take Charge Paula is the only stakes winner in the field, scoring a three-length victory in the White Clay Creek Stakes at Delaware Park on August 9. She broke her maiden by 4 1/4 lengths in her July 7 debut one race earlier at Monmouth Park, but was well-beaten last out when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2). Nik Juarez will be aboard the Take Charge Indy filly for the first time as she reverts in distance here.

Tarawa completes the Matron field, also off a well-beaten finish against stakes rivals. The David Duggan pupil showed nothing in her debut on the turf at Belmont in June, but pulled off a six-length victory against maiden claimers at Saratoga next out on August 3. The Field Commission chestnut lass tried the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park last out on September 2, but was beaten 15 lengths when tiring to sixth. Dylan Davis has the call Sunday.

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