OZONE PARK, N.Y.— NBS Stable and Elements Racing’s stakes winner Danse Macabre will look to make the grade in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Matron, a six-furlong outer turf test for juvenile fillies, at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
The Matron, set for Race 6, is part of a stacked card that includes the Grade 1 $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in Race 8; and the Grade 2, $250,0000 Vosburgh in Race 5, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Keeneland.
Trained by Kelsey Danner, Danse Macabre is one of three returning rivals along with Redifined [3rd] and the pacesetting Sweet Harmony [5th] from the 5 1/2-furlong Bolton Landing won by Love Reigns on August 21 at Saratoga Race Course.
Danse Macabre exited post 7-of-9 in the Bolton Landing under Luis Saez, bumping with Redifined and Aztec Nights at the start before settling in fifth position as Sweet Harmony blitzed a half-mile in 44.87 seconds. Love Reigns, fourth in the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot, took over with three-sixteenths remaining to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Danse Macabre, who was three-quarters of a length better than Redifined.
“She broke a step slow and then horses on both sides of her came in on her and she lost her position,” Danner said. “Love Reigns is a nice filly, so with her loose on the lead it was all over after that. But it was a good recovery and she kept trying. I like that about her. She had enough excuses to throw in the towel – she got banged around a bit on the backside that day as well, but she kept running.”
Adam Beschizza picked up the mount last out in the 6 1/2-furlong Untapable on September 13 at Kentucky Downs, tracking from second position and advancing with purpose at the quarter-pole to take command en route to a nose score over Alluring Angel, who rallied from fifth position after a slow start.
“She sat just off of it and dug in deep that last bit. It’s probably as far as she wants to go, but she gutted it out. There’s a 300-foot run up, so that’s pretty much seven-eighths with an uphill,” Danner said. “Alluring Angel broke slow and had to make up ground and we got the jump on her, but obviously Danse is tough that last eighth of a mile. She’s all heart. She’s not a big filly by any means. She’s just fast and solid.”
The $55,000 purchase at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training is out of the Blame mare Sylphide, who is a half-sister to multiple graded-stakes winner Cambodia.
Beschizza retains the mount from post 2 on Danse Macabre, who graduated at second asking on July 13 at Colonial in her turf debut.
Team D’s Redifined [post 7, Javier Castellano] graduated at first asking in June sprinting six furlongs over the Belmont Park turf for trainer Tony Dutrow. The $150,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase closed well after being bumped twice out of the gate last out in the Bolton Landing, rallying from seventh to finish third with a strong gallop out.
Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable, Steven Schoenfeld and Smart Choice Stable’s Sweet Harmony [post 10, Kendrick Carmouche] made her first two starts at Monmouth Park, taking a main-track maiden special weight in June ahead of a prominent 1 3/4-length score one month later in the Colleen at five furlongs over firm turf.
Trained by John Terranova, the Bayern dark bay, who was purchased for $135,000 at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, was a fading fifth last out in the Bolton Landing.
West Point Thoroughbreds, Scarlet Oak Racing and Titletown Racing Stables’ Dontlookbackatall [post 1, Manny Franco] graduated at first asking with a two-length score in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on August 25 at the Spa. The third-place finisher of that event, Essaouira, followed with a win on dirt at Delaware Park and will now target Friday’s Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland.
The Pennsylvania-bred Dontlookbackatall, by Peace and Justice and out of the Arch mare Celtic Arch, is a three-quarter sister to graded-stakes placed En Wye Cee.
Dontlookbackatall was purchased for $150,000 at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, where she breezed a quarter-mile in 20.60 in the extended under tack session.
“She’s done everything right. She had been training well and she always showed speed,” Clement said. “She had a very good work at the 2-year-olds in training sale in Ocala.”
Dontlookbackatall has breezed back four times out of her maiden score, including three efforts over the Oklahoma training turf at Saratoga.
Clement, who won this race in 2018 with Lonely Road, finished second last year with Gal in a Rush, who was co-owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Titletown Racing Stables.
Tracy Farmer’s Personal Pursuit [post 8, Junior Alvarado] made her first two starts on the main track, graduating last out over good and sealed going in an off-the-turf six-furlong maiden special weight on September 22 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, the Tapit grey is out of the stakes-place Kitten’s Joy mare Maddie’s Odyssey, who has produced graded-stakes winners Sneaking Out [by Indian Evening] and Grecian Fire [by Unusual Heat], along with stakes winners Smuggler’s Run [by Straight Fire] and Been Studying Her [by Fast Anna].
Personal Pursuit was purchased for $500,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
D Hatman Thoroughbreds’ Determined Jester [post 6, Forest Boyce] graduated in style last out at third asking with a 35-1 upset in the Rosie’s traveling 5 1/2-furlongs over firm turf at Colonial.
Trained by Phil Schoenthal, the Practical Joke chestnut finished third in her July debut in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at the Spa. That event was won over good going by American Rockette, who exited that effort to finish fourth in a pair of Grade 1s on the main track in the Spinaway at Saratoga and Frizette at Belmont at the Big A.
The $575,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase is out of the Dixie Union mare Call Mariah, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-winners Daredevil and Albertus Maximus.
Rounding out a loaded 12-horse field are maiden winners American Apple [post 3, Eric Cancel], Atomic Girl [post 12, Jorge Vargas, Jr.], Fleetfooted [post 5, Jose Lezcano], How Lovely [post 4, Trevor McCarthy] and New York-bred Little Linzee [post 11, Jose Gomez] along with maiden Sweetlou’sgotaces [post 9, Dylan Davis]. Apple Picker is entered for the main track only.
The Matron, inaugurated in 1892 at Morris Park Racecourse, was held at Aqueduct Racetrack in 1960 and again from 1962-68. Previously a dirt race for 2-year-olds under a variety of conditions for both fillies and colts, the Matron has been contested on turf for fillies only since 2018.
First post on Saturday’s 11-race card is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of every day of Belmont at the Big A on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
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By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office
Main photo: Danse Macabre victorious by a nose over Alluring Angel in the Untapable (Coady Photography)
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