Dover, DE — Twelve days removed from their Breeders Crown triumphs, 3-year-old fillies Bella Bellini and Test Of Faith delivered successful encore performances in their respective Matron Stakes divisions, contested Thursday (Nov. 11) at Dover Downs.
In the $148,550 Matron for sophomore trotting fillies, Bella Bellini ($2.40) sat patiently in midfield while Moni For Lindy and You Ato Dream disputed the lead through a :56 opening half. Dexter Dunn cut the daughter of Bar Hopping loose up the backstretch, and she stormed to the lead with :26.4 third-quarter speed before vaulting clear by six lengths at the end of her 1:52.2 mile, her second-fastest winning mile to date. You Ato Dream saved second from a failing pocket, narrowly holding off a late bid from Iteration.
Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman, who won three of this year’s eight Matron Stakes, trains the David McDuffee homebred, whose 11 wins this season also included the Hambletonian Oaks and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Final.
Test Of Faith ($2.60) used similar first-over tactics to claim victory in the $129,000 Matron for 3-year-old pacing fillies, but she had her hooves full with a two-pronged challenge from Ron Burke trainees Blue Diamond Eyes and Scarlett Hanover before sealing a 1:49.1 win. David Miller pointed the daughter of Art Major first-over out of third upon reaching the backstretch, and she worked forward to grind down pacesetter Scarlett Hanover beyond three-quarters in 1:21.2 before fending off Blue Diamond Eyes by a half length.
Brett Pelling trains the 22-time winner, whose current five-race win streak includes the Glen Garnsey Memorial, Courageous Lady and Breeders Crown, for Melvin Segal, the Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Eddie Gran.
After a game defeat to Perfect Sting in last month’s Breeders Crown, Don Tiger’s homebred Charlie May ($4.00) landed himself back in the win column, narrowly holding off a sustained charge from Lou’s Pearlman to win the $164,750 Matron for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings in 1:49.2. The son of McArdle sprinted to a clear lead from post seven, rated a :56.2 first half in line to Brett Miller, and then gave his all to parry Lou’s Pearlman through a :53 back-half duel. Abuckabett Hanover lifted off second-over cover to finish third, missing by just a half length.
Steve Carter trains Charlie May, now a 17-time winner.
While the aforementioned trio of Matron winners all have cemented their places on Millionaires’ Row, the 3-year-old colt trot winner did so in only his fourth ever sojourn outside of Indiana. Recent Indiana Sires Stakes champion Swingforthefences ($6.40) lived up to his name in a big way, belting a home run in the $156,300 Matron for his division and out-sprinting Incommunicado to the winning post in 1:52.2.
The son of Swan For All, who came into the Matron on a five-race winning streak, cleared from post six in line to Peter Wrenn, controlled splits of :27, :56.3 and 1:24.1, and braced for Incommunicado’s challenge from the pocket nearing the top of the stretch. Swingforthefences did well to hold his ground in a :28 stretch duel, prevailing by three-quarters of a length over Incommunicado. In Range, the 6-5 favorite, lifted around stalled cover to finish third.
The Melanie Wrenn-trained Swingforthefences gave co-owner David McDuffee a Matron double. L&L Devisser LLC is the other partner in the 14-time winner.