Starstruck Back to Winning Ways in Matchmaker

Starstruck Back to Winning Ways in Matchmaker
Photo: Equi-Photo/Bill Denver
Starstruck wins the Matchmaker Stakes.

By Jerry Bossert

Wearing the black and gold colors of historic Calumet Farm, Kerwin Clark split horses aboard Starstruck to take the $170,000 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park July 27 (VIDEO).

It was the 5-year-old mare's first win since taking the 2013 Matchmaker, snapping a six-race losing streak for trainer Larry Jones.

Irish Mission finished 1 1/4 lengths behind in second, while the 9-5 favorite Watsdachances could only manage third, another 1 1/4 lengths back of the runner-up.

"Watching the way the turf course was playing, I wanted to stay close as possible without having to use my horse, and we accomplished that," Clark said. "I didn't know if I was going to get through or not turning for home, I was hoping it would split and it did. She ran on and ran well."

Racing in sixth in the field of 10 while saving ground throughout, Clark tipped the daughter of Galileo off the rail in the stretch looking for a seam to open. When it did inside the eighth pole, he gunned Starstruck through the gap between pacesetter Nashly's Vow and She's Not Lazy. They finished the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.35 over the firm turf course.

"There wasn't a whole lot of instructions, Kerwin's been on her in the morning and he knows what to do," Jones said. "I was just hoping something was going to open up for her, and it did. They told me when they sent her from Ireland that she didn't like soft going and until we got to Delaware the other day we didn't get firm going. Maybe she's just a Monmouth horse, this is two in a row for her in the Matchmaker."

Starstruck began her racing career in 2012 in Ireland for breeder Mrs. C.L. Weld and trainer Dermot Weld, winning one of seven races, the Christmas Party at Dundalk Handicap over the all-weather track at Dundalk on Oct. 26, 2012.

She came to Larry Jones' barn in 2013 and found a home on the grass immediately, winning her first start for Jones on May 1 of last year at Churchill Downs. The Matchmaker was a rebound for her from an eighth-place finish in the July 5 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes (gr. IIIT). Racing third, she clipped heels in that roughly run race at the eighth pole and dropped out of contention.

Starstruck returned $13, $6.60, and $4 after being sent off as the 5-1 third choice. Irish Mission returned $5 and $3.60, while Watsdachances returned $2.80. She's Not Lazy, Emotional Kitten, Primed for Passion, Medea, Nashly's Vow, Dido, and Lady Aspen completed the order of finish.

Starstruck is out of the Big Shuffle mare Agnetha, and now owns a record of four wins, two seconds and three thirds from 18 starts while upping her bankroll to $265,373 after collecting the $90,000 winner's share.

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