Tag Archives: Federico Mata

Opening day 2011 at Mount Pleasant Meadows

Opening day at Mount Pleasant Meadows was the climax of a roller coaster year for the central Michigan track. Porsche Pink is led to the winner's circle with Nate Alcala aboard.

On the track’s Aug. 1 closing day last year, the idea of Mount Pleasant Meadows hosting Michigan’s lone Thoroughbred meet seemed outlandish.

A lot can happen in a year.

The central Michigan racetrack’s July 24 opening day was last stop of a roller coaster offseason that included the shuttering of Pinnacle Race Course and months of “Will they? Won’t they?” tension as the state, the track and the horsemen all worked to get on the same page.

The pressure went down to the wire, as the Michigan Gaming Control Board balked on approving Mount Pleasant’s live meet until just days before it was scheduled to commence. Once the paperwork got signed, the gears got turning – and with little time to spare, they got turning fast.

Since Mount Pleasant called it a meet last year, I have been to more racetracks around the country than I can count on two hands. At no point was I more genuinely excited for a day of racing than I was for this year’s opening day.

By the time the horses came over for the first race, I could hardly contain my giddiness, and it lasted throughout the card. The tension that built up with every event that made it look like the place would never host another race had finally come uncoiled. This feeling could have also been due in no small part to mild dehydration, but it was still pretty amazing, nonetheless.

I have been watching and playing the races at Mount Pleasant for years, but for the first time since I first picked up a program, I had absolutely no idea how the races were going to shake out. Would the native horses and riders have a home-track advantage until the new ones figured out the four furlong bullring? Would class prevail regardless of the racing surface? Would horses and bloodlines that succeeded at five-furlong Great Lakes Downs recapture the magic? Would the horses bred for Pinnacle be able to adapt? As it turns out, the answer for just about all of these questions was “yes.” Every bettor on the grounds was on a level playing field, and it was an exciting time.

The best thing about opening day was, without a doubt, getting to see everyone in the same place – Thoroughbred people, Quarter Horse people, Arabian people and other fellow racing enthusiasts. Mount Pleasant is a very communal track, and that spirit was not lost on its new residents. I was glad to see this.

The crowd was robust – easily double the average attendance, if not more. I have never been good at eyeball estimating a crowd, so whenever I want to gauge the attendance at Mount Pleasant, I look out at the parking lot. On a normal day, the cars usually make two rows. On this day, they made four very long rows. It was kind of beautiful.

But enough talk, lets look at some pictures…

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Valley Loot regains form in older females Sire Stakes

After a year with more downs than ups, Valley Loot reminded fans why she is the state’s defending three-time horse of the year with a hard-fought win in Saturday’s $50,000 Michigan Sire Stakes for older fillies and mares, an astounding fourth straight victory for the mare in the series of races.

The six-year-old Demaloot Demashoot mare broke alertly and battled Guns And Giggles for the lead coming out the gate. She settled back to third behind Guns And Giggles and She Could Be Good as the field made its first pass under the wire. Guns And Giggles stayed a couple paths off the rail down the straightaway and entered the first turn with a length advantage. The top three were each separated by about a length heading into the backstretch in the same order as they came into the turn. The two trailers began to draw closer to Guns And Giggles on the backetretch, with Valley Loot making the boldest bid three wide.

As the field entered the final turn, Valley Loot had drawn even with Guns And Giggles, while Baba Booyah moved up from the second flight to challenge She Could Be Good for third. Valley Loot quickly disposed of the pacesetter, but was then faced with a rapidly gaining Baba Booyah on her outside. The defending champion led her challenger by a half length at the top of the stretch, and under heavy urging by jockey Federico Mata, began to pull away. Baba Booyah attempted to re-rally at the sixteenth pole but could not reach the winner before the wire.

Valley Loot finished a half length ahead of Baba Booyah for her first win of 2010. Secret Candy improved her position late to finish third, five lengths behind the runner-up.

Valley Loot completed the mile and one eighth race in 1:56.23 over a fast dirt surface. She was the field’s second choice at odds of 2.40-to-one.

