Sweet Whiskey tops field for G2 Matron
By Jenny Kellner | 09/27/2013 06:12 PM ET
Todd Pletcher will try for a second straight training victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Matron on Sunday at Belmont Park when he sends 2-1 morning-line favorite Sweet Whiskey out to face a half-dozen promising 2-year-old fillies in the six-furlong race.
Owned by Alto Racing, Sweet Whiskey is looking to atone for her fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Spinaway on September 1 at Saratoga Race Course. Sent off as the favorite following her impressive maiden win three weeks earlier, the Old Fashioned filly never appeared comfortable over the sloppy track and was beaten 16 lengths.
"Johnny [Velazquez] seemed to think she didn't handle the sloppy track very well," said Pletcher, who won last year's Matron with Kauai Katie and also took the 2002 edition with Marylebone. "Not only had he ridden her in her maiden win, he'd also breezed her a few times, and he didn't feel like she handled it like she does a fast track. I don't think it mattered that it was seven furlongs that day; I think it was more about the track."
Velazquez returns aboard Sweet Whiskey, who will leave from post position 3.
The second and third choices in the Matron are a pair of Pennsylvania-breds who will be meeting for the second time. In their debuts on July 22 at Parx Racing, Miss Behaviour stunned even-money Gracer by going wire-to-wire for a 2 ½-length win over the favorite. Both returned to win their next starts, with Miss Behaviour taking the Sorority at Monmouth Park by 8 ¼ lengths and Gracer rebounding with an impressive front-running maiden score on August 25 at Saratoga, again as the favorite.
"She's just a lovely, classy filly," said trainer Phil Schoenthal of Miss Behaviour. "She had come to us early in the year and pulled a muscle behind. We gave her a couple of months off, and by her final workout before her first race we felt we had a nice horse. There was a lot of buzz about Gracer, and we went off at 13-1, but I was confident in her."
Bred by owners Cal MacWilliam and Neil Teitelbaum, Miss Behaviour will carry 121 pounds and jockey Garry Cruise in the Matron as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
"What are the chances two horses like that would show up in the same race at Parx?" asked Tony Dutrow, who trains Gracer for Team D Stable. "I knew my filly was promising, and being a Pennsylvania-bred, I wanted to take advantage of the purse structure and start her off there, thinking it was a pretty easy deal.
"I had her about 75 or 80 percent for the race, which I thought was good enough to win it," he added. "No excuses; the other filly was really, really good. I felt good about taking her up to Saratoga next, and she was very professional and very impressive. I have to say I'm excited about her going forward."
With Joe Rocco, Jr. returning in the irons, Gracer, 3-1, will leave from post position 7.
Rounding out the field are Art of the Game, who was eighth in the Spinaway, and three last-out maiden winners at Saratoga: Court Dancer, who won by 7 ¾ lengths on August 21, Miss Narcissist, who won at second asking on August 28, and Ocean Boulevard, who won third time out on August 26.
The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Matron: