Updated on 09/15/2011 12:26PM

Saturday Stakes Recaps


Batique wires Matchmaker

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Batique, an 8-1 outsider, broke sharply to the early lead and wired an eight-horse field in Saturday's Grade 3 $100,000 Vinery Matchmaker on Saturday, covering the 1 1/8 miles on the Haskell turf course in a course-record 1:46.19 before a crowd of 12,394. Melody Queen made a late run for second, 2 1/2 lengths behind Batique. Gaviola, the 121-pound highweight and 4-5 favorite, finished seventh.

Batique, a 5-year-old mare trained by Laird George and ridden by Jose Ferrer, set the early pace while being tracked by Gaviola through hot fractions of 23.11 seconds, 46.37, and 1:09.19. Turning for home, Gaviola moved within a head of Batique, but the eventual winner kicked into another gear and opened up. Lucky Lune, the 3-1 second choice, finished third. Batique paid $19.80 to win and topped a $114.80 exacta over Melody Queen.

Batique, a daughter of Storm Cat making only her third start on the turf, earned $60,000 and future stallion services for owner Helen K. Groves. The Matchmaker, Monmouth's premier race for fillies and mares on the turf, awards the owners of the top three finishers stallion services. This year's stallions are Runaway Groom, Lord Carson, and Good and Tough.

"Jose didn't have a lot of choice but to go to the lead," Laird said. "It wasn't the plan, but that's the way it happens."

Batique, who carried 112 pounds, has two wins and a third in her last three races, all on the turf. She was third in her last start, an optional claiming allowance June 4 at Delaware Park. The Matchmaker was her second start off a seven-month layoff.

Gaviola previously had a win and a second in two Grade 3's this year. Last year, she won six consecutive races. "We carried a lot of weight. It took its toll on us," said her jockey Heberto Castillo Jr.

o Marq of Beauty ($9.60) went to the lead from post 1 under Chris DeCarlo and never looked back, fighting off a late challenge in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Diversa in the $50,000 Captive Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Marq of Beauty, trained by Todd Pletcher, ran the distance in 1:41.53.

o Sea of Tranquility and Thistyranthasclass battled from the backstretch to the wire, with Sea of Tranquility ($6.60) winning by a nose over the 3-5 favorite in the $50,000 Jersey Breeders' Handicap. Sea of Tranquility covered the mile in 1:36.76.

- Ryan Goldberg

Lone Star: El Gran Papa upsets

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Garrett Gomez teamed to win their second major stakes in less that a week on Saturday when El Gran Papa nipped Dignitas Dancer at the wire to win the $300,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park. Last Sunday at Hollywood Park, Frankel and Gomez teamed to win the $500,000 Californian Stakes with Skimming.

El Gran Papa ($12.80) raced near the back of the pack in the early stages of the Dallas Turf Cup, while Vergennes set the pace under pressure from Dignitas Dancer. At the top of the stretch, El Gran Papa swung outside of horses and closed with good energy to win by a neck. "Just as I swung him out they kept fanning us out all the way down the lane," said Gomez. "Finally, in about the last 80 yards he was able to see what he had to run at, and he hit another gear for me and did what he had to do."

El Gran Papa covered the 1 1/8 miles over firm turf in 1:49.30. Nat's Big Party was another three-quarters of a length back in third, while Del Mar Show, the even-money favorite, finished fourth. Frankel, who won the 1999 Dallas Turf Cup with Martiniquais, said El Gran Papa could start next in the Grade 3, $250,000 Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park on July 28.

- Mary Rampellini

Arlington: Trip takes Chicago BC

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Her two-race sojourn to the turf over, Trip returned to what she does best, race on dirt, and wore down the pacesetting Hidden Assets to win the $157,270 Chicago Breeders' Cup before a crowd of 7,942 on Saturday at Arlington.

Ridden by Craig Perret, who came in to ride the stakes, Trip raced in close attendance to a scorching pace set by Hidden Assets, who ran a half-mile in 43.96 seconds and six furlongs in 1:08.56. Trip collared Hidden Assets inside the last furlong and edged away in the late going.

Trip, owned by Claiborne Farm and trained by Frank Brothers, paid $9 to win as the third choice. Favored Rose of Zollern, a late-runner, had little chance to win on a speed-favoring and lightning-fast racing surface, and finished third. Trip was timed in 1:22.18 for seven furlongs.

Trip is by Lord at War, whose progeny often show superior ability on turf. With that in mind, Brothers switched the 4-year-old filly to grass after a blowout win on dirt in the Fairway Fun Stakes at Turfway Park in her seasonal debut. Trip won an allowance race at Keeneland, but finished seventh in the Mint Julep Stakes at Churchill in her last race.

But that two-turn turf try may have boosted Trip's stamina and enabled her to overtake the Bernie Flint-trained Hidden Assets, whose best distance may be less than seven furlongs.- Marcus Hersh

Calder: Soft course helps Queen of Oz

MIAMI - Trainer Luke Poulos prayed for rain and got what he wanted, a wet Calder turf course, that helped his Queen of Oz rally to a 1 1/2-length victory over 9-5 favorite Silver Bandana in Saturday's $50,000 Aspidistra Handicap.

Queen of Oz had never hit the board in four previous grass outings, but she relished the softer going, circling wide into the stretch after trailing the field for six furlongs and outfinished Silver Bandana. Silver Bandana steadied several times near the inside awaiting clearance around the turn and into the stretch before launching a belated bid once she shook free inside the eighth pole. Lady Brook, who drew off to a clear lead near midstretch, tired to be third.

"She loves the soft turf," said Poulos, who saddled the winner for the White Cross Stable. "In fact, I was going to scratch her if the race was to be run over a firm course. We waited, prayed for rain and got it. This is the best kind of turf horse to have around here. One who can run on a soft course or dirt."

Queen of Oz, whom Poulos claimed for $32,000 two years ago, paid $23.80 after covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.76 under jockey Manuel Aguilar.

- Mike Welsch

Woodbine: Expected Hour wins debut

Expected Hour, a first-time starter, lived up to trainer Mark Casse's expectations on Saturday when he won the $110,200 Victoria Stakes, the first 2-year-old stakes of the 2001 Woodbine meet.

A son of Valid Expectations, Expected Hour hugged the rail and stalked the pace set by heavily favored Spy Hill, awaited room at the top of the stretch, then darted to a clear lead inside the eighth pole.

Expected Hour, ridden by Patrick Husbands, won the five-furlong race by 2 1/4 lengths over the stretch-running Tepu Sultan. Spy Hill held on for third. The final time was 58.80 seconds.

"This is a very good horse," said Husbands. "He does everything professionally. We went into this race with a lot of confidence."

Expected Hour, who is owned by the partnership of Farish, Bolton, Gaylord, and Larson, paid $8 as second betting choice. The colt earned $66,120.

The co-featured Carotene Stakes, worth $107,000, was won by Augustin Stable's consistent Bristol Pistol, who used her patented stretch kick to win the one-mile turf event by 1 3/4 lengths over longshot Red Satin Slippers and Chicago shipper Great Fever.

Bristol Pistol, who was ridden by Na Somsanith, paid $6 as the 2-1 favorite and ran the distance on firm turf in 1:37.41. Bristol Pistol is trained by Mac Benson.

- Jennifer Morrison