Defending champ Euphony and last year's Arlington Oaks (gr. III) winner Peach Brew, both trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, are among a dozen older fillies and mares entered in the $150,000 Arlington Matron Stakes (gr. III) May 29 at the Illinois track.
The Arlington Matron, in its 74th running, is one of two grade III stakes on the Arlington Park program and immediately follows the $100,000 Hanshin Cup for older males. The Matron, at 1 1/8 miles over the Polytrack surface, is the 10th race on the card with a 5:43 p.m. probable post.
This year's Martron field appears to be stronger than the one Euphony defeated last year and includes grade II winner Tizaqueena and the consistent Floating Heart and Haka.
Pin Oak Stable's Euphony benefitted from a rail-hugging trip with Cliff Berry aboard to score a three-quarter length victory at odds of nearly 8-1 in last year's Arlington Matron. This was the race in which jockey Rene Douglas was paralyzed after his mount, Born to Be, clipped heels and fell in the homestretch, landing on the prone rider.
Euphony's win in last year's Matron was her fifth consecutively for Von Hemel, but she has lost five in a row since then, including three defeats this year at Oaklawn Park. The 5-year-old Forest Wildcat mare hopes to rebound from her fourth-place finish, beaten by seven lengths as the 7-5 choice, in the Bayakoa Stakes on a wet-fast Oaklawn strip April 7.
Regular rider Berry is aboard Euphony, who breaks from post 2. Euphony has won nine of 16 lifetime starts while earning $527,600.
Von Hemel's other entrant, Robert Zoellner's Peach Brew, came from off the pace to register a half-length win in the 1 1/8-mile Arlington Oaks at 8-1 odds last July. The 4-year-old daughter of Milwaukee Brew has won twice in seven races since. She returned to Arlington May 9 to run fourth in a one-mile optional claiming allowance race won by Matron foe Home's the Best.
Euphony and Peach Brew, who will be ridden by Quincy Hamilton, are each assigned 116 pounds, seven fewer than four co-high weights in the field -- Tizaqueena, Haka, Souper Miss and Askbut I Won'ttell.
Darley Stable’s Tizaqueena comes off a fifth-place finish as the favorite in the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT), a race she won in 2009, over a yielding course at Churchill Downs May 1.
The locally-based 5-year-old daughter of Tiznow finished second in the Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) and fourth in the Beverly D. (gr. IT) over the Arlington Park turf course last summer. She has since scored in a pair of stakes at Fair Grounds, most recently in the $100,000 Bayou Handicap on grass prior to her most recent start.
E.T. Baird will ride the Mike Stidham-trained mare. Tizaqueena leads the Matron field in lifetime earnings with $545,518 while compiling a 7-3-1 mark in 14 races.
Stidham felt the soft course was to blame for Tizaqueena's hiccup at Churchill. “At least, I’m hoping that’s what it was," he said. "It’s the only thing I can think of to explain why she didn’t run the way she usually does.”
Claiborne Farm's homebred Haka, from the Christophe Clement stable, won the Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland April 16 and has been a consistent performer on synthetic tracks. Graded stakes-placed in the Santa Ysabel (gr. III) and the Las Virgenes (gr. I) at Santa Anita in the winter of 2009, the 4-year-old daughter of Dynaformer makes her first appearance at Arlington.
Haka will be ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani.
Michael Tabor’s Floating Heart invades from trainer Todd Pletcher’s Kentucky division after posting a fifth-place finish in the Bewitch Stakes (gr.. IIIT) on turf at Keeneland April 22. The daughter of champion Giant's Causeway previously ran third in the La Canada (gr. II) and Santa Margarita (gr. I), both contested over Santa Anita Park’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface, and was a winner in allowance company over Turfway Park’s Polytrack last fall. Jesus Castanon has the mount.
Souper Miss is on a four-race win streak for trainer Mickey Goldfine and is coming off her first stakes win April 24 at Hawthorne.
$150,000 Arlington Matron (gr. III, Race 10, 5:43 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Floating Heart (KY), J L Castanon, 116, T A Pletcher
2. Euphony (KY), M C Berry, 116, D K Von Hemel
3. Askbut I Won'ttell (FL), E E Perez, 123, C M Block
4. Celtic Princess (BRZ), A Canchano, 116, E Caramori
5. Hark (KY), I Karlsson, 116, I R Wilkes
6. Haka (KY) , C S Nakatani, 123, C Clement
7. Sweet and Flawless (KY), J Alvarado, 116, E R Reed
8. Peach Brew (OK), Q Hamilton, 116, D K Von Hemel
9. Home's the Best (IL), L Wade, 116, B Williamson
10. Magical Theater (KY), M C Baze, 116, G R Arnold, II
11. Tizaqueena (KY), E T Baird, 123, M Stidham
12. Souper Miss (IL), T Thornton, 123, M A Goldfine