Robert Evans' homebred Lonely Road took advantage of a beautiful rail-skimming trip to win Monday's Grade 3 Matron Stakes at Belmont Park, holding off the late rush of Monette (9-2) by a head on the wire. Off at odds of 18-1 under David Cohen, the juvenile daughter of Quality Road covered six furlongs over the “good” inner turf course in 1:10.88. The win was the third on the Columbus Day card for trainer Christophe Clement, who also saddled Blacktype to win the Knickerbocker in the third race.
The heavy favorite at 3-2, Entirely came up short in the stretch and had to settle for third.
“It was what we were looking for,” said Cohen. “I was hoping to break well and get her into contention and see a couple of other horses go and take [over] as front-runners for me. There really wasn't a lot there [room on the inside]. The horse on the lead [Egoli, No. 5] kind of edged off the rail approaching the quarter pole, so I took the opportunity when I had it. She switched leads and went into there and that little burst into the hole really had her digging in and fighting for more.”
Monette broke out severely at the start of the race and found herself at the rear of the field in the early going. Conversely, Lonely Road kept close tabs on the pacesetting Egoli, tracking her from the rail position about two lengths off the lead. Egoli was pressed by Guacamole through a first quarter in :21.91, while Malibu Mischief moved up outside of Lonely Road to box her on the rail around the far turn.
Cohen stayed patient, and when Egoli got out a bit turning for home he was able to send Lonely Road through a narrow gap to fight for the lead. Favorite Entirely was coming down the center of the course, while Monette was also making up a lot of ground from the rear of the field. Jose Ortiz was getting the best out of Monette in the final 50 yards, but they came up just short to a very game Lonely Road on the wire. Monette had to settle for second by a head, while Entirely finished third. Into the South also came from well back to claim fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by her owner, Lonely Road is out of the graded stakes-placed Broken Vow mare Lonesome Town, also a homebred for Evans. He first bought into the family with Lonesome Town's dam, Dreams (Silver Hawk), for $300,000 at the 1998 Keeneland July yearling sale. Lonely Road won at second asking at Belmont, but finished eighth with a rough trip in the G3 Schuylerville in her most recent start. The Matron win improves her record to two wins from four starts for earnings of over $140,000.
“Well, initially we kept her on the dirt because she trained well on it and she broke her maiden here early [June 13],” Clement said. “She got beat her first time out, but I thought she ran okay. She came back and after breaking her maiden, ran in the stakes at Saratoga [Grade 3 Schuylerville]. After which we gave her a break and she went back to the farm for three to four weeks. [Owner] Mr. [Robert] Evans kept telling me that the dam was a good turf filly. She's a home bred, so Mr. Evans deserves major credit. Whenever you get a homebred graded stakes win, that's a well done job. She worked well on the turf last week and I thought she got a perfect trip with David [Cohen]. She stalked just behind the leaders and it worked out. I'm very happy.”
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