By Steve Sherack
ELMONT, NY – With the late-arriving crowd still filing in as John Imbriale announced champion Echo Zulu (Gun Runner) as a stunning late scratch at the gate, Godolphin homebred Matareya (Pioneerof the Nile) showed no mercy on her three remaining rivals going a one-turn mile in Saturday's GI Acorn S. at Belmont Park.
Matareya broke like a shot beneath Flavien Prat and led through an opening quarter in an easy :23.39. In cruise control and increasing her advantage as the quartet hit the quarter pole, Matareya was hand ridden down the stretch to stay perfect in four starts in 2022. It was 6 1/4 lengths back to Divine Huntress (Divining Rod) in second; Dream Lith (Medaglia d'Oro) was third.
Kicking off her sophomore campaign with an allowance win at Fair Grounds Feb. 26, Matareya added Keeneland's GIII Beaumont S. Apr. 10 and Churchill's GII Eight Belles S. May 6. Her latter two tries were both going seven furlongs.
After airing first out at Ellis last August, her juvenile campaign also included a dead-heat fifth-place finish in last fall's GI Darley Alcibiades S. at Keeneland and a second-place finish in the Fern Creek S. at Churchill Downs Nov. 27.
“It was unfortunate what happened right before the race with the scratch [of Echo Zulu], and a little unusual, but Matareya handled it all and ran her race,” said winning trainer Brad Cox, also responsible for brilliant 2018 Acorn winner Monomoy Girl. “She ran great and we're really proud of her. I was a little concerned running her back in this spot so soon after the Eight Belles, but she was doing so great we decided to come here and she rose to the occasion.”
The GI Longines Test S. at Saratoga Aug. 6 will be next.
“I think this sets her up well for the Test next,” Cox said. “Now she's a Grade I winner and this filly deserves it. It's great to win a Grade I on Belmont Day and in New York. It's always great to win a Grade I anywhere.”
Last year's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine and 'TDN Rising Star' Echo Zulu suffered her first career defeat finishing fourth last time in the GI Kentucky Oaks. Jockey Joel Rosario said that something felt amiss during the post parade.
“It took a little while to warm up,” Rosario said. “She looked a little bit off and they decided to scratch her.”
Dr. Anthony Verderosa, Director of NYRA Veterinarians, added, “The filly was lame in her left front.”
Matareya becomes the fourth Grade I winner for her late sire Pioneerof the Nile. This is the 15th Grade I winner for broodmare sire Bernardini and one of two on the day along with GI Ogden Phipps S. heroine Clairiere (Curlin). Matareya's Grade III-winning dam is a daughter of Golden Velvet, who was stakes-placed in France before adding a pair of graded victories and a runner-up effort in the 2008 Phipps. Golden Velvet is a daughter of Harbor View Farm's outstanding turfer Caress, who was purchased by John Ferguson on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed's operation for $3.1 million at the 2000 Keeneland November Sale a handful of months after the mare foaled a Pulpit colt. That offspring, Sky Mesa ($750,000 KEESEP yearling), was raced by John Oxley to a victory in the GI Hopeful S. Caress is also the dam of Velvety (Bernardini), whose son Maxfield (Street Sense) closed out his career victoriously in the GI Clark H. and now stands at Darley at Jonabell. Innovative Idea is the dam of the unraced 2-year-old filly Methodology (Uncle Mo), a yearling colt by the same stallion and visited him once again last season.
Saturday, Belmont Park
ACORN S.-GI, $465,000, Belmont, 6-11, 3yo, f, 1m, 1:35.77, ft.
1–MATAREYA, 120, f, 3, by Pioneerof the Nile
1st Dam: Innovative Idea (GSW, $229,343), by Bernardini
2nd Dam: Golden Velvet, by Seeking the Gold
3rd Dam: Caress, by Storm Cat
1ST GRADE I WIN. O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-Brad H. Cox;
J-Flavien Prat. $275,000. Lifetime Record: 8-5-2-0, $946,867.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick
Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
2–Divine Huntress, 118, f, 3, by Divining Rod
1st Dam: Thrill Seeker, by Housebuster
2nd Dam: Georgia K., by Horatius
3rd Dam: Pleasure Point, by Honest Pleasure
1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE, 1ST G1 BLACK
TYPE. ($16,000 RNA Ylg '20 EASOCT). O-Eclipse Thoroughbred
Partners & Long Valley Stables, LLC; B-Dr. & Mrs. Thomas
Bowman, Ricky L. Buckley & Joshua Dreiband (MD); T-H.
Graham Motion. $100,000.
3–Dream Lith, 120, f, 3, by Medaglia d'Oro
1st Dam: Elle Sueno, by Street Cry (Ire)
2nd Dam: Mi Sueno, by Pulpit
3rd Dam: Madcap Escapade, by Hennessy
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($590,000 RNA Wlg '19 FTKNOV).
O-Cypress Creek Equine & Arnold Bennewith; B-Southern
Equine Stables, LLC (KY); T-Robertino Diodoro. $60,000.
Margins: 6 1/4, 5HF, 16. Odds: 0.30, 6.60, 10.40.
Also Ran: Inventing. Scratched: Echo Zulu.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.