DEL MAR, CA – Martin S. Schwartz’s Off Limits surged from worst to first, darting between foes along the way, to win Sunday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Matriarch Stakes.
Away from post 7 under Joel Rosario, Off Limits saved ground in last through most of the race while Miss Julia Star and Hawksmoor led through fractions of :23.40, :47.09, and 1:11.12. Finding a hole near the inside, Off Limits began charging forward, splitting opponents in midstretch, then rallied in deep stretch to catch the front of the pack. Off Limits hit the wire first by a length ahead of Hawksmoor to score her fourth straight win, the last three against graded stakes company, in a stakes-record final time of 1:34.37 for the mile-long turf event.
“Perfect trip; just what we wanted,” Rosario said. “She’s got that great turn of foot. That’s what makes her so special. And she wants to win. When she sees horses in front of her, she wants to go get them. I love it here (at Del Mar). I’ve got lots of good memories from my years here (steadily between 2008 and 2011). I won a lot of good races. It’s a place where I feel comfortable.”
Insta Erma made a push to get up for third, 3/4 of a length in front of the favored Cambodia, with Lull in fifth and Off Limits’ stablemate Rubilinda in sixth. Belvoir Bay, Kitten’s Roar, Pretty Girl, Thundering Sky, and Miss Julia Star completed the order of finish. Mrs McDougal was scratched.
Trained by Chad Brown, Off Limits now sports a record of 5-4-1-0 in 2017 after only hitting the board once in five starts last year. The 5-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman has a career line of 17-7-2-1 with career earnings of $634,680.
“I think it was the right place to be, coming from off the pace with this mare,” said Jose Hernandez, Brown’s assistant. “The other filly (Rubilinda), I liked very well, but maybe she didn’t handle the track as well. They’re both very nice horses.”
Off Limits returned $11.20 to win, $5.80 to place, and $4.80 to show. Hawksmoor brought back $11.80 to place and $9.20 to show, while Insta Erma paid $7.80 to show.