Trainer Bobby Frankel continued his total dominance in the Matriarch with his fourth consecutive win in the race and record eighth triumph in the past 11 years. Frankel trains the 4-year-old filly Precious Kitten for owners and breeders Sarah and Kenneth Ramsey.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano in the one-mile test for fillies and mares, Precious Kitten was in command as the field reached the top of the lane. The favored Wait a While (6-5), with Garrett Gomez aboard, tried to make a race of it, getting to within a length of the winner mid-stretch but she was not getting past the daughter of Catienus this time. The winning time was an excellent 1:33.63, breaking the stakes mark set by Heat Haze (1:34.43) in 2003, the year the race was shortened to eight furlongs. The track mark of 1:32.64 belongs to Megan's Interco (1994).
The Matriarch win caps a huge year for Precious Kitten, who had four wins and four seconds in nine starts and earnings of $1,090,000. Her only off-the-board performance came on a yielding turf when she finished eighth in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) in her last start at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27.
Her victories this season include the $1 million CashCall Mile (gr. IIT) over the Hollywood turf, and the John C. Mabee (gr. IT) and Palomar (gr. IIT) handicaps over the Del Mar lawn.
"We got a different pace today then we did in the CashCall Mile," noted Humberto Ascanio, Frankel's assistant. "Today most of the field was at least two lengths behind our horse in second and I think that helped. We’ll be back for the winter meet at Santa Anita.”
Precious Kitten shot out of the gate for Bejarano but was soon taken in hand as determined outsider Live Life swept to the lead on the outside heading into the clubhouse turn. Live Life was on a lonely lead through so-so fractions of :23 3/5 and :47 1/5 down the backstretch as Precious Kitten tracked in second and Wait a While, Naissance Royale, and Lady of Venice stalked the first two. On the final turn, Naissance Royale went for an early run to challenge Live Life on the outside. Seeing that, Bejarano moved as well on Precious Kitten and he had a ton of horse as Kitten hit the lead at the quarter pole.
Wait a While, the champion 3-year filly of 2006 who was seeking her first Grade I win of the year, was in striking position through the lane but could not mount a challenge, settling for second by 1 1/4 lengths over Lady of Venice and Julien Leparoux. Live Life, Dance Away Capote, and Naissance Royale completed the order. All six runners carried 123 pounds.
"I knew that (Live Life) was going to be on the lead, but I didn't want to let her get an easy lead and slow the pace," Bejarano said. "When she passed me going to the first turn, I just let her go and put my filly close to her. When (Wait a While) came up to her (in the stretch), I had a lot of horse left."
Precious Kitten improved her career mark to 7-8-1 in 19 starts with earnings of $1,419,688. Sent off as the second choice, Precious Kitten paid $7.60, $3.20 and $2.40.
Wait a While, who was scratched out of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. I) by trainer Todd Pletcher due to the poor turf conditions, returned $2.80 and $2.10 in her first start since running third in Belmont Park's Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) on Sept. 29.
“She ran well like she always does and maybe it was just a little short for her," Pletcher said. "She’ll probably do a little better in a mile and an eighth. Precious Kitten kind of got the jump on us at the top of the stretch but she ran well. She’ll stay here we’ll look at Santa Anita for something for her.”
Stalking a slow pace, the late running Lady of Venice angled out for the stretch run but was never really involved in her first start for trainer Kiaran Mclaughlin. The French filly paid $2.80 to show.