Bred in Michigan by Marilyn McMaster, Valley Loot is owned by Lisa Campbell and trained by Ronald Allen, Sr.. Both Campbell and jockey Mata finished the day with three wins in the six Sire Stakes races.

With her fourth Sire Stakes win in five starts in the series, Valley Loot improved her career record to 14 wins from 32 starts. Her career earnings now total $584,885.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

1 – Valley Loot (Federico Mata) 6.80 / 3.80 / 2.40
7 – Baba Booyah (Jeffrey Skerrett) 5.00 / 3.40
8 – Secret Candy (Ronald Allen, Jr.) 6.20

One Mile and One Eighth
Time: 1:56.23


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Charlies Fire outlasts rivals in soph fillies Sire Stakes

Charlies Fire kept a good day going for owner Lisa Campbell and jockey Federico Mata with a front-running score in the three-year-old fillies division of Saturday’s $50,000 Michigan Sire Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The Fire Blitz filly shot to the front on the rail and battled with Cute Creation and De La Crem for the lead as the field passed under the wire for the first time. Charlies Fire led by a length heading into the first turn with Cute Creation on her outside hip, but the leader quickly put several lengths between herself and her foe through the bend. The margin between first and second was three lengths as the field entered the backstretch.

Charlies Fire kept a multiple length cushion between herself and the rest of the pack across the backstretch that dwindled to about a length and a half heading into the final turn. Cute Creation and Fully Exposed continued to chase Charlies Fire through the bend, while Run with Rachel was in pursuit on the rail. Charlies Fire was flanked on the hips by Run With Rachel on the inside and Cute Creation on the outside at the top of the stretch, but responded to urging by jockey Federico Mata and repelled her challengers. She continued to power down the stretch under Mata’s steady right hand whip, as Run With Rachel tried in vain to make up the distance.

Charlies Fire won the Sire Stakes by a length and a half. Run With Rachel finished second, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Cute Creation.

The final time for the mile and one sixteenth race was 1:49.58 over a fast dirt track. She was the race’s post time favorite at odds of 1.90-to-one.

Charlies Fire was bred in Michigan Ronald Allen, Sr. and Felica Allen. She is owned by Lisa Campbell and trained by Patrick White.

The Sire Stakes was Charlies Fire’s third win from four starts, and her first blacktype score. Her lifetime earnings now total $46,190.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

1 – Charlies Fire (Federico Mata) 5.80 / 5.40 / 3.00
5 – Run with Rachel (Ricardo Barrios) 9.00 / 4.00
4 – Cute Creation (Jorge Collazo, Jr.) 4.20

One Mile and One Sixteenth
Time:  1:49.58

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Noequal draws off in juvenile males Sire Stakes

Last year’s Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association Yearling Sale topper Noequal delivered on his high bid status with a driving win in Saturday’s $50,000 Michigan Sire Stakes for two-year-old colts and geldings.

The Equality gelding was forwardly placed out of the gate and held a slim margin between rivals in the race’s early goings. As the field made its way across the backstretch, Noequal led by a half length over Pooling Factor on the inside and Buy The Law and Gainon not far behind on the outside. Pooling Factor drew even with Noequal heading into the turn and took a slim lead as they entered the bend. The pair dueled throughout the turn, and was pressured from behind by post time favorite Duncan.

Noequal came back to even terms with Pooling Factor at the top of the stretch and battled with that rival until pulling away at the eighth pole. He continued to carry on past his foe and drove to the wire under left-handed urging from jockey Federico Mata to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Duncan overcame an awkward start to finish second, a neck ahead of Pooling Factor.

Noequal completed the six furlong race in 1:14.83 over a fast dirt surface. He was the betting public’s second choice at odds of 2.30-to-one.

