05/17/2014 4:05PM

Somali Lemonade takes Gallorette Handicap

Tom Keyser
Somali Lemonade and jockey Luis Saez win the Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap on Saturday.

BALTIMORE ─ Trainer Michael Matz gave serious consideration to retiring Somali Lemonade at the end of her 4-year-old campaign. The filly was a graded stakes winner, was Grade 1-placed but had tailed off last fall.

Cina Forgason, the owner and breeder of Somali Lemonade ─ and Matz’s sister-in-law ─ had just the one horse in her stable and wanted to give it another try.

“Is there any reason we have to retire her?” Matz recalls Forgason saying. “ ‘I only got the horse in my stable, and I kind of like it.’ I couldn’t blame her.”

It certainly has turned out to be the right move. After running second in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream in January, Somali Lemonade has now won two straight races, including a half-length, front-running score over Watsdachances in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Gallorette Handicap at Pimlico.

It was the fifth win from 20 career starts for Somali Lemonade, a 5-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid who has now pushed her career earnings to $573,421.

A closer or stalker early in her career, Somali Lemonade has won her last two starts in front-running fashion under Luis Saez.

“I said to him last time at Keeneland, ‘She’s 5 years old; now you’ve changed her running style?’ ” Matz said. “Can I argue with what happened?”

Breaking from post 3, Saez shot Somali Lemonade straight to the lead but was confronted by longshot Daydreamin Gracie, who pressed Somali Lemonade through a quarter-mile in 23.46 seconds and a half-mile in 47.60. The two were eight lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

Around the far turn, Somali Lemonade disposed of Daydreamin Gracie and opened up a clear advantage. In the stretch, Somali Lemonade had a five-length lead but began to drift.

Watsdachances, under Javier Castellano, came running in the stretch. Saez smacked Somali Lemonade a couple times with the whip, and she was able to hold off Watsdachances. It was 7 1/4 lengths farther back to Triple Arch. Daydreamin Gracie, Starstruck, Embarr, and Lady Ten completed the order of finish.

Somali Lemonade covered the 1 1/16 miles over good turf in 1:44.16 and returned $4.80 as the favorite.

“I don’t want to fight with her; that’s why I let her run that way,” Saez said. “Sometimes when I try to fix the problem, she tries to stop a little bit. When I feel Javier coming, I had to hit her, and she responded.”

Matz said he would consider the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont in three weeks or could wait for the Dr. James Penney Memorial at Parx, a race typically run in July and a race Somali Lemonade won last year.