Longtime TVG racing analyst Kurt Hoover was brought to tears after the filly ZUZANNA, whom he claimed with friends for $8,000 a year ago won the Grade 3 Red Carpet Stakes on Nov. 30.
Zuzanna, the longest shot in the field of older fillies and mares at 23-1, climaxed her rise to prominence with a surprise victory in the turf stakes race at the marathon distance of a mile and three-eighths.
Providing jockey Paco Lopez with his second stakes success of the afternoon, Zuzanna surged to the lead in the stretch and then held off the late challenge of 17-1 outsider Curlin’s Journey to win by a length and one-half in 2:16.29 over a “good” Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
Zuzanna, a daughter of Wilburn, was claimed by trainer Bob Hess at Los Alamitos on behalf of an ownership group including Brian Ferguson, Kurt Hoover and Jeffrey Lambert. Sidelined for several months while recovering from throat surgery, the five-year-old mare returned to action and now has won four of nine starts for her new owners. For her career, she has a record of nine victories in 32 outings and first prize of $60,000 Saturday increased her total earnings to $271,751.
Third was Vibrance, a head behind Curlin’s Journey and a nose in front of fourth-place Strike At Dawn in the field of seven distaff runners. Withdrawn from the race was morning line favorite Siberian Iris.
In the mutuels, Zuzanna paid $48, $15.80 and $7. Curlin’s Journey returned $13.80 and $6.40, while Vibrance paid $5.40 to show.
Gary Barber’s Got Stormy, the 7-5 favorite ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, strengthened her claim to year-end honors as the top female runner over grass in 2019 with an authoritative victory in the featured Grade I $300,000 Matriarch Stakes on Sunday, closing day of Del Mar’s fall Bing Crosby season.
The win gives the filly a solid chance to be in the mix for an Eclipse Award for Champion Female Turf horse.
Got Stormy was edged by Sam-Son Farms’ EL TORMENTA in the Woodbine Mile (Grade 1) in September and then second to Uni in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Santa Anita.
Always well-positioned in mid-pack, Got Stormy moved powerfully into contention on the far turn, came to the outside in the stretch to assume command from Juliet Foxtrot and wasn’t seriously threatened by the fast-closing Daddy Is a Legend, winning by three-quarters of a length.
Got Stormy’s time of 1:34.24 was the fastest for the Matriarch Stakes since it was first run at Del Mar in 2014. The race previously was held at Hollywood Park.
Daddy Is a Legend, ridden by Manny Franco, was three-quarters of a length in front of third-place Juliet Foxtrot, with Toinette fourth in the field of eleven fillies and mares.
Got Stormy, a four-year-old daughter of Get Stormy trained by Mark Casse, registered her eighth success in 18 starts and first prize of $180,000 pushed her earnings to $1,430,578. She came into the Matriarch from a second-place to Uni in the Breeders’ Cup Mile a month ago.
Got Stormy returned $4.80, $3.20 and $2.40. Daddy Is a Legend paid $5.60 and $3.60, while Juliet Foxtrot returned $3.60 to show.