Bred in Michigan by Opportunity Lane, Noequal was saddled by Ronald Allen, Sr. for owner Daniel McCarthy. The Sire Stakes was the gelding’s first victory from three career starts for earnings of $37,400.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

3 – Noequal (Federico Mata) 6.60 / 3.40 / 3.00
2 – Duncan (Tommy Molina) 6.20 / 5.20
1 – Pooling Factor (Ronald Allen, Jr.) 7.60

Six Furlongs
Time: 1:14.83

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Four Pinnacle jockeys fail breathalyzer, suspended

The Daily Racing Form reports four jockeys at Pinnacle Race Course have been suspended for ten calendar days after failing a breathalyzer test prior to Sunday’s card.

Tommy Molina, Federico Mata, Jeffrey Skerrett, and Wade Rini all registered at least a blood alcohol content of 0.05 per cent, according to Michigan stewards Bob Coberley, Daryl Parker and Richard Garrison. Parker said the tolerance level for riding is less than the 0.08 per cent limit for impaired driving. All of the riders were detained during the remainder of the card while they were given hearings that led to suspensions of 10 calendar days each, which began on Sunday.

Coberley said that Molina had been arrested at some point after Saturday’s card for driving under the influence, and that required his testing, which prompted the entire room to be tested

– C.A Shoemaker, Daily Racing Form

The article states the tests were conducted before Sunday’s races, which led to Pinnacle’s first race being delayed 20 minutes as horsemen worked to find new riders. Molina was scheduled for seven mounts on Sunday. Mata and Rini were booked to ride nine races, while Skerrett had six mounts.

Molina, Mata and Skerrett are currently Pinnacle’s three leading riders by wins. Rini is ranked 18th.

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Romeo Again rallies in Michigan Breeders’ Cup Handicap

Romeo Again reeled in his rivals down the stretch to win Saturday’s $20,000 Michigan Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

The Secret Romeo gelding was unhurried on the rail by jockey Federico Mata as post time favorite Meadow Wise took the early lead, followed closely by Perfect Start. Meadow Wise entered the turn with about a length over Perfect Start. The pair opened up three lengths on third place Romeo Again, but set a leisurely opening half mile at :50.19 seconds. Meadow Wise held off Perfect Start across the backstretch, but the Perfect Start took to the rail and drew even with the leader heading into the final turn, four lengths ahead of Romeo Again in third.

Perfect Start and Meadow Wise dueled throughout the bend and entered the top of the stretch neck and neck. Meanwhile, Romeo Again had chipped away from his margin behind the lead duo and prepared to make a three-wide move on the outside. Meadow Wise, out of gas, faded quickly down the stretch, leaving Perfect Start and a rapidly gaining Romeo Again to battle for the last 100 yards. Under left-handed urging from Mata, Romeo Again got up in the final strides to beat Perfect Start by a half length. Bishop Casey made a late bid for third place.

Romeo Again completed the one mile race in 1:48.06 on a fast dirt surface. He left the gates as the longest price in the field at odds of 4.90-to-one.

Romeo Again was homebred in Michigan by Felicia Campbell/Campbell Stables and also owned by II B’s Thoroughbred. He was saddled by Patrick White.

With the win in Saturday’s race, Romeo Again improved his career record to four wins from 16 career starts, including two wins in stakes company. His earnings now total $75,193.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

2 – Romeo Again (Federico Mata) 11.80 / 6.20
3 – Perfect Start (Alexis Ortiz) 6.40
1 – Bishop Casey (Tommy Molina)

One Mile
Time: 1:48.06


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Hour By Hour wires field in Lansing Stakes

Hour By Hour struck the first blow on the road to defending his co-title as the best male of his Michigan-bred crop with a front-running score in Saturday’s $50,000 Lansing Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The Elusive Hour colt fired immediately and took command on the outside in the race’s opening strides. He kept a one-length cushion as he worked his way to the rail, while Secrets Only and post time favorite Prince of Paulie battled to keep chase. Hour By Hour maintained his lead heading into the final turn while Prince of Paulie fell off the pace and was replaced by a gaining calvary charge.

