Miss Red Delicious Eyes Matron Victory

Miss Red Delicious is one of the favorites in the $250,000 Matron Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Sept. 15.

The expectations were fairly modest for Katierich Stables’ Miss Red Delicious, especially after finishing seventh in her racing debut at Keeneland this spring.

But in this business, things have a way of changing in a hurry. After a pair of impressive victories this summer, the 2-year-old filly by Empire Maker , out of Clever Trick mare Miss Mary Apples, finds herself smack in the middle of the $250,000 Matron Stakes (gr. II) Sept. 15 at Belmont Park.

A seven-furlong test for 2-year-old fillies on the main track, the Matron drew a field of seven.

Trained by Mark Hubley, Miss Red Delicious was sent back to the starting gate in June, two months after after her disappointing debut. The outcome was dramatically different that time, as she won by a whopping 13 1/2 lengths at Colonial Downs, adding Lasix and blinkers. A month later, on Aug. 18, Hubley shipped Miss Red Delicious to Ellis Park for the seven-furlong Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes. She won by a length-and-a-half in a time of 1:24.98.

Kent Desormeaux, who won the Matron last year aboard longshot Meadow Breeze, will get the mount.

"This spot makes a lot of sense for us," Hubley said. "She's won at the distance already. This may come up a little softer than some of these other races. A lot of guys want to run three weeks out from the (Breeders' Cup)."

To win her third in a row, Miss Red Delicious will have to defeat a promising field, including a pair of Kiaran McLaughlin entries, Sabooh and Armonk.

Sabooh, a $500,000 yearling purchase by A.P. Indy-Smolensk, was also less than stellar in her debut, losing by nearly 10 lengths at Belmont. But in her second start at Saratoga Aug. 19, Sabooh won a seven-furlong maiden special weight by two-and-a-quarter lengths. The bay filly is owned by Shadwell Stable and was bred in Kentucky by B. Wayne Hughes. She draws the rail and gets jockey Alan Garcia.

“Sabooh is very closely related to (back-to-back Belmont Stakes-winning siblings) Jazil and Rags to Riches,” McLaughlin said. “With her, the longer the better. I really liked the improvement she had in her second start, and I’m hoping it continues in the Matron.”

Armonk has raced just once in her young career, a troubled third-place finish in an Aug. 22 maiden effort at Saratoga. A $400,000 auction purchase by Mizzen Mast , Armonk will let owner Jeff Singer know just how talented she is by stepping up in class.

“I’ve talked about the Breeders’ Cup with (Jeff Singer) and the only way to tell if she’s good enough is to run in graded stakes,” McLaughlin said. “It’s not my style running a maiden in stakes company, but she ran a winning race first time out. She’s training excellent.”

Proud Spell is the most accomplished of the Matron starters, having won both her Delaware Park starts. After taking her maiden debut by a half length, the daughter of Proud Citizen-Pacific Spell came back to take the six-furlong White Clay Creek Stakes by five lengths under Gabriel Saez.

Trained by Larry Jones, who has won important New York stakes with horses like Hard Spun, Island Sand and Wildcat Bettie B over the past few years, Proud Spell is a Brereton Jones homebred who enjoys stalking the pace.

The field is rounded out by Syriana’s Song, Maren’s Meadow and Dagger, all fillies who have raced twice and broke their maidens last time out.

$250,000 Matron Stakes (gr. II, Race 6, 3:36 p.m.), Two-Year-Old Fillies, Seven Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Sabooh (KY), 119, Alan Garcia
2. Syriana's Song (KY), 119, John R. Velazquez
3. Proud Spell (KY), 119, Gabriel Saez
4. Dagger (KY), 119, Stewart Elliott
5. Miss Red Delicious (KY), 119, Kent J. Desormeaux
6. Armonk (KY), 119, Eibar Coa
7. Maren's Meadow (ON), 119, Mario G. Pino