Matabari Returns in Directors

Champion filly returns to the races.

Q-Racing Journal

Balgo Racing Team and Marlyn Gonzalez’s champion Matabari makes just her second 2014 start when she goes postward in the $35,000 Z. Wayne Griffin Invitational Stakes on Sunday night at Los Alamitos.

The 400-yard Griffin has been revamped because the Champion of Champion has been cancelled. In previous years, the race was held as the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials with the horses receiving the fastest times filling any available berths in the Champion of Champions. This year it is a stand-alone stakes.

Matabari (Mr Jess Perry-Hold Me Now by Separatist) was the 2013 champion 3-year-old filly and in her sole 2014 start was a close third in the $150,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Stakes (G1) for fillies and mares back in September. She made an impressive late run at winner Significant Heart to be defeated by a neck and was in a close photo with Check N Fetch for the runner-up position before settling for third place.

The Guillermo Morales-trained mare earned her championship title last year with three wins and two third-place runs from five starts. She came through in the important races at Los Alamitos at the end of the season. She won the $901,200 Los Alamitos Super Derby (G1) and then was third to world champion Last To Fire in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1). She competed against males in each race.

Matabari, an earner of $1,336,930, was a championship contender at two when she won the $2,024,275 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity in her only 2-year-old stakes appearance.

Ed Allred’s homebred Once Over (Walk Thru Fire-Look Her Over by Check Him Out) looks for his first win since taking the $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship (RG1) in July against California-breds. The gelding was then sixth in the $100,000 Go Man Go Invitational Handicap (G1) and fourth in the $150,000 Robert L Boniface Los Alamitos Championship (G1).

Once Over, trained by Scott Willoughby, was the 7-10 favorite in the Childers and after breaking through the gate was able to reenter the gate and run a professional race. He got a tremendous start and then held Snowboundbeast safe by one-half length for his third stakes win of 2014. He had previously won the $25,000 Katella Handicap and the $16,000 Pete Wood Handicap.

Bobby Cox’s homebred The August Heat (Corona Cartel-Jess Genuine by Mr Jess Perry) has Grade 1 class, yet is still looking for his first stakes win late in his 4-year-old campaign.

When he was a 2-year-old, he finished a nose behind Matabari for second in the Two Million and last year he finished third behind Far Niente in the $232,900 Golden State Derby (G1) after getting off to a quick start.

Jaime Gomez trains The August Heat for the Directors.

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