Secrets Only whittled away at Hour By Hour’s lead throughout the turn and came to even terms heading into the stretch. His charge was quickly repelled by Hour By Hour, who responded to urging by jockey Federico Mata to regain his advantage and power away from his rival. Under Mata’s right hand whip, Hour By Hour continued to add to his lead as he drove to the wire to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Secrets Only carried on to finish second, two lengths ahead of a rail-running Meadow Magic.

Hour By Hour completed the six furlong race in 1:11.67 over a fast track, just two tenths of a second off the track record of 1:11.40, set by Funky Pirate on September 16, 2008. He was the field’s sixth choice at odds of 9.40-to-one.

Hour By Hour was homebred in Michigan by Valerie Irvine and is also owned by Laura Jackson. He is trained by James Jackson. With the win, Hour By Hour improved his career record to three wins from five starts. Two of those wins have come in stakes company. His career earnings now total $72,940.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

11 – Hour By Hour (Federico Mata) 20.80 / 6.80 / 5.60
5 – Secrets Only (Jeffrey Skerrett) 7.40 / 5.40
1 – Meadow Magic (Tommy Molina) 4.00

Six Furlongs
Time: 1:11.67

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Valley Loot claims third MTOBA Horse of the Year title

Valley Loot won or placed in stakes races at three tracks on her way to being named MTOBA's 2009 Horse of the Year.

For the third straight year, Michigan champion Valley Loot was named Horse of the Year by the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association at its year-end awards banquet.

The five-year-old Demaloot Demashoot mare tallied two wins from nine starts during her 2009 campaign for earnings of $112,875.

Valley Loot notched stakes wins in the June 16 Golden Sylvia Handicap at Mountaineer and the Older Filly and Mare division of the Oct. 3 Sire Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course. She finished second in the Farer Belle Lee Handicap at Pinnacle and third in the Larkspur Handicap at Pinnacle, the Autumn Leaves Stakes at Mountaineer and the Windward Stakes at Presque Isle Downs.

Valley Loot is owned by Felicia Campbell and trained by Ronald Allen, Sr.. She was bred in Michigan by Marilyn McMaster. Her regular rider was Federico Mata.

For more information on the winners from the MTOBA Awards Banquet and other happenings during the event, check out my writeup on the MTOBA website.

In related news, I recently accepted a gig writing news updates for the MTOBA website, so if I write anything exciting over there, I’ll post a link to it. Don’t worry, I assure you the new venture will not affect the quality, quantity or objectivity of the content on this site. To quote my favorite recurring character from In Living Color, “Homey don’t play dat.”

As always, I enjoyed myself at the awards banquet. Catching up with people and making new connections in the industry is always a good time.

The silent auction is often my source of reading material for the following year, and there is always some cool memorabilia to bid on. I chipped in a few items myself by donating a few framed photos I took of the scenery at Keeneland Race Course and one I took of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in the paddock prior to the 2008 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Both sold pretty well.

My haul was not as visually impressive as in previous years (I’ve needed a good sized box to carry everything out on more than one occasion), but I still walked out with some goodies. I snagged a set of clubhouse passes to Arlington Park for next year’s meet, so look for a nice recap from the not-so-cheap seats sometime this summer.

In a move to expand my knowledge of the world of horse racing, I bought a book on harness racing – “Harnessing Winners” by Dave Brower. There were also a few Christmas presents in the pile, but to reveal what they were would compromise their surprise value. I’m sure you understand.

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Mata wins three in Michigan Sire Stakes

The following Sire Stakes recaps are presented without shots of the winning horse and rider courtesy of Sunlight Photography, Pinnacle’s track photographers who threatened to have my camera taken away if I photographed anything except the races themselves, which I was “allowed” to do. All of this happened despite having obtained a media photo credential from track management.

But enough about my day, let’s talk about some races…

Bipolar Express wins stretch battle in Classic

Bipolar Express (4) duels to the wire with Demagoguery (7) and Hot Chili (1, inside) to win the Michigan Sires Classic at Pinnacle Race Course.

The streak is dead. Long live the streak.

