ELMONT, N.Y. – Shortleaf Stable’s homebred Bubble Rock reeled in pacesetter Mystic Eyes and staved off the late-running Gal in a Rush to secure a half-length score in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Matron, a six-furlong inner turf sprint for juvenile fillies, at Belmont Park.
Trained by Brad Cox and piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr., who captured his 3,000th career win here on Thursday, Bubble Rock entered from a dominant 3 1/4-length maiden score sprinting 5 1/2-furlongs over the Mellon turf on September 3 at Saratoga Race Course.
Mystic Eyes, with Manny Franco up, broke alertly and led the field through a half-mile in 44.24 seconds over the firm going with Makin My Move tracking her early foot from second position.
Bubble Rock, who settled outside rivals in third, advanced four-wide through the turn and gradually picked off Makin My Move before surging past a stubborn Mystic Eyes to secure the win in a final time of 1:08.01.
Gal in a Rush, who exited the outermost post 9 under Dylan Davis, saved ground in the early going before tipping out and rallying strongly down the lane to complete the exacta by a half-length over Mystic Eyes.
The victory marked the second Matron score for Ortiz, Jr., who captured last year’s edition aboard Royal Approval.
“She’s nice. Last time she won and finished well, too,” said Ortiz, Jr., who has piloted Bubble Rock in all three starts. “I just did the same thing today. I waited for my time to go and when I asked her, she finished up really strong again. She’s got a really good size to her and she always finishes well, so I think she’ll be alright.”
Dustin Dugas, the New York-based assistant for Cox, said Bubble Rock has matured over the course of her campaign.
“She’s progressed a lot mentally,” Dugas said. “She’s been a very nervous filly to work with and she’s kind of taken some time. She’s really progressed mentally and physically she’s a very big, good-looking filly and moves great.”
Rounding out the order of finish were Makin My Move, The Club, Lady Danae, Dufresne, High Arabian and Mainstay. Benbang was scratched along with the Wesley Ward-trained duo of Poppy Flower and Chi Town Lady, who are both slated to take on the boys in Sunday’s Grade 3 Futurity.
Bubble Rock is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Reef Point, who is a half-sister to millionaire Blue Chipper – winner of the 2019 Group 1 Keeneland Korea Sprint in Seoul and third-place finisher in that year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
A Kentucky homebred, Bubble Rock banked $82,500 in victory while improving her record to 3-2-1-0. She paid $7 for a $2 win wager.
Live racing returns Sunday at Belmont Park with a nine-race card featuring the Grade 2, $250,000 Beldame for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward going nine furlongs; the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity for juveniles going six furlongs on the turf, a “Win And You’re In” for the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint; and the Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker going nine furlongs on the turf for 3-year-olds and upward. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the fall meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
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Belmont Park Press Release
Photo: Bubble Rock, (NYRA Photo)