11/30/2014 8:05PM

La Tia stays in front in Matriarch Stakes

Benoit and Associates
La Tia and jockey Joel Rosario win the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths Sunday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – At a meet that combined the old with the new, there was something appropriate about La Tia winning the Grade 1, $300,500 Matriarch Stakes on Sunday’s closing-day card at Del Mar.

Del Mar has been around for more than 75 years, but the new era of a permanent fall meeting began this year. For Joel Rosario, who rode La Tia, it was like old times. A former riding champ here, he is now based on the East Coast. Rosario nursed La Tia ($6.60) through sensible fractions that kept her fresh for the stretch run, and she rolled to a 1 1/4-length victory over Queen of The Sand, with the favored Discreet Marq third in the one-mile grass race for older fillies and mares.

The win by La Tia provided the fairly new trainer Armando de la Cerda with his first Grade 1 win. Based in Chicago, this was his first runner here. He previously worked for trainers Noel Hickey, Mike Stidham, and Brian Williamson before going out on his own about two years ago.

La Tia got to the lead through an opening quarter in 23.65 seconds, then set splits of 47.92 seconds and 1:11.99 before throwing a sub-24-second final quarter-mile at her rivals to cover one mile on firm turf in 1:35.37.

“I was able to slow her down, and she had another gear,” Rosario said.

Queen of The Sand, last of seven early, rallied up the rail to catch Discreet Marq late and finish second by a half-length. Gender Agenda was fourth and was followed by Strathnaver, Sheza Smoke Show, and Kadaya.

La Tia, 5, has won 10 times in 23 starts, and the $180,000 winner’s share brought her career earnings to $983,326. She is owned by the Hernandez Racing Club of Salvador Hernandez.

This was the fourth win this year for La Tia, all in stakes. She won the Grade 3 Arlington Matron on Polytrack in May, the Grade 3 Ontario Matron on Polytrack at Woodbine in July, and in her most recent start captured the Grade 3 Athenia on turf at Belmont Park.