Front-running favorite Tizaqueena, craftily ridden by E.T. Baird, drew away in the stretch and held sway for a two-length victory in the $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) May 29 at Arlington Park.
In her first start on a synthetic track, Darley Stable's Tizaqueena rebounded from an uncharacteristic fifth-place finish in the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs May 1. Michael Stidham trains the multiple stakes winner who captured Churchill's Distaff Turf Mile in 2009.
Baird probably won the 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares soon after the start. Leaving from post 10 in the 11-horse field with a short run to the first turn, Tizaqueena took advantage of a slow break to angle to the inside and nearly clear the field.
Taking control early, the 3-1 choice Tizaqueena set crawling fractions -- :25.44, :51.53 and 1:16.62 -- while showing the way throughout. Tizaqueena responded to urging on the final turn to leave Haka and Celtic Princess and took command. She reached the eighth pole 2 1/2 lengths clear and proved an easy winner under steady handling in 1:53.57 over the Polytrack.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing but I was happy to see it," Stidham said of the fractions. "It was a classy, tough field and when she turned for home after setting those kind of fractions, I had strong hopes for her. She really kicked it in and held them off nicely."
The stalking Floating Heart angled away from the inside in upper stretch, rallying four wide with Jesus Castanon aboard, edging defending Matron winner Euphony and Cliff Berry for second by a neck. Celtic Princess, who raced in tight quarters early in the race, finished fourth.
Tizaqueena won for the third time in four starts in 2010 after winning two stakes earlier in the year at Fair Grounds. Overall, the 5-year-old daughter of Tiznow --Issaqueena, by Mr. Prospector, has an 8-3-1 record in 15 starts. Now boasting stakes victories on dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces, she earned $84,600 for the Matron victory, pushing her career total to $630,118.
Stonerside Stable bred the winning dark bay or brown mare.
Tizaqueena carried co-high weight of 123 pounds and paid $8.20, $4.40 and $3.40, topping a $39.40 exacta. Second choice Floating Heart, bouncing back from a fifth-place showing in Keeneland's Bewitch Stakes (gr. III) for trainer Todd Pletcher, returned $4.40 and $3.20. Euphony was $4 to show.
Celtic Princess was followed by Askbut I won'ttell, Sweet and Flawless, Home's the Best, Haka, Magical Theater, Peach Brew and Souper Miss. Hark scratched.