After four years of Sire Stakes consistency by Meadow Vespers, Bipolar Express began a run of his own by winning his second straight October Classic race in Saturday’s $50,000 Michigan Sires Classic at Pinnacle Race Course.

The four-year-old Equality gelding broke with the front pack and battled for the early lead with Hot Chili and Mt. Factor before cooling off and taking a stalking position as the field headed into the first turn. Hot Chili dueled from the rail with Mt. Factor, who maintained a small advantage through the turn and across the first half of the backstretch. Bipolar Express sat two lengths behind the lead duo and began to make his move to on the outside with about five furlongs to go.

Bipolar Express gained the advantage heading into the final turn as Mt. Factor began to fall off the pace. As Bipolar Express and Hot Chili battled into the stretch, Demegoguery also began to gain ground. The lead pair traded bobs of the head throughout the stretch with Demagogurey chipping away on the outside. In the final strides, Bipolar Express put a head in front to prevail under jockey T.D. Houghton. Hot Chili finished a neck ahead of Demagoguery  for the runner-up money.

Bipolar Express stopped the clock in the 1 1/8 mile race with a time of 1:54.21 on a fast track. He left the gates as the second choice of 1.60-to-one. Post time favorite Meadow Vespers had his usual ground saving trip, but came up empty in the stretch.

Bred in Michigan by Gene and Phyllis Gilmore, Bipolar Express is owned by Winning Stables, Inc. and trained by Gerald Bennett. The Sire Stakes victory completes a successful re-claim by Bennett, who lost Bipolar Express to trainer Scott Lake for a $25,000 tag two races ago at Presque Isle Downs. Bennett claimed his charge back in the next race for $35,000

With the win, Bipolar Express improved his career record to seven wins from 27 starts. The race was also his second stakes win, after winning last year’s three-year-old Sire Stakes at Pinnacle. His career earnings now total $209,069.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

4 – Bipolar Express (T.D. Houghton) 5.20 / 3.60 / 3.20
1 – Hot Chili (Federico Mata) 6.80 / 5.60
7 – Demagoguery (Godofredo Laurente) 5.60

1 1/8 Miles
Time: 1:54.21

To view the rest of the day’s Sire Stakes action, click the link below.

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Juvenile favorites hold, veterans upset in Michigan Breeders Championships

Hustle Now hustles in the stretch to win Sickle’s Image Stakes


Hustle Now (7) pulls away from Top Touch (1) to prevail in the Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

Hustle Now took charge at the top of the stretch and held off the begrudging early leader to take Saturday’s $50,000 Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The two-year-old Creative filly watched from third on the outside hip of Q Ginger Snap as Top Touch shot to the lead from the inside post. Top Touch held a 1 1/4 length advantage after the first quarter mile as Hustle Now moved into contention. That advantage was whittled down to a half length as the lead duo entered the turn. Hustle Now continued to close the gap on the outside and entered the stretch with a head in front.

Top Touch refused to waver after being passed and continued to pressure the leader throughout the stretch, but she could not regain her advantage. Hustle Now began to separate from her rival in the final furlong and crossed the finish 1 1/4 lengths in front under a right hand whip by Angel Stanley. Creative Lite turned in a ground saving third place effort 5 1/2 lengths behind Top Touch.

Hustle Now completed the six furlong race in 1:14.13 over a fast surface. She was the second choice at two-to-one behind post time favorite Top Touch.

Homebred in Michigan by Sheffield Farms, Hustle Now is conditioned by Larry Uelmen. Hustle Now improved her career record to two wins from three starts. The Farer Belle Lee was Hustle Now’s first stakes victory. Her career earnings now total $40,208.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

7 – Hustle Now (Angel Stanley) 6.00 / 3.40 / 3.60
1 – Top Touch (Federico Mata) 3.80 / 3.40
2  – Creative Lite (Alexis Ortiz) 5.20

Six Furlongs
Time: 1:14.13


Your winner, Hustle Now; Angel Stanley, up.

Recaps of rest of Saturday’s stakes action from Pinnacle Race Course can be found behind the jump. Just click the link below to see more.

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