January 20, 2022

Wekeela, Money Multiplier sweep Monmouth turf stakes for Brown, Castellano

Wekeela rode the rail to her first U.S. stakes win in the Matchmaker (Photo courtesy Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

Trainer Chad Brown captured both of Monmouth Park’s turf stakes on Haskell Day, with the assistance of picture-perfect rides by Javier Castellano. Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Money Multiplier recorded an overdue first stakes victory in the $199,000 Monmouth S. (G2), and Martin Schwartz’s Wekeela outkicked Miss Temple City to earn her initial U.S. stakes win in the $101,000 Matchmaker (G3).

Although carrying the lesser purse, the Matchmaker attracted a greater degree of interest thanks to the presence of three-time Royal Ascot competitor Miss Temple City, the 4-5 favorite in her first start back from Berkshire. Initially a little tight on the rail inside of pacesetter Judy’s Chance as the first quarter was accomplished in :24.61, Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado got Miss Temple City out of the pocket on the clubhouse turn.

But Castellano then moved Wekeela right into that vacated space, which turned out to be the lucky path after all. Miss Temple City was in the clear prompting Judy’s Chance through splits of :48.71 and 1:12.13, and threw down the gauntlet entering the stretch.

Judy’s Chance didn’t corner too well, however. Aside from causing Miss Temple City to go wider, she left the proverbial barn door open for Wekeela. Quickening like a shot, the 2-1 second choice absconded with her gift by the time the 5-2 War Flag revved into gear down the lane.

Wekeela, who flashed her tail several times once alone in front, negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.97. War Flag did well to cut the margin to three-quarters of a length. Miss Temple City checked in another length back in third, four lengths clear of Judy’s Chance in the six-horse field.

The top three finishers, in addition to their prize money, earned a date with a WinStar stallion. The sponsoring farm furnished seasons to Paynter (timely, since the 2012 Haskell [G1] hero sired his first winner on Sunday’s undercard), Daredevil, and Tourist.

Wekeela has bankrolled $418,269 from her 13-5-4-0 line. During her French career with Jean-Claude Rouget, the bay prevailed in the 2015 Prix Chloe (G3), placed second in the Prix Saint-Alary (G1), and finished fourth in the Prix de l’Opera (G1). In her first two stateside outings for Brown in 2016, Wekeela was runner-up in both the Jenny Wiley (G1) (to Tepin) and the Gamely (G1), but failed to land a blow in a too-bad-to-be-true Diana (G1). She returned triumphant from a nearly 11-month layoff in a Belmont allowance, and made it two in a row Sunday.

Bred by Dieter Burkle in France, Wekeela was purchased by Schwartz for €1.1 million at the 2015 Arqana Arc Sale. That was a more than tenfold increase on her €90,000 yearling price at Arqana August. The five-year-old is by Hurricane Run and out of the Grand Lodge mare Moonrise, making her a full sister to Scandinavian champion Matauri Pearl. Second dam Morning Queen, a full sister to influential sire Monsun, is also ancestress of Group 1-winning stayer Molly Malone. Also in the family is current French 2000 Guineas (G1)/French Derby (G1) victor Brametot.

Money Multiplier scored an overdue first stakes win in the Monmouth (Photo courtesy Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)

Earlier in the Monmouth, Money Multiplier was dispatched as the 4-5 favorite in his belated 2017 debut.

The son of Lookin at Lucky was entitled for a breakthrough. After missing narrowly in the 2015 Kent (G3) and Saranac (G3) at three, he finished runner-up in last season’s Man o’ War (G1), United Nations (G1), and Sword Dancer Invitational (G1), the latter to champion stablemate Flintshire. Money Multiplier had not raced since his dead-heat sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita, where he was seven lengths adrift of Highland Reel. That record was superior to anything on offer here, but Castellano took no chances with a heady move.

A couple of lengths off a slow opening quarter set by Smooth Daddy in :25.34, Money Multiplier advanced into a much better tactical position through a half in :50.24. And since the favorite stays a lot farther than 1 1/8 miles, Castellano maintained his aggressive posture to challenge at the six-furlong mark in 1:13.07. Money Multiplier was simply too good from there, stamping his authority by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:47.91 on the firm course.

Irish Strait, half-brother to Haskell (G1) morning-line favorite (and fourth-placer) Irish War Cry, ran about as well as he could to grab second by the same margin from Kharafa. Smooth Daddy faded to fourth, and Thatcher Street and the ever-trailing Bolton concluded the order of finish.

Money Multiplier’s resume now reads 16-4-6-1, $773,917. Bred by Machmer Hall and Haymarket Farm in Kentucky, the dark bay was originally sold for $100,000 as a Keeneland November weanling and later fetched $260,000 at the same venue the following September.

The five-year-old ridgling is a half-brother to ill-fated Intense Holiday, the winner of the Risen Star (G2) and runner-up in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in 2014. They were produced by the Unbridled’s Song mare Intensify, herself a half-sister to multiple Grade 3-winning millionaire Crafty Shaw.