February 20, 2024

Uni rolls late in Matriarch

Uni and jockey Joel Rosario win the Matriarch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar © BENOIT PHOTO

By crowning a perfect 2018 campaign in Sunday’s $302,760 Matriarch (G1), Uni earned her first Grade 1 laurel and gave her trainer/jockey tandem of Chad Brown and Joel Rosario a sweep of Del Mar’s closing weekend features. On Saturday, Rosario guided Brown’s Raging Bull to victory in the Hollywood Derby (G1).

Unlike favored Raging Bull, however, Uni was let go at odds of 5-1. The More Than Ready filly had won all three starts this term, but local celebrity Vasilika garnered 2-1 favoritism in light of her eight-race winning spree. The quality and quantity of Matriarch shippers proved too much for her streak to last, and Vasilika had to settle for fourth.

As expected, speed merchant Fahan Mura went forward and rattled off fast fractions of :22.80, :46.29, and 1:10.59 on the firm course. She was engulfed swinging into the stretch as the cavalry charge commenced.

The stalking Mission Impassible was the first on the premises, but she was collared in turn by Quidura, and then Daddy Is a Legend swept from about midpack. By that point, Uni, who had been as many as 19 lengths back, was motoring on the outside.

Flying her last furlong in :11.08 by Trakus’ reckoning, Uni nabbed Daddy Is a Legend by a half-length. The European import negotiated the mile in 1:34.35 and paid $13.20 to win.

Stablemate Quidura saved third by a neck from Vasilika. In so doing, Quidura handed Brown another one-three finish, after Instilled Regard filled the same spot behind Raging Bull in the Hollywood Derby. Dona Bruja came fifth, followed by Rymska who fared least of the Brown trio. Mission Impassible, Excellent Sunset, Insta Erma, Valadorna, Luminoso, Fahan Mura, and Mopotism rounded out the order under the wire. Ms Bad Behavior was scratched.

Uni’s second trip out west had a happier ending than her first, when she got sick and had to be withdrawn from the Gamely (G1). Her illness affected the timetable for the rest of her campaign that had begun so promisingly with an Aqueduct course record in the April 14 Plenty of Grace. She picked up right where she left off in the August 4 De La Rose at Saratoga, and rolled by 3 3/4 lengths in her latest in the September 22 Noble Damsel (G3) at Belmont Park.

Among the notable sophomore fillies of 2017, Uni was imported after she beat males in last spring’s Prix Matchem. She made her American debut in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1), rounding out the Brown trifecta with New Money Honey and Sistercharlie. Uni scored her first graded win in the Sands Point (G2), placed a close second in the Lake Placid (G2), and ended the year as the fourth-placer in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1).

Campaigned by Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, Robert LaPenta, and Bethlehem Stables, Uni sports a mark of 13-7-2-2, $886,872.