Queen Caroline looks to defend Nellie Mae Cox title
Queen Caroline. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
Amy Moore’s multiple stakes winner Queen Caroline, unraced since testing graded-stakes company last fall, looks to return to her winning ways against fellow state-breds in the $75,000 Nellie Mae Cox.
A 5-year-old daughter of Grade 1 winner Blame, Queen Caroline won twice in eight 2017 starts, both Virginia-bred/sired stakes at Laurel. She took the Nellie Mae Cox by 1 ¼ lengths in front-running fashion, and returned to win by the same margin in the fall’s Brookmeade Stakes.
In between, the Michael Matz trainee finished third as the favorite in the William M. Backer Stakes over a yielding course at Laurel and was second in the Steve Pini Memorial at Suffolk Downs, capping her campaign running ninth in the 1 1/16-mile Athenia (G3) Oct. 28 at Belmont Park.
“She’s doing well. I wish we would have had a race before but none of the allowance races went, but she’s doing great,” Matz said. “She’s ready to run. We’ll see if she needed a race or not, but I think she’ll do well.”
Queen Caroline had two starts going into last year’s Nellie Mae Cox, including a fourth in the Stella Artois Gallorette (G3) at Pimlico. She has breezed six times since April 30 at Fair Hill for her return.
“She was ready to run a month ago. She’s ready to go. We were trying to get a prep race into her before but none of the races went so this is where we’re starting,” Matz said. “She’s pretty fresh right now. But, she’s an older mare and she knows what she’s doing so I don’t think it should be a problem.”
Alex Cintron, up for last year’s Nellie Mae Cox victory, rides again from Post 4 in the seven-horse field. Queen Caroline is the 8-5 morning line favorite.
Among Queen Caroline’s rivals will be the first three horses that finished behind her last year – Armoire, Complete St. and Secret Or Not. Armoire ran second in all three Virginia-bred/sired stakes in 2017, beaten less than three lengths combined, and is unraced since the Brookmeade.
Complete St., winner of the 2015 Brookmeade, has gone winless in her last 13 starts but was second in the 2016 Brookmeade and 1 ¼ lengths behind runner-up Armoire in last year’s Nellie Mae Cox. Secret Or Not is 0-for-2 this year, most recently third in a one-mile, 70-yard optional claiming allowance May 31 at Delaware Park.
Also entered are Armoire’s stablemate Well Blessed, making her stakes debut; 120-pound topweight Drop Dead Red, winner of the off-the-turf Politely Stakes May 19 at Monmouth Park; and Zenbennie.