Off Limits, Rosario Win Matriarch Stakes
Off Limits (IRE) © Benoit Photo
Martin S. Schwartz’s Irish-bred Off Limits, with Joel Rosario in the saddle, charged from last place to rally in the stretch and win the $300,000 Matriarch Stakes, Grade I feature on closing-day of Del Mar’s fall racing season Sunday.
The Chad Brown-trained five-year-old mare, entering the one-mile grass race with a three-race victory streak, surged along the rail entering the stretch under Rosario, darted between horses in midstretch and wore down 12-1 longshot Hawksmoor approaching the wire to win by a length.
Insta Erma was third, a half-length behind Hawksmoor and three-quarters of a length in front of fourth-place Cambodia, the 5-2 favorite. Withdrawn from the line-up was Mrs McDougal.
Off Limits, a daughter of Mastercraftsman, went postward at 9-2 and returned $11.20, $5.80 and $4.80 after her seventh win in 17 starts. Prior to the Matriarch, she had won the Noble Damsel and Athenia at Belmont Park. First money of $180,000 increased her career earnings to $634,680.
Second-place Hawksmoor, also bred in Ireland, ran gamely under Julien Leparoux and returned $11.80 and $9.20 to her backers. Insta Erma paid $7.80 to show.
Time for the one mile on turf was 1:34.37, a stakes record. The previous standard was 1:35.16, co-owned by Miss Temple City, the 2016 winner, and Stormy Lucy, who won the 2015 Matriarch.
JOEL ROSARIO (Off Limits, winner) – “Perfect trip; just what we wanted. She’s got that great turn of foot. That’s what makes her so special. And she wants to win. When she sees horses in front of her, she wants to go get them. I love it here (at Del Mar). I’ve got lots of good memories from my years here (steadily between 2008 and 2011). I won a lot of good races. It’s a place where I feel comfortable.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX (Hawksmoor, second) – “We had a good trip and she ran well. When I asked her, she gave it to me. We just couldn’t match the winner today.”
COREY NAKATANI (Insta Erma, third) – “I got her to relax and she was in a nice rhythm. She finished well and ran a big race. She’s a good one.”
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Cambodia, fourth) – “We were in tight on that first turn. They had me surrounded. But she ran well today; gave it a good try.”
JOSE HERNANDEZ, assistant to Chad Brown (Off Limits, winner) – “I think it was the right place to be coming from off the pace with this mare. The other (Brown) filly (Rubilinda), I liked very well, but maybe she didn’t handle the track as well. They’re both very nice horses. I talked to (Chad) Brown, but he just said, ‘Get over there and win the race,’ that’s it. He talked to the jockey before the race. I’ve saddled many (stakes winners) for Mr. Brown. I won the Arlington Million, twice, and the Beverly D.”
FRACTIONS: :23.40 :47.09 1:11.12 1:22.75 1:34.37
(The final time is a Del Mar stakes record in the Matriarch.)
The stakes win was second of the meet for rider Rosario and his second in the Matriarch (La Tia, 2014). He now has 23 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the third of the meet (including two in the Breeders’ Cup) for trainer Brown, but his first in the Matriarch. He now has four stakes wins at Del Mar, all in Grade I races.
The winning owner, Martin Schwartz, is from Gulfstream, FL.