Uni Rallies to Win G1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar

(Uni, with Joel Rosario in the saddle, wins the G1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar on Sunday / Benoit Photo & Courtesy of Del Mar)

From the Del Mar Media Team:

Providing jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Chad Brown with a sweep of Del Mar’s two Grade I stakes events this weekend, Great Britain-bred Uni rallied from next-to-last with a blazing burst of speed in the stretch to win the $300,000 Matriarch Stakes Sunday, closing day of the 16-day fall racing season.

Content to allow Uni to lag in the early stages of the one-mile race over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course, Rosario steered his mount to the outside at the top of the stretch and the four-year-old daughter of More Than Ready responded brilliantly to overhaul 25-1 longshot Daddy Is a Legend in the last half-dozen strides and win by a length in 1:34.35.

Daddy Is a Legend, piloted by Manny Franco, appeared all over a winner until overtaken by the winner and was a length and one-quarter in front of third-place Quidura, also trained by Brown.  The 2-1 favored Vasilika was a neck farther back in fourth in pursuit of her ninth straight victory. Withdrawn from the race for older fillies and mares was Ms Bad Behavior.

Rosario and Brown teamed to win Saturday’s $300,000 Hollywood Derby in similar come-from-behind style with the talented Raging Bull. They also won the 2017 Matriarch renewal with Off Limits, and Rosario won the race in 2014 aboard La Tia.

Uni, owned by Head of Plains Partners and Bethlehem Stables, scored her fourth consecutive stakes win in four starts this year. Sent off at 5-1, Uni paid $13.20, $6.40 and $5 while earning $180,000 to swell her bankroll to $892,880. Daddy Is a Legend paid $16.40 and $10.80, while Quidura returned $6.40.


JOEL ROSARIO (Uni, winner) – “I could tell they were going a little quick up front, because my filly has some speed and we were far back. But she was comfortable, so I was too. I just wanted to make one move with her. About the three furlong (pole) I could feel she was good under me. So we went outside and she went on with it. She’s a nice one.”

MANUEL FRANCO (Daddy Is a Legend, second) – “I had the perfect trip; couldn’t have asked for better. We were outside and she fired. Just what I wanted. But the winner was just too good today.”

JOSE ORTIZ (Quidura, third) – “No complaints from me.  I was in a good spot with her; tucked her in right where I wanted to be.  Then we came running. She fired; we just weren’t quite good enough this time.” 

JOSE HERNANDEZ, assistant to Chad Brown (Uni, winner) – “It was not the plan (to be so far back). We told Joel to break with the field and see what happens. (Uni) can come from behind or be up close. I was a little nervous being so far behind, but she was really, really strong in the stretch. It’s a really great experience for me and it’s really nice for my boss. It’s my first time to (stand in and saddle stakes winners in 11 years working for Brown) at Del Mar, but I’ve done it in other places. (Brown) is one of the best men I’ve ever known and he has very good horses.”


FRACTIONS:  :22.80  :46.29  1:10.59  1:22.76  1:34.35


The stakes win was the second of the meet and third (he won it last year with Off Limits and in 2014 with La Tia) in the Matriarch for rider Rosario.  He now has 26 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the second of the meet and the second (he won it last year with Off Limits) in the Matriarch for trainer Brown. He now has seven stakes wins at Del Mar, six of them in Grade I races.

The winning owners are Head of Plains Stable of Sol Kumin of New York City, Bethlehem Stable of Michael Caruso of Bethlehem, PA, and Robert LaPenta of Yonkers, NY.

I was a little worried right at the start, because his hind-end kind of slipped out leaving the gate, and it looked [like] it took him about a hundred yards to get engaged,” said Pletcher, who also won the Wood Memorial with Eskendereya (2010), Gemologist (2012), Verrazano (2013), and Outwork (2016). “He was a little farther back than I thought he would be, but when you take the pacesetter out, he really was close to the contenders. I felt good about it. I was just hoping he would sustain his momentum around the turn, and he finished up and did great. We’re feeling like we’re seeing a horse that has that talent, and he’s doing well, and we felt like that mile and an eighth is something he’s looking for. This is the performance we’ve been looking for.”

Todd Pletcher, Who conditioned the winner of Wood Memorial

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