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Royal Approval Holds Sway in Matron
Credit: NYRA

Royal Approval Holds Sway in Matron

ELMONT, NY – Three Chimneys Farm homebred Royal Approval fought her way to the lead in mid-stretch and held sway to win Sunday’s $100,000 Matron Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.

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Royal Approval was the heavy 1/2 favorite as she broke alertly from post 7 under Irad Ortiz Jr. and briefly went to the lead under her own power before ceding control to Union Gables.

After closely chasing the leader two-wide through opening fractions of :22.53 and :46.28, Royal Approval ranged up and made her bid at the top of the stretch.

Union Gables refused to go down without a fight and made Royal Approval work for it, but the Wesley Ward trainee eventually pulled ahead in mid-stretch before crossing 3/4 of a length clear.

Royal Approval completed the 6-furlong firm inner turf sprint in 1:09.10.

Credit: NYRA / Chelsea Durand

“I rode her like the best horse in the race,” said Ortiz Jr. “With this one, I got the perfect trip. She broke well, she put me right there, and when I asked her to go, she was there.”

Union Gables saved second by 3/4 of a length over Magisterium, while Amalfi PrincessFabricate, and Rossa Veloce completed the order of finish.

Niente took a bad step in deep stretch and was pulled up before getting vanned off the course.

Bravo Regina was scratched from the race restricted to 2-year-old fillies.

Royal Approval’s win was her second straight following her maiden-breaking score by 6 1/4 lengths at Kentucky Downs (her first time running without blinkers) and improved her career record to 4-2-1-0 with $117,400 earned. The Tiznow filly finished second on debut at Gulfstream Park before finishing 17th in the Queen Mary Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot behind her stablemate Campanelle.

“When I took the blinkers off her last time, she ran very well, and if you analyze the race at Kentucky Downs, it almost looked like you had to get worried, then the rider went to the stick and she opened up,” Ward said. “Irad said that he was just riding, and she was just kind of right there, but when he hit her, she took off. I think this filly may stretch out.”

Ward indicated that she will point to the Breeders’ Cup for either the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) or the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).

“Just after talking to Irad, the mile (distance of the Juvenile Fillies Turf) might be the better option for her, but again, we’ll sit down and see how she is,” Ward said. “As we get a little closer, we’ll have to really watch the weather, as this filly doesn’t handle the soft turf. At Keeneland in the fall, sometimes you’ll get that.”

Royal Approval returned $3.10 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show. Union Gables brought back $6.40 to place and $3.20 to show, while Magisterium paid $2.80 to show.

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