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The Racing Dudes react to Matareya winning the 2022 Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park after the morning line favorite Echo Zulu was a late scratch at the gate. JOIN the replay watch-along to get the Racing Dudes’ INSTANT reactions, then give YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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The track press release:
Godolphin homebred Matareya broke alertly and never looked back, posting a 6 1/4-length score in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Acorn, a one-turn mile for sophomore fillies to kick off the stakes action on Belmont Stakes Day.
The Acorn was the first of eight Grade 1 events on a loaded card that will culminate with the 154th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
Trained by Brad Cox and piloted by Flavien Prat, Matareya left the gate as the 1-5 mutuel favorite after Echo Zulu, the reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, was scratched on the advice of the track veterinarian.
“The filly was lame in her left front,” said Anthony Verderosa, NYRA’s Director of Veterinarians.
Matareya surged to the front from the outermost post 4 and marked off splits of 23.39 seconds and 46.40 over the fast main track as Divine Huntress tracked in second position.
The Pioneerof the Nile bay maintained her lead through the turn as Divine Huntress came under a ride from Luis Saez and Dream Lith launched her wide bid under Ramon Vazquez. Matareya opened up by 5 1/2-lengths at the stretch call and was never challenged to the wire, stopping the clock in 1:35.77
Divine Huntress completed the exacta by 5 1/2-lengths over Dream Lith, with Inventing rounding out the order of finish.
The victory marked the second Acorn win for Cox following multiple Champion Monomoy Girl’s score in 2018.
“Now she’s a Grade 1 winner and this filly deserves it,” Cox said. “It’s great to win a Grade 1 on Belmont Day and in New York. It’s always great to win a Grade 1 anywhere.”
Prat said the scratch of Echo Zulu didn’t affect his game plan.
“I was pretty much going to ride her the same with or without the scratch,” Prat said. “She broke super, super sharp and got me right to the lead and she was cruising all the way around.”
Saez said he was proud of the effort from Divine Huntress.
“I had a good trip and my filly broke well. Of course the winner was much better, but we tried to beat her. We finished and that’s pretty good. It was great,” Saez said.
After notching one win from four starts in her juvenile campaign, Matareya has flourished as a sophomore, posting an allowance win in February at Fair Grounds ahead of an 8 1/2-length romp in the Grade 3 Beaumont traveling seven furlongs at Keeneland. She entered the Acorn from a 2 1/4-length score in the seven-furlong Grade 2 Eight Belles on the Kentucky Oaks undercard on May 6 at Churchill Downs.
“It was unfortunate what happened right before the race with the scratch, and a little unusual, but Matareya handled it all and ran her race. She ran great and we’re really proud of her,” Cox said. “I was a little concerned running her back in this spot so soon after the Eight Belles, but she was doing so great we decided to come here and she rose to the occasion.”
Michael Banahan, Godolphin’s director of bloodstock, said Matareya will likely target the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies, on August 6 at Saratoga Race Course.
“It’s very unfortunate with the scratch of Echo Zulu, but all you can do is get in the starting gate and do the best you can,” Banahan said. “She was overpowering with the group that was in there. We didn’t expect her to do anything less than that. I would imagine we would love to see her up at Saratoga for the Test, that would probably be our goal if everything goes well and she comes out good. That’ll be the plan of attack.”
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, Matareya, out of the graded-stakes winning Bernardini mare Innovative Idea, banked $275,000 in victory while improving her record to 8-5-2-0. She returned $2.60 for a $2 win wager.
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