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OCEANPORT, NJ – In a race that was deep in stakes experience, Great Island got her first graded stakes win with a last-to-first performance in the 1 1/8-mile Matchmaker Stakes (G3) on the turf at Monmouth Park.
The field of six included graded stakes winners Juliet Foxtrot, Always Shopping, and Nay Lady Nay, who was returning to try for a second consecutive Matchmaker win.
At the start, it was No Mercy Percy who got out to a quick lead. She ran the first 1/4-mile in :25.07, maintaining a 2-1/2 length lead over Juliet Foxtrot with another length back to Nay Lady Nay. At the 1/2-mile mark, jockey Paco Lopez sent Nay Lady Nay past Juliet Foxtrot, the two mares bumping in the process. Great Island with Joel Rosario hung back in last, content to wait for the stretch to make their bid.
On the final turn, Juliet Foxtrot, No Mercy Percy, Nay Lady Nay, and Kalifornia Queen went four across, with Tyler Gaffalione on Juliet Foxtrot coming out of the turn fastest. In the stretch, Juliet Foxtrot surged out to a 2 1/2-length lead, but both Kalifornia Queen and Great Island surged past her in the race’s final strides, with Great Island coming out on top by a 1/2-length.
Kalifornia Queen, Juliet Foxtrot, Nay Lady Nay, Always Shopping, and No Mercy Percy rounded out the order of finish. The final time for the 1-1/8 mile Matchmaker Stakes was 1:48.89.
Great Island paid $10.80, $4.80, and $3.00. Kalifornia Queen paid $5.80 and $3.40. Juliet Foxtrot paid $2.10 to show.
Assistant trainer Luis Cabrerra knew Great Island would do well at Monmouth. “We had a feeling she would like this track. She was at Belmont training but we always thought she would fit well on this turf course. This is probably the best race of her career. The way she closed was impressive. The way she ran today I think a mile and an eighth is her best distance. Top of the stretch I was not sure she would get there. But Joel Rosario said after the race he had a lot of horse. They were going fast so he thought they would come back to her. Chad told Joel that wherever she breaks, wherever she is comfortable, that’s where she should be. However, she wants to go that’s where we wanted her to be but I am not sure we thought that would be last early on.”
Rosario was excited to get the win on Great Island. “It was my first time riding her and she gave me a really good run. I am very impressed with her. They looked like they were going a decent pace (up front) and she seemed happy where she was and I just rode her from there. I asked her some leaving the gate, then going into the first turn, right away I found myself with horses in front of me and I couldn’t go outside so I had to be easy with her. She’s a nice horse and they make it easy when they’re this kind.”
Trained by Chad Brown, Great Island is a daughter of Scat Daddy out of the Rahy mare Voyage. She was bred in Kentucky by Ben P. Walden, Jr. and Larry Taylor and is owned by Alpha Delta Stables, LLC. She was consigned by Woods Edge Farm at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and sold to Steven Young for $300,000. Her win in the Matchmaker is her second win in 3 starts in 2021, for a lifetime record of 4 wins in 7 starts with career earnings of $275,604.
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