04/16/2010 12:00AM

Wolfson will let Matchless Orinda cut loose


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Marty Wolfson said he took away Matchless Orinda's most potent weapon - her speed - when he attempted to stretch her out to a mile in the Grade 3 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream in February.

When Wolfson cuts Matchless Orinda back to seven furlongs in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff at Aqueduct, he plans to let jockey John Velazquez use the mare's speed against her four opponents. Though six were entered in the Distaff, Strut the Canary is expected to scratch to run in Saturday night's $250,000 Sugar Maple Stakes at Charles Town.

The Distaff will be Matchless Orinda's third start for Wolfson, the fourth trainer to have her in 13 career starts. In a Feb. 3 allowance at Gulfstream, Matchless Orinda chased a hot early pace before taking the lead after a half-mile in 45.63 seconds and drawing clear to a 7 1/2-length victory while running 6o1/2 furlongs in 1:15.14.

On Feb. 27, in the Sabin, Matchless Orinda raced on the lead, but was being rated by Velazquez through a half-mile in 48.21 seconds while allowing the rest of the field to remain in close contact. In the stretch, Matchless Orinda remained one-paced and finished 2 3/4 lengths behind Aurora Lights.

"I take the blame for that Sabin,'' Wolfson said. "I had Johnny slow her down a little bit on the lead. She could have opened up seven or eight; he had her relaxed and only one or two in front. She's so naturally fast.''

Wolfson said he has pointed Matchless Orinda to this race since the Sabin and said "the seven weeks really helped her.''

If Matchless Orinda is not on the lead, she could find herself stalking either Thunders Dove or Tar Heel Mom. Tar Heel Mom has two wins and a second in three starts over Aqueduct's main track.

Hour Glass looms the main stretch threat to Matchless Orinda. Though most of her success has come at six furlongs, Hour Glass was only beaten one-half length when fourth in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at seven-eighths on Feb. 15,

"It was a speed favoring track - they set two track records that day - she was making up ground but the horses weren't coming back to her,'' said Jonathan Thomas, the New York-assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.

Justwhistledixie, a multiple graded stakes winner, seeks a return to the form she displayed early in her 3-year-old season when she won the Bonnie Miss and Davona Dale, both Grade 2 stakes at Gulfstream.