Favored Sensation, ridden by Eibar Coa, broke open a close race coming off the turn and drew away to an easy victory over an inexperienced group of juvenile fillies Sunday in the $108,400-added Astarita (gr. III) at Belmont Park.
A distant fourth in her last start, Saratoga's Spinaway (gr. II) Aug. 26, the daughter of Dixie Union
-Ryn (by Mr. Prospector) was one of only two fillies in the six-horse field who had beaten winners. In taking her first added-money event, Sensation, a $475,000 Keeneland yearling buy last year, has won three of four starts for trainer Stanley Hough and owners Castletop Stable and Cobra Farm. Sensation started her career with an 11-length win in the mud at Belmont July 13 and defeated a first-level allowance field by 4 1/2 lengths at Saratoga in her next start. She has been ridden by Coa in all of her races.
"I thought she ran great today," Hough said. "She was switching her leads a little bit down the lane. She's prone to do that but, as long as she's with other horses, she's fine.
"In the Spinaway, it was her third race in a row. We were debating whether to run there or in the Matron. She was doing good and she had won over the track, so we thought it was the thing to do."
Hough said he may want to stretch out Sensation for her next start but gave no indication which race that might be.
"I really have a lot of confidence in this filly," Coa said. "Even the last time I rode her (in the Spinaway), I thought she was the best horse. I just wanted to be close; I didn't want to be stuck behind horses."
Sensation won by 5 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:16 4/5 for the 6 1/2-furlong event. Swap Fliparoo, ridden by Andrew Lakeman, gained the place spot over Unobstructed View, the narrow second choice whose chances were compromised by a slow break for jockey John Velazquez.
Saoirse Cat led on a strongly contested early pace of :22 and :45 1/5 as Sensation raced three wide on the outside down the backstretch. The field bunched to within a couple of lengths on the turn as Unobstructed View was hurried to challenge on the extreme outside. But coming off the bend, Sensation edged away and took control. She led by about three lengths with a furlong left and cruised home under Coa.
Hermitage Farm LLC bred the winner in Kentucky.
She paid $6, $3.60, and $2.60. Swap Fliparoo returned $8.80 and $3.80 and completed a healthy $53 exacta. Unobstructed View was $2.80 to show. Saoirse Cat, Fast Deal, and Sleeping trailed.