Tequilita drinks up Smart Halo win
El Areeb impressed in winning the James F. Lewis, III Stakes. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Kept in the clear on the outside down the backstretch, Dorothy Matz’s homebred Tequilita took command at the head of the lane and held off late runs from Star Super and Candycoated Dame to earn her first stakes triumph in the $100,000 Smart Halo.
Michael Matz trains Tequilita for his wife, and also trained the 2-year-old filly’s Grade1-winning sire Union Rags and Grade 2-winning mare Sangrita. The even-money favorite in a field of eight, Tequilita ($4) ran six furlongs in 1:12.03.
“My wife has had a little bit of a downtime with her horses and this is a great comeback for her, so she’s very happy,” Matz said. “This is a very nice filly, and we felt very confident coming into the race today. She ran exactly as we thought she would.”
Jockey Alex Cintron, back in action after missing last weekend with a fractured toe, let Tequilita get into a rhythm three wide after breaking from Post 9 as Toby Girl and Riley’s Choice alternated through a quarter-mile in 22.77 seconds and a half in 46.67.
Cintron set Tequilita down for the stretch drive after straightening for home, and she had plenty left as Star Super edged Candycoated Dame by a neck for second. Squan’s Kingdom came on late for fourth.
“She spun her wheels a little bit in the first few jumps,” Cintron said. “It was actually the best thing that could happen as that was our plan all along, to let them go early. She likes to run at horses. She is definitely more relaxed when she does not go to the lead early. Today she used her one big run.”
The Smart Halo was the fifth career start for Tequilita, who broke her maiden by 1 ½ lengths last time Oct. 22 at Keeneland after running second in back-to-back races including Sept. 17 behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Dancing Rags.