February 22, 2024

Brown looks to extend recent domination of Matriarch with four contenders

Whitebeam wins the 2023 Diana Stakes (Coglianese Photography)

The late Bobby Frankel captured eight renewals of the $300,000 Matriarch (G1) when it was contested at its original home of Hollywood Park. Since the race was moved to Del Mar a decade ago, it’s been Frankel’s protégé, Chad Brown, who has dominated the one-mile grass test for fillies and mares.

On Sunday, closing day of Del Mar’s fall meet, Brown will take four shots at winning the Matriarch for the fourth year in a row and for the sixth time in the last seven years.

Despite a dull fourth-place finish in the First Lady (G1) last out, Whitebeam might be the leading candidate among the quartet. Her form over the spring and summer was far more stellar, and included a victory over In Italian and Fev Rover in the Diana (G1). That was at nine furlongs, but an earlier win in the 1 1/16-mile Gallorette (G3) at Pimlico suggests this shorter trip should be okay.

Fluffy Socks, a Grade 3 winner on the Del Mar turf as a juvenile, has won only twice in her last 16 starts, while Beaute Chachee has yet to win above listed level. That makes Brown’s three-year-old contender, Surge Capacity, perhaps next in the pecking order. The daughter of Flintshire has won three of four, including the Lake George (G3) and Valley View (G3). However, no sophomore has captured the Matriarch since Better Lucky in 2012.

The local contingent is strong, too. Closing Remarks and Queen Goddess recently finished one-two in the Goldikova (G2), that being Closing Remark’s third graded triumph in her last four starts. Queen Goddess should move forward from that performance, which was her first since May.

The pace in the Matriarch will be provided by the three-year-old Ruby Nell, who ran her rivals off their feet in the Autumn Miss (G3) at Santa Anita last time, and Hamwood Flier, who held on for third in the Goldikova after leading until the stretch. Gracelund Gray and Elmwood Drive also have early foot.

The field is rounded out by French Group 3 winner Elounda Queen, who made no impact in her U.S. debut in the Oct. 14 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1), and Grade 2 scorer Wakanaka.

Earlier on the card, Lord Bullingdon leads a field of nine juveniles in the $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille (G3) over one mile on the turf.