Somali Lemonade
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Somali Lemonade
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Coglianese Photos/Adam Mooshian

Matz Says He Nearly Retired Somali Lemonade

Diane winner well-beaten in four straight races in 2013 before turning form around.

After a string of four off-the-board performances in stakes races last year, trainer Michael Matz strongly considered retiring his graded stakes-winning turf mare Somali Lemonade.

He reflected on it the morning after the 5-year-old Lemon Drop Kid  mare reached the apex of her career, winning the $500,000 TVG Diana Stakes (gr. IT) as an 11-1 outsider July 19 at Saratoga Race Course.

"We were going to retire her because she ran four racesthey were all in stakesbut she was beaten four lengths and 3 1/2, and she looked like she wasn't trying anymore. I said the only thing I can do differently is put a set of blinkers on, and we can try and see how she does," said Matz.

Owner Caroline Forgason asked if he would continue on with Somali Lemonade because it is the only horse she owns. With no soundness issues, Matz agreed and put the blinkers on for the Marshua's River (gr. IIIT) Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park. After poking her head in front in the lane, Somali Lemonade finished a close second.

Encouraged, Matz told the owner, "OK, if we're going to do this, let's turn her out and give her a rest.' So, we gave her 45 days in the paddock. We sent her to Randy Bradshaw (who operates a breaking and training center) in Ocala, and he sent her back and she looked terrific."

Somali Lemonade kept her blinkers on for her return in an allowance April 13 at Keeneland, which she won by 1 1/4 lengths. She then scored powerfully in a front-running effort in the Gallorette (gr. IIIT) on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course. In her lead-in to the Diana, she led to deep stretch before finishing third in the one-mile Longines Just a Game (gr. IT) at Belmont.

Stretching out to nine furlongs for the Diana, Matz told jockey Luis Saez to do what he wanted but avoid a speed duel. Somali Lemonade broke on top, but an eager Discreet Marq and rank Tannery went right with her.

"When she broke, I thought she was going to have the easy lead by herself, and then all of the sudden, everybody came up after her and he (Saez) said, 'OK, take it,' and it ended up the right decision," said Matz.

Matz said Somali Lemonade will return to her base at Fair Hill July 21 and be freshened up.

"There's a possibility she could come back in the Ballston Spa (gr. IIT on Aug. 23), but I'm going to run another filly, Assateague, who's down at Parx, so they're going to have to fight it out. I don't want to run both of them together."