Proud Spell wins Matron Stakes.

Proud Spell wins Matron Stakes.

Skip Dickstein

Proud Spell Scores Convincingly in Matro

Proud Spell won the Matron Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Sept. 15.

Proud Spell was a bit further off the pace than she had been in her first two career starts, but a decisive four-wide move around the final turn was plenty good enough, as the Larry Jones-trained filly scored by 4 1/4 lengths in the $250,000 Matron Stakes (gr. II) Sept. 15 at Belmont Park.

A 2-year-old daughter of Proud Citizen, out of the Langfuhr  mare Pacific Spell, Proud Spell won for the third time in as many starts. Her first two tries were at Delaware Park, a maiden special weight victory in July, and most recently, a five-length triumph in the six-furlong White Clay Creek Stakes Aug. 25. Both came while not far off the pace.

The Brereton Jones Kentucky homebred made the Matron victory look easy, as she rated well in the backstretch under jockey Gabriel Saez while pacesetter Miss Red Delicious went through fractions of :22.44 and :45.80. Maren’s Meadow, Dagger and Armonk stalked the pace. Through a half-mile, Proud Spell was in fifth.

As the field of seven turned for home, Jeff Singer’s Armonk took the lead, but it was not long before Saez asked Proud Spell, who was just two lengths back at the top of the stretch. Now four-wide, the bay filly responded with authority, easily passing Armonk in mid-stretch. Saez hand-rode her to the wire.

Armonk held on for second, while Bob Hurley’s Dagger finished third.

“We’ve been able to bring her along at a natural progression with distances," said Jones, who also saddled Maren's Meadow. "With her running style, she likes to come from off the pace, so we’re not expecting two turns to be a major problem. She’s come home quick in every race, and most of the time, under a hand ride. We haven’t asked her to do a whole lot.

"More than likely, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies will be our next start.”

The win was even sweeter for Saez. “This is my first graded stakes win," he said. "It feels pretty good. This is a very nice filly. She relaxed great and finished up when I asked her to run. I’m excited about the Breeders’ Cup.”

The 8/5 betting favorite, Proud Spell returned $5.40 to win. Her final time for seven furlongs was 1:24.20. The exacta (3-6) paid $23.20.

Miss Red Delicious, who had won Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes at Ellis Park in her last attempt, finished last.

(Chart, Equibase)