Thursday, March 22, 2012


Matz Hoping for Double Duty Florida Derby Day


Trainer Michael Matz, who is preparing Union Rags to headline the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on March 31, has a potential starter for the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) in And Why Not.

“And Why Not may be running in the Oaks here or an allowance race the week after on the grass,” Matz said. “But I definitely want to try and get her to the Oaks. I think she’s that type of filly and I think the distance would be perfect for her.”


The 3-year-old daughter of Street Cry hasn’t raced since finishing second in the Oct. 30 Pocahontas (G2) at Churchill Downs, where she closed strongly from 11th in the 12-horse field with a seven-wide move to get within three-quarters of a length of On Fire Baby at the finish.

“She was a very late foal, so we wanted to give her time to mature. She’s quite a big horse,” Matz said.

And Why Not made a striking debut at Saratoga last August to win by 5 ½ lengths with a strong late run. Following a troubled start from her rail post position in the Spinaway, Helen Groves’ homebred recovered to finish third behind Grace Hall, a leading Gulfstream Oaks candidate. Her only off-the-board finish came over Keeneland’s Polytrack with a sixth in the Alcibiades (G1), in which she was rank early. She rebounded with her sharp effort in the Pocahontas.

Matz is preparing another highly regarded 3-year-old filly for her 2012 debut. Somali Lemonade, who won her first two races last year in impressive fashion, hasn’t been to the starting gate since running in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2), in which she endured a rough trip from the No. 14 post position to finish sixth.

“She’s going to run April 19 in the Appalachian Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.

“She’s doing real good,” Matz said. “We really don’t have an agenda for her. She’s starting a little late there, and hopefully we’ll have a nice season with her.”

Somali Lemonade debuted with a late-running 1 ¾-length victory in a seven-furlong turf race at Belmont in September before coming right back to capture the Jessamine (G3) at Keeneland in October with a last-to-first 1 1/16-mile score.

It took Matz a little longer to get Anunciata to the winner’s circle, but the Peru import scored her first victory in four U.S. starts last week at Gulfstream. The 6-year-old daughter of Apprentice posted a game front-running allowance win in her first start ever on turf.

“I think they really need a little time to come around. She’s a nice mare who has won a lot of races. We just could not get her the right races for her with enough distance,” said Matz, whose mare had been off the board in her first three races in the U.S., including two over Gulfstream’s main track.

Anunciata had won nine of 17 races in Peru

“I think she can handle both (dirt and turf). That was the only race I could find that was at least a mile and an eighth, so we decided to try her there,” Matz said. “Actually, she did not work great on the turf, but she worked well enough to win that race. At the head of the lane I thought they were going to swallow her up, but she dug in.”



Speak Easy Gal Breezes for Possible Start in Orchid



Farnsworth Stable’s 6-year-old mare Speak Easy Gal won the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park wire-to-wire in 2010 for trainer Marty Wolfson and may make another run in this year’s edition of the 12-furlong turf test for fillies and mares on Florida Derby Day, Sat., Mar. 31.

“I’m looking at the Orchid,” said Wolfson Thursday morning after the chestnut daughter of West Acre breezed a half-mile in 50 3/5 at Calder Race Course. “She’s run well in her last two races against some really good fillies, but been pressed on the lead by some really fast horses like Romacaca. I’ll look at who might go in there before I decide.”

Speak Easy Gal began the season with an allowance victory at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 8, finished a strong third in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf on Jan. 28 when beaten 1 ½ lengths for it all and a neck for second by Romacaca, and fourth last out in the Suwannee River Stakes (G3) on Feb. 11, beaten 2 ½ lengths for it all by Snow Top Mountain, both races at 1 1/8 miles.

Wolfson also may be represented on the Florida Derby Day undercard with one of three fillies and mares he has nominated for the $150,000 Rampart Stakes (G3). “I nominated three,” said Wolfson. “But with those two monsters (Awesome Feather and Awesome Maria) in there, I’ll only run one in a very short field if I think she can be third and graded stakes-placed.”

Wolfson trains three of just 11 fillies and mares nominated to the 1 1/8 miles Rampart – Stud El Aguila’s 5-year-old Amor de Palacio and Farnsworth Stable’s pair of 4-year-old fillies Beloveda and Canadian Mistress. The latter is a daughter of Canadian Factor that finished fourth last out in the Sabin Stakes (G3) on Feb. 25 behind Awesome Maria and Royal Delta, beaten 2 ½ lengths for second.


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