Conditioner Mike Maker, known for his prowess on the turf will be well represented in New York on Saturday with a pair of contenders for the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron for juvenile fillies on the turf and Grade 1 Belmont Derby winner Henley’s Joy returning to Belmont for a start in the Grade 2, $400,000 Hill Prince.
A 3-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and owned by Bloom Racing Stable, Henley’s Joy’s lone win this year from eight starts came in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational in July, the first leg of the newly inaugural NYRA Turf Triple Series where he bested a field of 14 going 1 ¼ miles to win by three-quarters of a length. Closing out the Series with a pair of fifth place finishes in the Saratoga Derby at 1 3/16 miles and the Jockey Cub Derby Invitational at 1 ½ miles. Cutting back to 1 1/8 miles for the Hill Prince, Maker said he likes his prospects going forward.
“He’s been doing really well since coming out of the Jockey Club Derby,” said Maker. “I don’t mind the fact that we drew the one-hole. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate but we’re looking to improve him off his last. We know he likes Belmont, and the mile and an eighth distance should hit him in between the eyes.”
In the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron, Maker will saddle A Freud of Mama for owner William Butler and Time Limit for Three Diamonds Farm.
A New York-bred son of Freud, A Freud of Mama finished sixth in her debut this past summer against fellow New York-breds at Saratoga Race Course and rebounded to win in her second start against fellow empire breds at the Matron six-furlong distance finishing 1 ½ lengths in front at the wire.
Time Limit, a daughter of Bustin Stones will try the grass for the first time in the Matron. After impressively wining her debut by 6 ¼ lengths on the dirt on June 23 at Belmont Park she finished fifth in the Stillwater on July 17 at Saratoga before running a game second in the Seeking the Ante on August 23 at the Spa. In her most recent start she ran fourth in the Joseph A. Gimma on September 18 at Belmont.
“They’re both training well into this so we thought we’d give them a shot,” said Maker. “I thought A Freud of Mama made a major improvement from her first to second start and with Time Limit we’ll see where we are with her.”
From: NYRA Press Release
Photo Credit: Janet Garaguso