Good things come to those who wait, and so it was that Calumet Farm's Irish filly Starstruck bided time stalking the pace, waiting for the right moment to take home the win in the 47th running of the $150,000 Matchmaker Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) at Monmouth Park July 28.
While French import Minakshi led the field through early fractions of :25.44, :50.78, and 1:14.85, jockey Rosie Napravnik patiently rode Starstruck mid-field for the first half of the 1 1/8-mile turf contest before making their winning bid.
"She's a really nice filly that we acquired back in the spring," said conditioner Larry Jones. "She's finally putting it all together both physically and mentally and I'm looking forward to finding some other stakes for her moving forward. I think getting back to a mile and an eighth (from her last start at one mile, where she finished third) made a big difference today, and the addition of blinkers helped her relax outside horses and finish well."
After an even start for the field of seven fillies and mares it was the favored Channel Lady who kept the pressure on pacesetter Minakshi. British mare Julie's Love raced in third while 5-2 second choice Starstruck was well-placed traveling three wide in fourth. Into the final turn Napravnik asked, and Starstruck answered. The pair moved into the four path to take the lead down the stretch and prove best at the wire by 1 1/4 lengths with a final time of 1:49.27 on firm going.
"I got a good trip," declared Napravnik of the winning ride. "It was a pretty slow pace so we just inched closer and closer and she finished tremendously. She's improved every time out and I was happy to get a good trip from her today."
Naples Bay, who trailed the pack on the far turn, made a game effort in the stretch. She moved up from sixth to battle with Starstruck and held on gamely for second while Minakshi slipped back from her lead to finish third.
The winner returned $7.60, $4.20, and $3. Runner-up Naples Bay paid $7 and $4.60, while 3-1 Minakshi's third-place finish was worth $3.60. Julie's Love, Parranda, Channel Lady, and Idle Talk completed the order of finish. Laughing, who won the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga Race Course July 27, and main-track-only contender Welcome Guest were scratched.
Mrs. C. L. Weld bred Starstruck in Ireland out of the German mare Agnetha, by Big Shuffle.
The Matchmaker gives the 4-year-old daughter of Galileo her first graded stakes victory and improves her record to 3-2-1 from 11 starts. The $90,000 winner's share of the Matchmaker purse increased the filly's earnings to $136,890.