07/27/2014 3:47PM

Starstruck repeats in Matchmaker

Michael Amoruso
Starstruck snaps a six-race losing streak, which started after her victory in last year's Matchmaker.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Starstruck split rivals in deep stretch to defend her title in the $170,000 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

The victory ended a long, frustrating stretch for the Irish-bred Starstruck. The win snapped a six-race losing streak dating back to last year’s Matchmaker.

During the slump, Starstruck caught a string of good or yielding courses, which she despises.

A 5-year-old trained by Larry Jones, Starstruck finally found a firm course for the R. G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park, only to clip heels in the stretch and barely avoid a tumble to the turf.

Her luck finally turned Sunday back at Monmouth, where the course was firm despite light morning showers and the trip was clean.

Starstruck broke sharply and then was eased back off the pace by Kerwin Clark. At the top of the stretch, Starstruck was buried behind a wall of horses.

Suddenly there was daylight, and Starstruck quickened through an opening for a 1 1/4-length win over Irish Mission.

“I’ve been watching the races all day and speed has been holding on the turf course,” Clark said. “I wanted to stay as close as possible without using my horse. We accomplished that, but I didn’t know if I was going to get through turning for home.”

The time was 1:46.35 for the 1 1/8 miles. Starstruck paid $13 to win.

Watsdachances, the 19-10 favorite, was third followed by She’s Not Lazy, Emotional Kitten, Primed for Passion, Medea, Nashly’s Vow, Dido, and Lady Aspen.

In addition to the $90,000 share of the purse, winning owner Calumet Farm gets its pick of a stallion season to WinStar’s Paynter, Artie Schiller or Drosselmeyer.