Edward Evans' homebred 2-year-old filly Raging Fever remained undefeated as she held off the late charge of Dancinginmydreams to win the $200,000 Matron Stakes (gr. I) by a head Sunday at Belmont Park. Over a fast track, the full sister of Stormin Fever completed the mile in 1:38.20 under Jerry Bailey.
Major Wager, Raging Fever, and Ilusoria broke sharply, and the first two dueled through a quarter mile in :23.20 as Ilusoria shuffled back. Major Wager remained a head in front of Raging Fever after a half mile in :46.70, with Ilusoria tracking, and Dancinginmydreams and Weekend Gold over 15 lengths off the leaders. Raging Fever, trained by Mark Hennig, began to pull away from Major Wager on the turn and drew off through the stretch, leading by seven at the eighth-mile pole. Dancinginmydreams, meanwhile, began to make up ground on the turn, angled out with just over a furlong to run, swept by Ilusoria and Major Wager at the eighth-mile pole, and challenged Raging Fever to the wire to just miss.
"At the top of the stretch I thought this was going well and then I was concerned that Jerry (Bailey) didn't see the other filly making a run at her," said Hennig. "He geared her down and I thought the other filly might get to us."
Dancinginmydreams finished 9 3/4 lengths clear of third-place Ilusoria. Major Wager finished fourth, followed by Weekend Gold.
"We were running today to get to the Frizette and at the three-eighths pole I was thinking about an allowance race at Aqueduct (for her next start)," said Claude "Shug" McGaughey, trainer of Dancinginmydreams. "I'm not sure she didn't hang a bit in the last two or three jumps, but then again Jerry (Bailey) probably went back to riding his horse, too."
The win is the fourth in four starts for Raging Fever (Storm Cat--Pennant Fever, by Seattle Slew), who won her first three races by an average margin of nearly nine lengths. Raging Fever added $120,000 to her career bankroll, while adding a grade I win to her resume. Previously, she won the $103,000 Astoria Stakes at Belmont in July, and the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) over a sloppy track at Saratoga in August.
As the 1-5 favorite, Raging Fever returned $2.40, $2.10, and $2.10. The winning exacta combination paid $6.70. (Chart, Equibase