07/31/2009 12:00AM

Rutherienne decision the key to Matchmaker

Bill Denver/Equiphotos
American Border, winner of the Miss Liberty on July 3, figures to get support at the betting windows in Sunday's Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Rutherienne figures to be a very solid favorite if she runs Sunday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The Matchmaker is one of the leading events on a Haskell Day card that includes a pair of guaranteed pools with 15 percent takeouts. There is a $50,000 guarantee for the 50-cent pick five on races 5-9. The pick four, starting with race 10, the Matchmaker, and concluding with the Haskell, carries a $250,000 guarantee.

Weather could be a determining factor in whether trainer Christophe Clement runs Rutherienne, winner of the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine, in the Grade 1 Diana on Saturday at Saratoga or in the Matchmaker. It has been a rainy week in Saratoga and on the Jersey Shore, with more showers in the weekend forecasts for both locales.

If Rutherienne remains in Saratoga, the Matchmaker becomes a wide-open contest.

Closeout could inherit the favorite's role, following her three-length win in the Grade 3 Locust Grove Handicap at Churchill Downs on a yielding course.

Robby Albarado will be aboard for trainer Tom Proctor.

American Border figures to garner support following her win here in the Miss Liberty, the Matchmaker prep on July 3. Claimed for $30,000 here last summer, American Border has won six times since then, including the Grade 3 Violet Stakes at the Meadowlands.

The key to success, trainer Jason Servis has learned, is giving American Border lots of time between races.

"She is so much better if I can space her," Servis said. "I would love to run her every two and a half months. She doesn't do well when they're close together."

The gap will be almost a month since the Miss Liberty, plenty of time for American Border to regroup.

Leading rider Elvis Trujillo retains the mount.

Captain's Lover, a rallying third in the Miss Liberty, is winless in two U.S. starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. The South African-bred 5-year-old owns a Group 1 win in her native land and a Group 3 victory in France.

John Velazquez will ride.

Completing the field are Princess Haya, Meadow Saffron, Them There Eyes, Social Queen, and Ariege.

Taylor Made Stallion Inc. will award a stallion season to the first three finishers of the Matchmaker.

Majestic Light: Chirac brings streak

The $100,000 Majestic Light is a prep for the Grade 3 Iselin Stakes on Aug. 22. That could be the next stop for Chirac, if he passes this 1 1/16-mile test.

The 4-year-old gelding is unbeaten in three starts at the meet. His latest win, a fourth-level allowance race, generated a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

Chirac has been handled conservatively by trainer Jane Cibelli. She resisted the temptation to jump the horse into the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on July 4 following his victory in the Skip Away Stakes on June 13.

"He doing well and he's training very well," Cibelli said. "What makes me nervous is that we've run him a lot and he's been in tough spots."

Chirac is 4-0-2 in 7 starts at Monmouth.

Elvis Trujillo, aboard for the three-race winning streak, has the return call on the versatile horse.

"He can sit off the lead, he can be on the pace," Cibelli said. "He's not one-dimensional."

Actin Zippy returns to the scene of his victory in the Decathlon Stakes on the opening weekend.

Trained by William Bennett, Acting Zippy is a Mid-Atlantic warrior. He has run in four stakes in the region since the Decathlon, winning the Changing Times at Penn National and the Carpenter Memorial at Delaware Park.

* Despite the Odds makes his turf debut in the $100,000 Jersey Derby for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles. The off-the-turf winner of the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park, Despite the Odds most recently ran second to Atomic Rain in the Long Branch Stakes, the traditional prep for the Haskell.

Despite the Odds is 3 for 5 and is trained by Michael Trombetta.

Trainer Christophe Clement has two shots in the Jersey Derby: Laureate Conductor, winner of the Choice Stakes here, and Endymion, third in the slop in the Coronado's Quest.

* Distorted Passion faced Grade 2 fillies and mares at Aqueduct in her last two starts: the Distaff and the Bed O' Roses. The consistent 4-year-old, off since April 18, will look to extend her stretch of in-the-money finishes to seven in the $100,000 Regret at six furlongs.

Sunday Geisha also escapes Grade 2 company in New York, having run fifth in the First Flight Handicap at Belmont on June 28.

* Fleet Valid, a dominant winner of two races since a $14,000 claim by trainer Scott Volk at Aqueduct in April, faces a serious test in the $100,000 Teddy Drone at six furlongs. He will face veteran stakes sprinters like Who's the Cowboy and Man of Danger.

* Trainer Larry Jones is always tough when he ships to Monmouth from his base at Delaware Park. Jones, 4-0-2 from 8 starters at the meet, brings Tammy's Victress for the $100,000 Lady's Secret for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. She most recently took a third-level allowance race in the slop at Delaware.


In several recent articles that referenced TVG's coverage of the Haskell Invitational on Sunday at Monmouth Park, the availability of the TVG telecast was not included. TVG officials report that through the channel's regular carriers and simulcast arrangements with regional networks the Haskell telecast will be available in more than 70 million of the country's approximate 115 million households that have televisions.