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Better Lucky Springs Upset in Matriarch

Better Lucky ridden by Eddie Castro wins the Grade I Matriarch at Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California on November 25, 2012.
Better Lucky, a $5,000 late nominee, scored the biggest upset in the history of the Grade I, $250,000 Matriarch Sunday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Owned by Godolphin Racing LLC, trained by Tom Albertrani and ridden by Eddie Castro, Better Lucky, a daughter of Ghostzapper, returned $72.20 for the most significant victory of her career. This easily eclipsed the $63.40 Duda paid when she won the 1995 Matriarch for owner Madeleine Paulson and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Content to track while Summer Soiree opened a clear advantage through the first six furlongs, Better Lucky gained the lead inside the final eighth of a mile and repelled the late bid of 7-1 shot Tiz Flirtatious to win by one length.

Completing the mile in 1:34.18, Better Lucky, who is out of the Seeking the Gold mare Sahara Gold, earned her fourth win in nine starts and pushed her earnings to $438,950. She’s 2-for-5 on grass and became the seventh 3-year-old filly – and second in a row – to win the Matriarch.

“I had a good break, but I got really scared when (Dayatthespa) had trouble near the fence,’’ said Castro after his first Betfair Hollywood Park stakes win. “My filly gave me a real nice kick and that was good enough to win today.

Never higher than 15-1 in her career, Better Lucky was dismissed Sunday even though she had finished only 2 ½ lengths behind Dayatthespa, who was fifth in the Matriarch, in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Oct. 13 at Keeneland.

“I was surprised at her odds,’’ said Godolphin’s racing manager Jimmy Bell. “I really felt if they (the betting public) respected Dayatthespa, you wouldn’t necessarily think that we would be a 30-1 shot. She’s really blossomed.

“This is certainly a great way to cap off this year. She’s very game, tries and is dead honest. I would think she’d surely be racing next year.’’

Trying to become the first California bred winner of the Matriarch, Tiz Flirtatious rallied strongly in the final quarter of a mile to finish 2 ¼ lengths in front of 21-1 outsider Summer Soiree, who was making what will probably be her final start for Team Valor International and trainer H. Graham Motion.

Tiz Flirtatious, who is undefeated in four races against state breds, paid $8.00 and $5.80 while the show price on Summer Soiree, who finished second in the 2011 Matriarch, was $9. The longshot trifecta was worth $3,018.80 for $1.

Dayattthespa, the 17-10 favorite who entered with five consecutive turf wins in 2012, finished a neck behind fourth place finisher Future Generation.

Her subpar performance came after some self-caused trouble early in the race.

“She was scared a little bit running inside of horses,’’ said jockey Javier Castellano, who did well to remain aboard the daughter of City Zip when she propped. “She got shy of that other horse (Future Generation) and jumped out around the first turn. She wasn’t the same after that.’’

Rafael Bejarano, who rode Tiz Flirtatious for the first time since he was aboard for her debut win nearly 14 months ago, thought Dayatthespa’s antics cost Tiz Flirtatious the win.

“I had a good trip, but it cost me the race when she hit the rail and forced me to come out,’’ he said. “I think my horse would have won if it not for that incident.’’

Emulous, the 2-1 second choice, never got involved after leaving slowly in her United States debut. Defending champion Star Billing and Vamo a Galupiar completed the order of finish.

 

 

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