We've visited Pimlico to look at Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Day on Friday and Preakness (G1) Day on Saturday, but of course, there's racing action going on in our backyard as well. After a one-year hiatus during which it was run at Churchill Downs, the Arlington Matron (G3) has returned to the Chicago area.
The race will be run for the eighty-first time this year. Now that it's back at Arlington, the Matron is once again the only nine-furlong polytrack stakes in North America for older fillies and mares. Several past and present local stakes namesakes have counted the Arlington Matron among their victories. Pucker Up (1957) has a turf stakes run in her name on Aington Million Day, Old Hat (1965) still lends her name to an early-season sophomore fillies' sprint stakes at Gulfstream, Sweetest Chant (1982) is the namesake of an early-season turf mile for three-year-old fillies at Gulfstream, and Hawthorne used to run a graded dirt route for older fillies and mares in the name of Sixty Sails (1974, 1975). Another notable recent winner is Illinois-bred Grade 1 winner and millionaire La Tia (2014).
A couple of relatively recent winners of the Arlington Matron have distinguished themselves in the breeding shed. Mariah's Storm (1995), once a stakes namesake at Arlington, emerged a blue hen producer after her racing career, most notably producing full siblings Giant's Causeway, Freud, and You'resothrilling. Giant's Causeway and Freud have gone on to be successful sires, and You'resothrilling went on to produce Group 1 winners Gleneagles, Happily, and Marvellous, and Grade 1 placed Coolmore and Taj Mahal (who achieved his top-level placing with a second-place finish in last year's Secretariat Stakes at Arlington). Take Charge Lady (2003) went on to produce champion Will Take Charge, Grade 1 winner and emerging sire Take Charge Indy, as well as Charming, dam of champion Take Charge Brandi.
Edited Saturday, May 19 in light of the scratch of APOLOGYNOTACCEPTED.
Race 7: Arlington Matron Stakes (G3), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one and one eighth miles on the polytrack, post time 4:44pm CST
A key scratch on race day, APOLOGYNOTACCEPTED, has changed this race significantly. It means Jose Valdivia is back on his old friend DADDY'S BOO, and it means the old grey mare has a lot less to contend with up front. MOONLIT GARDEN probably tries to send, but it's unlikely she'll be fast enough to really bother DADDY'S BOO. PRINCESS LA QUINTA sends sometimes, but Carlos Marquez only tends to send her if he's sure she can get the lead -- not likely, with DADDY'S BOO lining up. She will likely track and try to rally. In short, DADDY'S BOO will be a short price, but given the current complexion of the race, she looks hard to beat. She is fast, well-proven on the polytrack, and able to fire well off a lay.
PRINCESS LA QUINTA ran a big race first off the bench, overcoming a wide trip and some traffic to kick well clear in a second-level allowance optional claimer on opening day. The waters get deeper here; PRINCESS LA QUINTA beat off-turf locals in that last out, and here she steps into a graded stakes. But? The race she ran last out doesn't put her too far back from what she needs to contend with who she faces here, and she comes from a strong second-off-the-lay barn, that of James Gulick. On pace, though PRINCESS LA QUINTA won't likely take it to DADDY'S BOO early, she should be able to stalk in close range, and get the jump on the closers. Add to this a well proven affinity for the Arlington polytrack, and a pedigree that suggests she can handle the mile and an eighth? PRINCESS LA QUINTA offers a lot to like.
CON TE PARTIRO loses out given the scratch of APOLOGYNOTACCEPTED, but looking back to some races early in her career, there is some chance she can sit closer to the pace than she has been in recent times. It's hard to love her on top at a fairly short price, but she has the form and the class to get a piece here. The daughter of Scat Daddy does try polytrack for the first time, as she has spent most of her career on the grass, but if she translates her late kick on turf to polytrack then she will be finishing clearly best. Though she has not yet won at a mile and an eighth, her late rally for fourth in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) last year suggests she can run on well at the distance against the right company; on class, this seems like the right kind of spot for her. CON TE PARTIRO should also be in a good spot in her form cycle. She ran on late for third in an allowance at Keeneland last out and now makes her second start off a long winter lay for trainer Wesley Ward, who excels with second-off runners.
#7 DADDY'S BOO (3/1)
#6 PRINCESS LA QUINTA (10/1)
#4 CON TE PARTIRO (5/2)
Longshot: The light has come on with #8 MOONLIT GARDEN (15/1) this spring; though it took her twelve tries to break her maiden, she has a maiden win and an N1X win in her last two starts. Both of those came on dirt, and she tries an all-weather surface for the first time here. But, if she does take to the footing, her position should be an asset. Though she is not likely fast enough to take it to DADDY'S BOO early, Mitchell Murrill should be able to ride MOONLIT GARDEN aggressively enough to sit her close, and perhaps chase all the way around. A win may be a bridge too far, but hitting the board as one of the longest shots on the board would be no surprise.
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