Matareya strikes again in G2 Eight Belles Stakes
Matareya maintained her perfect three-year-old season and posted her biggest success so far with a determined win in the seven-furlong G2 Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill Downs, USA, on Friday, 6 May.
The Brad Cox-trained filly had raced on or near the lead when dominating in a Fair Grounds allowance race and the G3 Beaumont Stakes on her previous starts this year but found herself shuffled back to sixth early on as Pretty Birdie dictated in front.
Flavien Prat soon bagged the inside rail on Matareya and the Godolphin filly moved up to dispute third after the first quarter-mile before taking second after being angled out at the top of the straight.
Matareya bore down on Pretty Birdie over a furlong from home and edged in front of the rallying pacesetter shortly after. The Pioneerof The Nile homebred quickened away inside the final half-furlong to prevail by two and a quarter lengths.
Brad Cox said: “I’m very proud of Matareya, who stepped up today off a short rest. I think it was three weeks and five days since the Beaumont but she returned with another winning effort.
“I thought that she would break and maybe track a few but Flavien did a beautiful job. They got away from her a little but he didn’t panic, dropped down the inside and saved ground. He got her off the rail outside the winner and kicked home – he rode a fabulous race.
“She had two works at Churchill Downs after the Beaumont and her last piece was very good, which gave us the confidence to try this today.”
Flavien Prat said: “Matareya showed a lot of speed last time but I just got outrun for the first part today. I felt like the two horses on the inside were the ones to beat so, when I had the chance to drop in behind them, I thought it was a good thing to do.
“From there, I was travelling super and she was there for me when I asked her to make a move."