Bob and Beverly Lewis' homebred Folklore became the early favorite for the Alberto VO5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) when she routed the field by 14 lengths in Saturday's $300,000 Matron (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
Belmont Park hosts the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Oct. 29.
The 2-year-old daughter of Tiznow
-Contrive (Storm Cat
) snatched the lead from favored India early in the seven-furlong event for 2-year-old fillies and left her six rivals way behind while recording a dominating win in 1:23 3/5. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas picked up his ninth victory in the Matron.
The consistent Folklore was coming off a second-place finish in the Spinaway (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 26, a race in which she may have been compromised by her rail post position, rallying late to finish second by a length behind Adieu. Folklore won the Saratoga's Adirondack (gr. II) on opening day.
Edgar Prado, ridding Folklore for the first time, kept the bay filly on the outside down the backstretch as India, who broke a step slowly from the rail and then was hustled to the lead by John Velazquez, led through a fast opening quarter mile of :21 4/5.
Halo Humor, fighting for the lead from the outset, edged in front after a :45 2/5 half-mile and India backed up quickly from there to eventually finish last. Folklore, however, was soon in control as they reached the turn, and she opened up a three-length advantage coming into the stretch, drawing off to lead by 10 with a furlong to go.
It was the third consecutive Matron victory for Prado.
"She was jumping out of her skin in the post parade," he said. "She was ready to run today. She broke running and when I took hold, she came back to me. After that, she leveled off. I think I hit her one time too many."
Miss Norman and Mike Luzzi edged Along the Sea, ridden by Javier Castellano, for second. Halo Humor, River's Prayer, Fifth Avenue, and India trailed.
Folklore, the Matron's most accomplished runner, now has three wins and three seconds from six career starts and earnings of $376,300.
India, breaking from the rail as the 7-5 favorite following her 12-length maiden score at Saratoga July 28, had nothing but trouble. She banged the gate before the race when misjudging the break and was backed out to be loaded again after Along the Sea broke through the barrier early. India broke a bit tardily, rushed to the front, and threw in the towel early.
"When the filly next to her broke through the gate, she wanted to go with her," said India's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "She came back bleeding and making a lot of noise. We'll have to regroup and see how she comes back. She is obviously much better than that."
Velazquez agreed. "India got all shook up there. I knew we should have scratched right then. She was all nervous, and she has never been like that. She ran a quarter of a mile and didn't put up a fight. She must have displaced or something because she was making all kinds of noises."
The second choice, Folklore paid $7, $3.70, and $3. Outsider Miss Norman, Greg Norman's filly who ran fourth in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) in her last start, returned $28.80 and $12.80 and capped a $211.50 exacta as a 53-1 shot. Along the Sea, who was third in the Spinaway, finished a head behind the runner-up and paid $5.60 to show.
Folklore could have another prep race before the Breeders' Cup, according to Lukas' assistant Peter Hutton.
"Wayne will talk things over with Mr. and Mrs. Lewis; they may decide to go straight to the Breeder's Cup or maybe get another race in between," he said.