Matareya calls the shots in G1 Derby City Distaff
Matareya posted the second G1 success of her career as she beat top sprinters Wicked Halo and Goodnight Olive in a riveting renewal of the Derby City Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, USA, on Saturday, 6 May.
The Brad Cox-trained filly had made all when storming to victory in last season’s G1 Acorn Stakes and once again displayed blistering early pace to race in a half-length second on the outside of Travel Column.
After closing on Travel Column turning in, Matareya established a narrow lead at the top of the lane, with Wicked Halo moving up on the Godolphin homebred’s outside to deliver her challenge.
Matareya responded gamely for Flavien Prat to increase her advantage to a length and a half passing the furlong-pole. Wicked Halo could make no significant inroads on the leader and hemmed in Goodnight Olive, who was unable to get off the inside rail.
Matareya meanwhile hit the line strongly for a length verdict over Wicked Halo, with the same margin back to 2022’s Champion Female Sprinter Goodnight Olive.
Michael Banahan, Director of Bloodstock, Godolphin USA, said: “Matareya is a top-class sprinting filly and we were very hopeful coming into today’s race. She loves seven furlongs and was already a G1-winning filly, while we knew that she liked the track after winning the G2 Eight Belles last year.
“We felt that, with a good draw and an ideal spot, we could put some pressure on Goodnight Olive and Wicked Halo. It worked out like that and it was a fantastic ride from Flavien [Prat] to be able to do it.
“We were disappointed that Matareya needed time off after Saratoga last year but hopefully we can get to the Breeders’ Cup this time for the Filly & Mare Sprint. I think she can go there and show everyone how good she is. The Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga will be a target as well and that could be a perfect spot for her.”
Brad Cox added: “We pointed towards this race for a while and gave Matareya a prep-race at Oaklawn, when she ran well. Flavien [Prat] did a great job today of getting her in a good early position. She is very fast from the gate and then sometimes the leaders get away from her, but he was able to hold his position and get the jump on two other very good fillies.
“She had good energy today, not nervous energy. She was on it today but she needed to be as this is a good group of fillies and a true G1 race. She really fought on and tried hard, so I am very proud of her effort.”