TEQUILITA DELIVERS HIGH NOTE IN RAMPART STAKES
Mon, 12/17/2018 - 14:05
The next phase of Tequilita's career has already been mapped out. She has a date this spring with champion and Darley stallion Street Sense , a mating she already proved herself worthy of by virtue of the multiple graded stakes wins on her past performances lines.
More than a year had gone by, though, since her connections got to see the 4-year-old daughter of Union Rags make her way into a winner's circle. If her time in the Dec. 15 Rampart Stakes (G3) goes down as her final start, credit the bay filly for giving her team a last impression they can savor.
Dorothy Matz's homebred filly halted an eight-race losing streak dating to the fall of 2017 when she overtook pacesetter Tapa Tapa Tapa inside the final eighth to win the $100,000 Rampart Stakes going eight furlongs Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The Hallandale Beach, Fla., track has been a hospitable setting for Tequilita in her few visits to the venue. It was the site of her first graded score, the 2017 Forward Gal Stakes (G2), and she also ran second to future grade 1 winner Salty in last year's Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
The Michael Matz trainee had been mired in a dry spell since her victory in the 2017 Charles Town Oaks (G3), a stretch that included two off-the-board efforts against grade 1 company. Coming off a runner-up effort in the seven-furlong Pumpkin Pie Stakes at Belmont Park Oct. 28, Tequilita returned to Florida and delivered a rousing swan song—if, indeed, Saturday's outing was her last.
"We're going to breed her this spring (to Street Sense), and my wife said, 'Let's finish up in Florida here,' and thank God we ended up on a good note because there was a little bit of a lull there for a while," Michael Matz said. "I think it was basically my fault. After her 3-year-old season, she acts and she trains like she could stretch out, but she just wants one turn. I think there's another race down here for her. This is her best distance, a one-turn mile. If it is her last race, then she went out on a winning note."
With Tapa Tapa Tapa taking over out of the chute to lead the opening quarter-mile in :23.26, Tequilita sat a length off the leader in second under jockey Luis Saez. The top two remained in place through a half-mile in :45.85 over the sloppy (sealed) surface, with Saez going to some right-handed urging from his partner coming off the far turn.
"She broke so sharp, she was in such a good spot I just wanted to protect it," Saez said. "I thought at the three-eighths pole, I was done, but I kept asking her, and she gave me the kick. She just took off down the stretch. I know she likes the track this way, as she's won easily on this surface before."
Once Tequilita found her kick in late stretch, she finished with authority, hitting the wire 2 1/2 lengths clear of 8-5 favorite Electric Forest as Tapa Tapa Tapa faded to third in the seven-horse field.
"She's better if she lays a little bit off the pace and then just keeps running at them," Michael Matz said. "Sometimes if she gets a lead, she'll just kind of wait a little bit."
Sent off at 5-2 odds, Tequilita covered the mile in 1:37.62 en route to earning her fifth win from 19 starts, with a bankroll of $666,100. She is out of the graded stakes-winning Mr. Greeley mare Sangrita, also a Dorothy Matz homebred.
Source: 12/17/18 Blood-Horse Daily