Batique Sets Course Record in Matchmaker Victory

Batique employed a front-running style to earn her first stakes win, leading from wire-to-wire to win Saturday's Vinery Matchmaker Handicap (gr. IIIT) by 2 1/2 lengths at Monmouth Park.

Under jockey Jose Ferrer, Batique raced the opening half-mile in :46.37, with 4-5 favorite Gaviola a length off the pace. Those two continued to run one-two after six furlongs run in a quick 1:09.19 on the firm turf course. Batique kicked clear as Gaviola tired, stretching her lead to 4 1/2 lengths in the stretch before holding off the late charge of Melody Queen, who finished second. Batique stopped the timer after completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.19, breaking the one-week old course record.

"She's hard to rate, and coming from the one hole Jose (Ferrer) didn't have a lot of choice but to go to the lead," said winning trainer Laird George. "It wasn't the plan. When the 1:09 went up (time for the first six furlongs), I was calling Jose a lot of names. When the 1:33 1/5 (mile time) went up, I just doubled up on the names."

Lucky Lune came home third, followed by Laurica, Krisada, Queue, Gaviola, and Free Vacation.

A 5-year-old mare, Batique returned $19.80 for the win and led a $114.80 exacta.

Helen K. Groves' homebred daughter of Storm Cat, out of the Fappiano mare Serape, Batique earned $60,000 for the win, her fifth in 19 starts. Prior to the Matchmaker, her best showing in a stakes race was a second-place finish in the listed Open Fire Stakes. (Chart, Equibase)