European Shippers Light Up the Board in Del Mar Oaks

European Shippers Light Up the Board in Del Mar Oaks
Photo: Associated Press/ Benoit
No Matter What, center in white silks, is flanked by Velvet Morning, left, and Queenie Belle, right, at the top of the stretch before winning Sunday's Del Mar Oaks.
Augustin Stable's No Matter What split horses to surge to the lead and then held off Theoretically in deep stretch as horses making their North American racing debuts filled the top three finishing positions in the $250,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Sunday at Del Mar. Theoretically finished a half-length behind in second, followed by Premiere Creation in third.

Four of the nine 3-year-old fillies entered made their most recent starts in Europe and each of these four raced on Lasix for the first time Sunday. Betting favorite Uncharted Haven finished fourth, a head in front of the remaining European invader La Gandilie. Queenie Belle, Mary Kies, Velvet Morning, and Kumari Continent completed the order of finish.

The win, coupled with Skimming's triumph in Saturday's Pacific Classic (gr. I), completes a sweep of this weekend's grade I races at Del Mar by horses sired by Nureyev. No Matter What is by Nureyev and out of Words of War, by Lord At War. Skimming is by the same sire and out of the Lyphard mare Skimble.

With Victor Espinoza in the irons, the winner completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.02. Sent off at over 16-1, No Matter What paid $34.80, $16.20, and $8.20. The $1 exacta completed by 15-1 Theoretically returned $195.20. The $1 trifecta comprised of European shippers paid $926.30.

Over a fast turf course, Queenie Belle set a slow early pace (:25.27 for the quarter-mile) with Velvet Morning second, and Kumari Continent third. No Matter What saved ground on the rail in fourth, with Theoretically trailing the field along the rail. Queenie Belle continued on the lead through a half-mile in :49.82 and six furlongs in 1:14.21. As the field raced into the stretch, No Matter What came off the rail, raced through a narrow gap between horses to gain the lead, and held off the closers to seal the win.

No Matter What was bred in Kentucky by Arthur B. Hancock III and Stonerside Ltd. The Neil Drysdale trainee was conditioned by Jonathan Pease when she raced in Europe, where she won the listed Prix de Lilas. She earned $150,000 for the Oaks win, her third in seven career starts. (Chart, Equibase)

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