07/21/2011 11:04AM

Evangeline: Category Seven will have to work to defend Matron title

Lou Hodges Jr.
Category Seven beat the boys in the Shiskabob at Louisiana Downs last year. She will defend her title in the Matron at Evangeline Downs on Saturday.

OPELOUSAS, La. – Defending Matron Stakes champ Category Seven appears to have her work cut out for her as she tries for an encore in this year’s edition Saturday night at Evangeline Downs. A 6-year-old multiple stakes winner of over $530,000, Category Seven will square off against a deep and diverse group of nine fillies and mares in the one-mile headliner on the grass, which is worth $50,000.

In 2010, Category Seven came into the Matron in top form and in the midst of a winning streak that included victories in the Top Courage against her own gender and the Shiskabob against male opponents at Louisiana Downs. Category Seven has once again found the winning habit. After a troubled second in the Grade 3 Ouija Board at Lone Star Park in late May, the daughter of Gulf Storm traveled to Indiana Downs on June 29 and won the $100,000 Shelby County Handicap to the tune of a $15.80 mutuel. Although her price will be considerably shorter Saturday night, it will not likely rival the 4-5 she was in winning this event last year, thanks to the quality competition. Tracy Hebert will handle the reins for trainer Kenneth Hargrave.

Joy’s Paradise heads up the opposition. Trained by Karl Broberg, who has won with a remarkable 30 percent of his 100 starters here this season, Joy’s Paradise is a three-time winner this year, including a victory in the Valor Farm Stakes at Lone Star in her most recent start. David Bourque will ride.

Skipping Town, stakes placed in her last two starts, has one effort over the Evangeline turf and it was impressive allowance score last season. In her most recent start, the Sam Ishaq-trained Skipping Town narrowly missed in the Honeymoon Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Leading rider Diego Saenz has the call.

Paper Shredder will likely be the controlling speed of the Matron and is holding what may be the hottest hand in the field. She has wired two quality allowance fields at Louisiana Downs this summer, including a 6 1/2-length score on June 26. She is a six-time winner from just 13 starts and will be making her first stakes appearance. Justin Shepherd, aboard for Paper Shredder’s two recent victories, travels down from his Louisiana Downs base for trainer Ron Faucheaux.