Dover Downs hosts Matron Stakes for three-year-olds

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Ted Black

November 10th, 2015

One week after it hosted a quartet of lucrative Matron Stakes for two-year-olds of both gaits and genders, Dover Downs will present another quartet of Matron Stakes on Thursday evening as the three-year-olds of both gaits and genders take center stage.

Throughout the summer many of the three-year-old divisions looked decided as Pinkman (3yo colt trotter), Mission Brief (3yo filly trotter) and Wiggle It Jiggleit (3yo colt pacer) looked to have their respective titles secured. Pinkman has since won the Lexington Futurity and Breeders Crown and looks home free in his division, but Mission Brief and Wiggle It Jiggleit might still have work to do.

One division that has yet to have a clear standout is the three-year-old filly pacers, so the fourth race at Dover on Thursday, the $200,000 Matron Stakes for that group could go a long way toward determining the year-end honors.

Divine Caroline (David Miller) is the likely favorite from post seven for trainer Joe Holloway, having won twice at Lexington and then taking home the Breeders Crown title. She sports a solid 7-5-6 and $575,000 bankroll from 20 starts this season and is the early favorite to garner divisional honors this year since defending horse of the year, JK She'salady, did not meet up with expectations.

But several other talented sophomore filly pacers are poised for the upset here. Mosquito Blue Chip (Daniel Dube) owns a 5-2-2 slate and $270,000 bankroll from 17 starts and draws the rail for Rene Allard. Wicked Little Minx (Brett Miller) and Bedroomconfessions both raced well at Lexington and Devil Child is in peak form right now following her sharp score in the American-National at Balmoral last Saturday night. Bettor Be Steppin (Corey Callahan) will start from post eight for Holloway and boasts a $460,000 bankroll this year from 16 outings.

Three races later in the seventh, the sophomore colt trotters will be in the spotlight in the $240,000 Matron Stakes for their division. Pinkman is not on hand and his chances of repeating as champion among his gait and generation will not be affected by the outcome of this event.

With Pinkman idle, much of the attention will certainly get focused on Crazy Wow (Tim Tetrick), who has defeated Pinkman in the past. In terms of ability, Crazy Wow is the second-best member of this division and he sports a solid 8-3-1 slate and $900,000 bankroll from 16 starts this year for trainer Ron Burke. A win here will push his seasonal earnings past the $1 million plateau.

But for those looking to upend the odds-on favorite there are plenty of options. Fashion Creditor draws the rail for trainer Tom Fanning, Southwind Mozart and Crescent Fashion represent a solid tandem for trainer Ake Svandstedt of Sebastian K S fame, while French Laundry (Brett Miller) has faced many of the sport's best sophomores all season for trainer Jimmy Takter.

Then one race later in the eighth, the $200,000 Matron Stakes for three-year-old filly trotters looks like a genuine match race between railbound Wild Honey (John Campbell) for Takter and the ultra-talented Mission Brief (Yannick Gingras) who will start from post five for Burke.

Mission Brief has won eight of 12 starts and banked nearly $840,000 this year and looked like a mortal lock cinch to garner divisional honors for a second straight year after finishing second to Pinkman in the Hambletonian and then later winning at Lexington. But after breaking stride with a three-length lead turning for home in the Breeders Crown, Mission Brief may have left the door slightly ajar for her main competition.

Wild Honey has quietly had an excellent campaign, posting a 7-5-0 slate and earnings of nearly $1.1 million. While Mission Brief opted to tackle the boys in the Hambo, Wild Honey won the Hambletonian Oaks and also won at Lexington and then benefited from Mission Brief's belated break to capture the Breeders Crown. She will get an ideal trip in this event and another upset victory over Mission Brief could sway some voters at year's end.

Then two races later in the eighth, the $200,000 Matron Stakes for three-year-old colt pacers also looms a genuine match race between two sophomores who have already earned over $1 million each this season.

Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) boasts wins in both the Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug, two of the sport's most coveted Grade I events and boasts 19 wins and a lofty $1.9 million bankroll from 23 starts this year for owner-trainer George Teague, Jr. His stranglehold on divisional honors and horse of the year was loosened, however, when second to Freaky Feet Pete, who captured the Breeders Crown and then came right back to take the American-National at Balmoral on Saturday and now sits second behind 'Wiggle' in the national Top 10 poll.

While railbound Wiggle It Jiggleit looms as the odds-on choice in the Matron, his longtime nemesis, Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick) will present a serious threat again from post four for trainer Jim King, Jr. Wakizashi Hanover defeated Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $1 million North America Cup final at Mohawk and has since chased him in other stakes without success, but he has enough early speed to make his presence known throughout the mile in this renewal.

Of course, those looking to split the likely one-two finishers in their exacta plays have ample horses to choose from. Dude's The Man (Callahan) owns a 3-3-6 slate and $650,000 bankroll from 18 starts thanks to a win in the Adios Stakes at the Meadows and a runner-up effort behind 'Wiggle' in the Meadowlands Pace. Dealt A Winner (David Miller) posted a huge upset in the Cane Pace on Hambo Day, while Artistic Major, Rock N' Roll World and Yankee Bounty have earned $800,000 collectively between them.