June 13, 2024

Regal Glory accomplishes Grade 1 mission in Matriarch

Regal Glory led throughout in the 2021 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar (© Benoit Photo)

The trainer/jockey tandem of Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz swept both stakes on Sunday’s seasonal finale at Del Mar. Regal Glory wired the $400,500 Matriarch (G1), while promising juvenile Verbal rallied in time in the $102,500 Cecil B. DeMille (G3).

Matriarch (G1)

Regal Glory, a millionaire half-sister to Japanese dirt star Cafe Pharoah, has now joined him on the Grade 1 winners’ podium. Just a half-length shy of achieving that objective last time in the First Lady (G1) at Keeneland, the Peter M. Brant colorbearer made the most of her tactical foot in a paceless Matriarch.

The 8-5 second choice was drawn on the outside in the field of six, and when Ortiz let her stride on, no rival challenged his initiative. Regal Glory set a well-measured tempo of :24.06, :48.50, and 1:12.56 on the firm turf, and with that kind of uncontested lead, she was always going to be tough to catch. The daughter of Animal Kingdom delivered the coup de grace with a final quarter in :22.77, kicking 2 1/2 lengths clear while polishing off the mile in 1:35.33.

Her constant pursuer Zofelle held second by a length from 3-2 favorite Princess Grace, who reverted to hold-up tactics after front-running didn’t suit in the Goldikova (G2). Princess Grace had a spot of trouble when trying to commence her stretch rally, but finished with interest on the inside to snatch third.

Defending champion Viadera, Regal Glory’s stablemate from the Brown barn, wound up fourth with the race shape not conducive to her. There was a 4 1/4-length gap back to longshots Fast Jet Court and Bodhicitta.

Brown’s assistant, Jose Hernandez, said that Ortiz executed the pre-race strategy.

“Just go to the lead. That’s what my boss told the jockey. That was the plan.”

That comported with Ortiz’s reading of the race.

“I thought I’d have the lead and thought I was the only real speed in the race,” Ortiz said. “The horse inside (Princess Grace) has speed, but when she used it last time she didn’t finish. So I thought I’d be out front and it worked out just that way. We got away with some easy fractions and then she had lots for the finish.”

Regal Glory was a homebred for the late Paul Pompa, who acquired her dam, Mary’s Follies, after her score in the 2009 Boiling Springs (G3). The More Than Ready mare earned her signature win in his colors, in that fall’s Mrs. Revere (G2), and became a successful producer. Her first foal was multiple Grade 3 victor Night Prowler, and even better was to come with Regal Glory and her younger half-brother by American Pharoah, Cafe Pharoah.

In Pompa’s silks, Regal Glory captured five stakes – the 2018 Stewart Manor S. as a juvenile; the 2019 Lake Placid (G2) (in a dead-heat), Lake George (G3), and Penn Oaks; and the 2020 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3). Brant purchased the chestnut from the dispersal of Pompa’s estate at Keeneland January for $925,000, and she provided a quick return by taking the Apr. 11 Plenty of Grace S. at Aqueduct.

After a troubled fourth in the June 5 Just a Game (G1), Regal Glory rebounded by landing the Aug. 8 De La Rose S. at Saratoga. The Matriarch boosted her bankroll to $1,244,884 from a 16-9-4-0 line, including placings in the Appalachian (G2) and Sweetest Chant (G3) at three and last season’s Intercontinental (G3).

Regal Glory gave Brown his fourth win in the Matriarch in the last five years. At this rate, he’s on pace to catch his mentor, the late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, who won the feature eight times at old Hollywood Park.

Cecil B. DeMille (G3)

Juddmonte homebred Verbal found his best stride late to stay unbeaten as the even-money DeMille favorite. The four-length debut hero at Belmont Park found it harder work to get past the nearly 50-1 Barsabas and 8.80-1 Cabo Spirit at Del Mar.

“He won easy last time, but that was against maidens,” Ortiz observed. “He was running against winners today, much better horses. I knew there would be speed in the race so, even though I had the outside post (9 of 10), I was able to drop over and save some ground. He came running when it counted. The boss (trainer Brown) knows how to spot a horse. He had it right today.”

The pace was furious as newly blinkered Groovy Huey sped through fractions of :22.04 and :46.10, but he was finished leaving the backstretch. The chasing Get Back Goldie picked up the baton through six furlongs in 1:11.86, until tiring in upper stretch.

By that point, the next flight of pursuers, Cabo Spirit and Barsabas, played their hand. Verbal, who had been well placed in midpack on the outside, followed them into the lane and took aim. Cabo Spirit held a slim advantage, but could not withstand the challenge on both sides, and succumbed in the shadow of the wire.

Verbal asserted by a half-length from Barsabas, who nipped Cabo Spirit by a nose. Lottery Pick closed on the inside to round out the superfecta, a neck up on the 2.30-1 Optimising. Derecho Dandy reported home sixth, followed by Khantaro d’Oro, Stotland, Get Back Goldie, and the eased Groovy Huey. Il Capitano was scratched.

By negotiating the mile in 1:36.16, Verbal advanced his scorecard to 2-for-2 with $109,500 in earnings. His Oct. 10 premiere propelled him into the picture for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), but he was on the outside looking in at the pre-entry stage, and did not enter. His lack of experience likely would have told on Future Stars Friday, judging by his scraping home here. The DeMille figures to help his learning curve.

The first U.S. graded winner for Juddmonte champion Flintshire, who is relocating to France, Verbal is a half-brother to Grade 3-placed Toledo. They were produced by the Bernardini mare Endless Chat, a half-sister to multiple Grade 3-placed stakes victor Seismic Wave, from the further family of supersire Danehill. Verbal descends from Danehill’s male line as well.