09/11/2008 11:00PM

Matron may set up for a closer

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ELMONT, N.Y. - A number of fillies in the Grade 2, $250,000 Matron Stakes for 2-year-olds have shown a preference for running on, or very close to, the lead in their brief careers.

The more early speed, the better for the late-charging Persistently.

The seven-furlong Matron at Belmont Park will be the third start for Persistently, a Phipps Stable homebred. Persistently made her first two appearances at Saratoga, dropping far off the pace in both races.

In her debut on July 27, Persistently lagged 16 lengths behind the leaders before closing to get third.

She was also far back on Aug.o17, trailing in the nine-horse field before rallying for a 1 1/2-length win.

Two key factors helped her secure the victory: more distance on the stretch-out from six to seven furlongs and the experience gained in the first race.

"The extra distance helped, but I think the first race helped her too," said trainer Shug McGaughey. "Every time she runs, I think it will help her."

Persistently has come a long way since last winter in Florida.

"At Payson Park, she was a big, awkward filly," McGaughey said. "She had been at Saratoga all summer, so coming into her races, we thought she might be okay. Once we get her stretched out even longer, I think we'll have her laying a little closer. Now, she's not going to be on the lead."

Persistently had her final tune-up Monday, working five furlongs in 1:02.11 at Belmont.

"She seems to be doing fine," McGaughey said. "We're looking forward to running her."

If Persistently runs well in the Matron, McGaughey will point her to the Grade 1 Frizette here on Oct. 4.

Doremifasollatido is one of the fillies who figures in the early pace. After earning her maiden win against New York-breds here on July 4, Doremifasollatido stepped up to the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga, where she finished second to Mani Bhavan, who came back to win Saratoga's Grade 1 Spinaway.

Heavenly Vision was an impressive debut winner at Saratoga. Heavenly Vision and Miss Ocean City have similar profiles. Both won first time out at Saratoga, earning identical 81 Beyer Speed Figures.