06/02/2012 4:48PM

Delaware: Thundering Emilia ends two-year drought in John Rooney Memorial

Thundering Emilia, ridden by Julian Pimentel, takes the John Rooney Memorial by a length.

Thundering Emilia, winless in seven starts since coming to the United States from South America and a loser of 13 straight races overall, snapped a more than two-year drought by taking the $75,000 John W. Rooney Memorial Stakes on Saturday at Delaware Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Rooney on the grass served  as a local prep for fillies and mares pointing to the Grade 3 Robert Dick Memorial, at 1 3/8 miles on turf, on July 14.

Trained by Michael Matz for Teneri Farms, the 6-year-old Thundering Emilia ($4.60) had not won since taking a 7 1/2-furlong turf allowance in Peru on Feb. 7, 2010, although she did finish first by a nose a week later in a Group 3 event, only to be disqualified. Her best showings in the U.S. were a runner-up in last year’s off-the-turf running of the Rooney and a close third in a restricted turf stakes at Saratoga.

A Group 3 winner in Peru and second, beaten only a length in a Group 1 in that country, Thundering Emlia was ridden by Julian Pimentel, who was aboard in last year’s Rooney and a last-place showing as a 36-1 outsider in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on dirt.

“We are keeping her on the turf,” Matz said.  “Last year, when we first got her we ran her on the dirt her first couple starts, but she is staying on the turf now.  We are not sure where we are going next with her, but the Robert G. Dick Memorial is a possibility.”

In Saturday’s race, Thundering Emlia, breaking from the far outside in a field reduced to six horses by three scratches, contested the pace set by High Quality, who was stretching out off three sprints to begin her campaign. Those two battled  until the top of the stretch, when High Quality tired and faded. Martita Sangrita rallied on the rail to get within a head of the leader at the eighth pole, but Thundering Emilia dug down and drew clear to win by a  length.

Martita Sangrita finished second, a length ahead of Master Shade, the 9-5 second choice.

The winning time on a course rated firm was 1:42.37. Thundering Emlia has now won 7 of 28 starts overall.