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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Dorothy Matz’s homebred Tequilita sat the perfect early trip before pouncing late and taking home her first victory in over a year when she won Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 5 under Luis Saez at 5/2 odds, Tequilita soon had ample running room inside due to Tapa Tapa Tapa‘s sharp inward break from post 3 and used it to her advantage, setting up shop just off of that foe’s right hip through opening fractions of :23.26, :45.85, and 1:11.25. Continuing to sit in the catbird seat through the far turn, Saez kept Tequilita in the 2-path, which prevented the 8/5 favorite Electric Forest from tipping off the rail. Ranging up alongside the pacesetter as they straightened for home, Tequilita was put to a hard drive and soon took command inside the final furlong marker. Electric Forest finally swung out three-wide in mid-stretch, but she proved no match late for the Michael Matz trainee, who hit the wire first by 2 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:37.62 for the 8-furlong event over the sloppy (sealed) main track.
“She broke so sharp, she was in such a good spot, I just wanted to protect it,” Saez said. “I thought at the 3/8 pole I was done, but I kept asking her, and she gave me the kick. She just took off down the stretch. I know she likes the track this way, as she’s won easily on this surface before.”
Electric Forest dealt with trouble as soon as she broke from the rail, having taken a beating once Tapa Tapa Tapa broke inward and collided with her and a sandwiched Tweeting, then couldn’t get off of the inside soon enough to have a shot. The bettors’ choice ultimately took second by 3/4 of a length over Tapa Tapa Tapa, while the rest of the field was spread out far behind. Snirvana came in fourth ahead of Breaking Bread, while Tweeting and Inspeightofyou completed the order of finish.
Tequilita’s win was her first since taking the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks on September 23, 2017, and improved her overall record to 19-5-4-2. The 4-year-old daughter of Union Rags, who is booked to mate with the 2007 Kentucky Derby champion Street Sense next spring, has bankrolled $666,100 in her career.
“She’s better if she lays a little bit off the pace and then just keeps running at them,” Michael Matz said. “Sometimes, if she gets a lead, she’ll just kind of wait a little bit. (Saez) has ridden her a bunch of times and he’s done really well with her. We’re going to breed her this spring and my wife (owner Dorothy Matz) said let’s finish up in Florida here, and thank God we ended up on a good note, because there was a little bit of a lull there for a while. I think it was basically my fault. After her 3-year-old season, she acts and she trains like she could stretch out, but she just wants one turn. I think there’s another race down here for her. This is her best distance, a one-turn mile. If it is her last race, then she went out on a winning note.”
Tequilita returned $7.60 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.40 to show. Electric Forest brought back $3 to place and $2.40 to show, while Tapa Tapa Tapa paid $2.80 to show.
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