Wekeela wins the Matchmaker with a ground saving trip

Wekeela wins the Matchmaker with a ground saving trip

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Wekeela Wins Matchmaker over Miss Temple City

French-bred mare won by three-quarters of a length.

A ground-saving trip on the inside by Javier Castellano enabled Wekeela to open up down the Monmouth Park stretch and best multiple grade 1 winner Miss Temple City in the $100,000 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes (G3T) July 30. 

Miss Temple City—making her 2017 United States debut after a disappointing off-the-board finish in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot—went wide around the final turn and was unable to catch Wekeela and a surging War Flag. She settled for third as the odds-on favorite. 

"My plan was to be right behind the horses, saving as much ground as possible," Castellano said. "You need to have a perfect trip to beat Miss Temple City and that's what happened. I was very aware of the situation. I took my shot riding the rail and it worked out great."

In the 1 1/8-mile turf test, Judy's Chance led the six-horse field through six furlongs, clocking fractions of :24.61, :48.71, and 1:12.13. Miss Temple City stalked closely in second on the inside, as Wekeela raced in fourth near the rail. 

Around the second turn, Miss Temple City moved to the outside around Judy's Chance. Castellano kept Wekeela glued to the rail and the duo cut into Miss Temple City's minor advantage out of the turn, as War Flag was closing hard from fifth down the center of the stretch. With a final drive, Wekeela finished three-quarters of a length in front of War Flag at the wire. Miss Temple City had to settle for third, a length further back. 

Martin Schwartz's 5-year-old daughter of Hurricane Run completed the distance in 1:47.97 over the firm turf. 

Judy's Chance, Giovanna Blues, and Quiet Kitten completed the order of finish. 

"It set up just like we planned," said winning trainer Chad Brown. "Javier and I spoke in the paddock about how we had a terrific post position, but we had a lot of respect for both War Flag and Miss Temple City. We knew Wekeela was probably going to have to get a perfect trip to beat those two horses today, and Javier executed that perfectly. Luckily the inside opened up and she got the jump on everybody and held strong."

The victory marked the second that the pair teamed up to win after Money Multiplier took the Monmouth Stakes (G2T) earlier in the day. Brown also had an allowance winner in the ninth race on the Haskell card.

Off as the 2-1 second choice, Wekeela returned $6.60, $3.20, and $2.20 across the board. 

Wekeela was a group 3 winner and was group 1 placed in France at 3 for owner Dy Treves and trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. In 2015, she was entered in the Arqana Saint Cloud Arc de Triomphe sale, where she sold to Oceanic Bloodstock as the second highest price for $1,233,540. 

Wekeela was then moved to the U.S. in 2016, where she finished second in her first two starts both at the top level. She finished five lengths behind champion Tepin in the 2016 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1T) at Keeneland and was defeated one length by Illuminant in the Gamely Stakes (G1T) at Santa Anita Park. After finishing last in the grade 1 Diana Stakes last July, she was given time off and reappeared this June to win a 1 1/8-mile allowance-optional claiming race on the inner turf by a neck at Belmont Park.

Bred in France by Dieter Burkle out of the German-bred mare Moonrise (Grand Lodge), she now has five wins and four seconds from 13 starts, with earnings of  $418,587.