Test Stakes 2022 Entries: Cox's Matareya runs strong on streak

Two-time Eclipse Champion trainer Brad Cox has an ace up his sleeve for this year's Test Stakes ... see who it is, in this Horse-by-Horse Guide, along with the rest of the field!
Two-time Eclipse Champion trainer Brad Cox has an ace up his sleeve for this year's Test Stakes ... see who it is, in this Horse-by-Horse Guide, along with the rest of the field!

Race 9: 7F (Dirt), Test Stakes, Purse $500k, 3F (Saturday)

The fabulous 3-yr-old fillies take the stage at Saratoga in what promises to be another thrilling Test Stakes. This Grade 1 should once again live up to expectations, as this year’s group contests the 7-furlong distance. Blazing down the backstretch, the horse that makes the lead isn’t always the one who gets to the winner’s circle. Rating close though can make a major difference close to the wire. American Gal in ’17 … Separationofpowers the following year … and Bella Sofia in ’21 … all won from off-the-pace. Jockeys Jose Ortiz and Luiz Saez knew how to get their mounts into position, and asked the question when it counted … A G1 is on the line, so let’s find out about this field!


#1 Matareya (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: B. Cox):

Godolphin’s homebred has done little wrong for Brad Cox in 2022 … nope … hasn’t lost a race in 4 tries … Coming into the Test, it is going to be just that … Is this filly by Pioneerof the Nile for real or has she faced a series of paltry crowds? I would tend to motion towards the former, since we are talking about the 2-time Eclipse-winning trainer. She reminds me so much of Monomoy Girl, and do not be surprised if she comes to Saratoga and declares victory. Flavien Prat understands her tendencies by now, and if she makes the lead … she will be tough to catch. If only Echo Zulu had not gotten hurt in the post parade at Belmont just before the Acorn S. (G1) … it would have made the case even stronger if she had beaten the Asmussen trainee … still … deserving favorite in here …

Grade: A


#2 Sterling Silver (Jky: T. McCarthy/Trn: T. Albertrani):

A daughter of Cupid, trainer Tom Albertrani has his runner ready for another G1 … test … right? She has a couple of solid performance to her credit, and 2 “Non-G” scores should be noted. However, she was clearly up against the wall in the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont last time out, and even though she closed for a distant 3rd, she is going to have to reach much deeper to keep up with Cox’s favorite. Her presence in the Grade 1 Ashland S. (G1) is noted, because when you run against Nest, you are really outmatched. Still, there is probably too much for the able-bodied Trevor McCarthy to do.

Grade: C+


#3 Elm Drive (Jky: M. Franco/Trn: M. Nevin):

The good folks at Little Red Feather Racing transferred their Phil D’Amato trainee to Michelle Nevin in New York. This happens in racing … She takes over a nice-looking daughter of Mohaymen that won in SoCal as a 2-yr-old. The G2 Sorrento S. was a highlight when she bested Todd Fincher’s Smash Ticket. That filly, now in the care of Rob Atras, recently won at The Spa. D’Amato’s filly turned the page in ’22, but she failed to seal the deal in her 2nd start in a G2 at Los Al. It is going to be interesting to see how she fits in here, but I would not negate her fitness. Manny Franco has the chore of figuring out what to do with her, once she exits the gate. Maybe trying to wrestle the lead away from the frontrunners is the play? Wait and see …

Grade: B-


#4 Wish You Well (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: G. Weaver):

The most inexperienced runner in this field is also the most-costly … to the tune of $550k … A daughter of American Freedom, trainer George Weaver is going to take a shot with his young filly against Grade 1 Co. She only has a couple of races under her saddle, but based on her recent works, she looks fast. Breaking her maiden with Tyler Gaffalione aboard at Gulfstream Park, she posted quite a fig. However, when she tried OC80kn1x types at Churchill Downs, she was severely overmatched. Maybe it wasn’t her day? Whatever the case, she is not going to get much relief here. Gaffalione is an expert rider with “big-game” experience, but this is going to take a major effort. Maybe too much of an ask …

Grade: B


#5 November Rein (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: K. Breen):

We know that the Street Boss bloodline loves to produce its share of sprinters. Kelly Breen’s filly is a state bred with all kinds of experience. Yet, she has not seen this kind of company. It is a plus that he sent her into open ALLW Co. last time out. She won by just a head with Joel Rosario aboard. Now, she gets Irad Ortiz, and that is hardly a downgrade. It will be interesting to see if she is heard from late in the race … I am not willing to totally write her off … she has talent. What a boss!

Grade: B+


#6 Hot Peppers (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: R. Rodriguez):

To say that the barn of Rudy Rodriguez is cold would be a major understatement. The NYRA-based conditioner cannot seem to get a win. He is going to put one of his prize barn members into this G1 with the hope of getting off the proverbial “duck.” The 3-yr-old by Khozan was awfully good in the Victory Ride S. (G3) at Belmont on 9 July. With Luis Saez in the irons, he took her all the way to the wire. She is going to have to be quick in this race, and if she cannot make the lead, the race could well be over for her before it even gets going.

Grade: B-


#7 Chi Town Lady (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: W. Ward):

If you are familiar with the owner and breeder, Castleton Lyons, then you might want to take notice of this daughter of Verrazano. Those folks do it “right,” and they have entrusted their 3-yr-old filly to one of the best trainers in the history of Kentucky racing—Wesley Ward. He knows how to get young runners ready to fire, and you can bet that this one is going to come hard out of the gates. I don’t think she has reached her potential in this regard, and I am willing to bet that this race could be her “moment.” Joel Rosario gets the call for the 1st time, and we all know how well he has been riding at the Meet. This is going to be my sleeper pick … she’s better than her record reflects …

Grade: B+


Join us Saturday for all of our Saratoga selections! Should be a great set of races from The Spa! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!