05/25/2013 5:15PM

Arlington: Imposing Grace extends Catalano's hot hand by upsetting Matron

Four Footed Fotos
Imposing Grace, ridden by Channing Hill, prevails in the Grade 3 Arlington Million.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Wayne Catalano stayed fairly quiet over the winter in Florida and Louisiana, and his spring in Kentucky (with a touch of Hawthorne) passed similarly. But this is Arlington – Wayne’s World – and Catalano is back in business now.

Catalano’s 10th winner from his last 23 runners at the meet came Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Matron, where Imposing Grace outstayed a couple determined rivals to post a half-length victory over Sisterhood.

Catalano, who lives with his wife at a nearby farm this time of year, wintered Imposing Grace in New Orleans, where she knocked heads twice with Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, finishing second in the Tiffany Lass Stakes and the New Orleans Ladies. The water got even deeper in Imposing Grace’s most recent start, a sixth-place finish in a good edition of the Grade 2 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill, and the Matron provided class relief, a return to an Arlington’s Polytrack that Imposing Grace handled last summer, and a stretch to 1 1/8 miles, a new distance that figured to suit the long-bodied daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker.

Imposing Grace ($19.20) got further assistance from an excellent start that propelled her to a clear pressing position as Lotta Lovin laid down moderate fractions of 24.83 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 49.38 for the first half.

“She broke so well,” said jockey Channing Hill, a prime beneficiary of Catalano’s recent hot streak. “Handicapping the race, I thought I’d be farther behind, but I loved my position on the backstretch.”

Imposing Grace poked her head in front in midstretch and stayed on determinedly when Sisterhood came off the rail and closed steadily in the final furlong. Sisterhood finished a neck in front of pace beneficiary Lotta Lovin, with Ausus, her late run blunted by the slow tempo, another neck back in fourth. Winning time for the nine furlongs was 1:50.21.

Imposing Grace, a 4-year-old filly owned by the Coffeepot Stables, won her fourth start and first stakes race. She was well spotted to succeed by Catalano – Mr. Arlington.