November 26, 2010

A Texas Sized Clash in the Matriarch

Although there are several entrants from California in the mix, today’s Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes should boil down to female turf stars coming from all places Texas, South Africa, and France. The eclectic trio will do battle today at Hollywood Park in one of America’s most important filly & mare turf races. The one mile affair not only brings together their obvious class, but it also allows them to test each other at an optimal distance.

Texas is represented by Wasted Tears, who will be in search of her first grade 1 win. When last seen in Southern California, Wasted Tears was winning her seventh consecutive race, as the Bart Evans trainee scored in the Grade 2 John Mabee Stakes by a nose at Del Mar. Since then, the terrific turf mare has had her long streak snapped when beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Proviso in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland last month. In the First Lady, Wasted Tears was surprisingly held in a stalking position in the early part of the race before taking the lead and then ultimately tiring. Today should be different, as Wasted Tears is expected to do what she does best, and gun for the early lead from her outside post. Setting the pace has been a tactic that has made Wasted Tears all but unbeatable in the past, and in the Matriarch it will be up to the rest to run her down.

Straight from France comes Special Duty.  The daughter of Hennessey holds the almost unbelievable distinction of being placed first in two separate classics. In both the English 1000 and French 1000 Guineas earlier this year, the three-year-old filly was given the victory after hitting the wire a nose and a head short. Special Duty was promoted to the win after the horses who narrowly finished first were disqualified for causing interference. Since those two important victories, she finished a well beaten seventh in the Group 1 Falmouth, in what was a poor effort, and then was sixth in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret last month in Paris. Her last race though may have been more like it though, despite the sixth place finish, she was beaten only 4 ¼ lengths by the best miler in the universe in Goldikova. She holds a class edge over the field, so if she takes to the firm turf of Hollywood Park, the others may be in trouble.

Unlike Special Duty, South Africa import Gypsy’s Warning has already run four times in North America. Although only victorious in her first race over here, she has run well each time while traveling from Monmouth to Woodbine to Arlington and finally to Hollywood in top level competition. A classic winner back in South Africa, she finally will get to run in the same place twice in a row today. In her last race, Gypsy’s Warning led for most of the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon, at 1 ¼ miles, before weakening to finish third, 1 ½ lengths behind Hibaayeb. Ridden by red hot jockey Joel Rosario, the cut in distance should be welcome to the five-year-old South African bred mare, who should now be able to take back off the pace and make her late run.

Three different stars, coming from very different places, should make for a most interesting edition of the Matriarch. There are four other females set to line up today, but it should come down to one of the big three. In a race that has been won in the past by the likes of Royal Heroine, Flawlessly, Starine, Intercontinental, and Ventura; whichever of the trio wins today will add another classy name to an already impressive list of winners.  Who do you think it will be?

Photo of Wasted Tears Courtesy of Benoit Photos


$2 Win Bet said...

There will be no catching Wasted Tears today!

Brian Zipse said...

I hope you are right $2 ;-)