Tessa Blue may be favored in an evenly matched Arlington Matron.

Tessa Blue may be favored in an evenly matched Arlington Matron.

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Arlington Matron Up For Grabs

Eight older fillies and mares will do battle May 26 on Polytrack

Eight evenly-matched older fillies and mares seek their first graded stakes victory of the season, as they face off in the $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. III) on Memorial Day.

The nine-furlong test on Arlington Park’s Polytrack was won by Solo Survivor last year.

Among those with a chance at a good showing is Courtlandt Farm’s Indescribable, a 4-year-old Pleasant Tap filly who has shown her best form in the past six months. Trained by Graham Motion, Indescribable needed seven tries to break her maiden, but since getting that monkey off her back, has been a tough customer.

Bred in Kentucky, the chestnut filly has been best on synthetic surfaces. She broke her maiden on the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs in September, came back a month later to win in allowance company on the Keeneland Polytrack, and then won her third straight on the turf at Hollywood Park in December.

Though finishing off the board in her stakes debut Jan. 13 in the El Encino Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita, Indescribable came back with a strong third-place effort in the 1 1/16-mile Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) April 18 at Keeneland, where she was less than two lengths off the winner. Jeremy Rose will ride for the first time.

Illinois-bred Stop a Train was runner-up in the 2006 edition of the Matron, losing to Sea Siren by four lengths. The oldest rival in the field, 6-year-old daughter of Devil His Due enters the Matron off consecutive wins at Hawthorne – an allowance optional claiming score March 31 on the slop, then taking the restricted Peach of It Handicap after stalking the pace April 26. Christopher Emigh will ride for trainer Christine Janks.

WinStar Farm will be represented by a pair of contenders who will be coupled – Leah’s Secret and Ballado’s Thunder. A 5-year-old daughter of Tiger Ridge, Leah’s Secret is coming off a runner-up effort in the Louisville Stakes (gr. II) May 2 at Churchill Downs. Bred in Florida and trained by Todd Pletcher, she has not hit the winner’s circle since November 2006.

Ballado’s Thunder was eighth, but beaten only three lengths, in the Reluctant Guest Stakes on the Arlington turf May 17. Prior to that, the Saint Ballado mare won in allowance company April 13 on the Keeneland grass. The 5-year-old Bill Mott trainee has hit the board only once in four graded stakes efforts.

Pletcher will also saddle Alex G. Campbell Jr.’s homebred filly Awesome Ashley. Briefly under consideration for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in 2006, Awesome Ashley has raced mostly in allowance competition during her career, which has produced a 3-2-0 record from 10 starts. The 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song enters off a 1 3/4-length allowance score April 19 on the Keeneland Polytrack.

Bruce Lunsford’s Tessa Blue could be favored in the Matron. The 4-year-old Awesome Again  filly has been second in consecutive graded stakes – the March 9 Rampart Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream and the April 19 Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne. The Frank Brothers trainee won the Indiana Oaks (gr. III) last October.

$150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 4:37 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Polytrack)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Leah's Secret (FL), 117, Rene R. Douglas
2. Lady Carlock (KY), 112, Timothy Thornton
3. Awesome Ashley (KY), 114, Jesse M. Campbell
4. Stop a Train (IL), 113, Christopher A. Emigh
5. Ballado's Thunder (KY) , 116, Rene R. Douglas
6. Indescribable (KY), 113, Jeremy Rose
7. Angel Smoke (KY), 113, Jose A. Velez, Jr.
8. Tessa Blue (MD), 118, Larry Melancon