Jockey Javier Castellano dropped the left rein briefly aboard Love Match at the start of the $150,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker (gr. IIIT), but it wasn't enough to keep the 5-year-old mare from registering a 27-1 surprise Sunday on the Monmouth Park turf.
Making her graded stakes debut, Love Match opened up a two-length lead with a furlong left in the 1 1/8-mile event and had enough left to coast home a length in front of Cat Alert. Emerald Earrings checked in a half-length farther back in third, a nose ahead of the even-money favorite Spotlight. She paid $56.60, $19.60, and $9.80.
The final time was 1:50 1/5 on a firm track.
The Maryland-bred daughter of Partner's Hero
set an easy early pace – :23 4/5, :50 1/5 and 1:14 3/5. Love Match responded when called upon by Castellano to widen her lead in mid-stretch and held sway over Cat Alert and Emerald Earrings, who chased the winner all the way in second and third place.
Spotlight, ridden by Jerry Bailey, was unhurried by racing in mid-pack and rallied between horses but was unable to make up enough ground to pose a challenge.
Trained by John Kimmel, Love Match earned $90,000 for co-breeder and owner Anne Poulson with her fifth win in 14 starts. She nearly doubled her career winnings to $185,690.
Cat Alert paid $9.20 and $7, and Emerald Earrings returned $8.60.
After Spotlight, came Smart N Classy, Classic Stamp, Topiary, Humoristic, Briviesca, and Noble Stella.
Also on the Monmouth card, 7-1 shot Aree ($17.80), ridden by Jose Velez Jr., upset favored My Trusty Cat by a head in the $100,000 Regret for fillies and mares at six furlongs.
Trained by Mark Hennig for owner/breeder Shadwell Stables, Areek was coming off a three-length win in the Red Cross on a sloppy Monmouth track July 17. She won for the seventh time in 15 starts and pushed her earnings to $252,880.
Silver Bird ran third with Souris closing from last in the field of eight to finish fourth.