11/04/2006 12:00AM

Round Pond wins one for Matz

Round Pond, with Edgar Prado up, wins the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Michael Matz's world came full circle Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.

Five months ago, in the Preakness, Matz watched his Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro pull up with a life-threatening injury as the favorite in the Preakness while Bernardini galloped to a rousing 5 1/4-length victory. Saturday, in the $2,070,160 , the Matz-trained Round Pond galloped to a 4 1/4-length victory while the two favorites in the race suffered injuries.

In the case of Pine Island, the leading 3-year-old filly in the country and the 5-2 second choice, she suffered a dislocation of the fetlock joint in her left foreleg and had to be euthanized on the track. In the case of Fleet Indian, the leading older mare in the country and the slight 5-2 Distaff favorite, she suffered injuries to the suspensory ligament in her left front fetlock joint, but, according to Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, the injury is repairable.

Fleet Indian is expected to survive, much like Barbaro, who suffered a hind-leg fracture in the Preakness and who continues a successful fight for his life at the New Bolton Center at University of Pennsylvania in Kennett Square, Pa.

"Nobody wants to see a good horse get hurt or have a tragic loss like we did today," Matz said. "It's very heartbreaking to see that happen. It happens to us all. It was an unfortunate situation. I feel for Shug [McGaughey] and the Phipps' and everybody associated with [Pine Island]. I know what they're going through."

The eventful Distaff also included the disqualification of runner-up Asi Siempre for interference in the stretch. Asi Siempre, who came over on fourth-place finisher Balletto, was placed fourth by the stewards. Happy Ticket, who finished third, was moved to second while Balletto was moved up to third.

With 13 Grade 1 winners in the field, this was considered to be the deepest Distaff ever assembled. As a 3-year-old, Round Pond won the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont. But she suffered a knee bone chip that needed to be removed in late summer of her 3-year-old year.

After winning two races to begin her 4-year-old season, foot problems plagued Round Pond. Owner Rick Porter transferred her from John Servis to Matz, who worked on the filly's feet and finally got her to the races in the Molly Pitcher on Aug. 27 when she finished a close second.

Round Pond, who wore regular shoes in the Molly Pitcher, developed more foot issues and Matz missed some time with her leading up the Beldame, where she was beaten seven lengths by Fleet Indian. Matz, who had switched to glue-on shoes prior to the Beldame, left them on Round Pond and the filly didn't miss any training time leading up to this race.

Under Edgar Prado, Round Pond settled into a stalking position while Healthy Addiction carved out factions of 22.91 seconds, and 46.75 while being hounded by Sharp Lisa and Pool Land.

Prado bided his time, and waited for an opening along the inside and was able to come up the rail en route to the surprisingly easy victory.

"I got a beautiful trip," Prado said. "I was able to sit in behind the speed. She was a little anxious, especially on the turn, but settled in nicely and ran very hard to win."

Round Pond, a daughter of Awesome Again and Gift of Dance, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.50 and returned $29.80 to win.