The Filly and Mare Long–Turf Division returns to the MATCH Series schedule since the early 2000s, and trainer Graham Motion, who won the division with Sam Huff’s Bursting Forth in 1998, holds a strong hand in the $100,000 Dahlia Stakes at Laurel Park April 20.
Motion entered Glenangus Farm’s Maryland homebred filly Peach of a Gal, who is one-for-one on the Laurel turf course, and Madaket Stables, ERJ Racing, Elayne Stable 5 and Bouchey Thoroughbred Ventures Secret Message, who won a grade III stakes and placed in a grade II stakes in 2018.
Patricia Moseley’s La Moneda, trained by Thomas Morley, hasn’t raced since last December but has six wins and a second in eight starts on grass. She was a dominant force in New York-bred stakes and allowance races in 2018 and has a consistent series of works leading up to her return.
Sookdeen Pasram’s Timeless Curls is cross-entered in a dirt stakes at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races April 20, so it will be interesting to see where the Curlin filly competes. If trainer Dale Capuano keeps her at Laurel, the Dahlia would mark her first attempt on the turf; her dirt record shows 10 starts with five wins, three thirds and two second, including a stakes win at Laurel.
Secret Message returned from a six-month layoff in style–and with some drama–when she rallied from seventh early to collar the leader, Patricia Moseley’s La Moneda, at the wire to win the photo by a nose. The time for the one mile was 1:35.25.
Owned by Madaket Stables, ERJ Racing, Elayne Stable 5 and Bouchey Thoroughbred Ventures, Secret Message in 2018 won the grade III Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park and finished second in the grade II Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park. She entered the Dahlia off of a series of steady works on the Tapeta surface at Fair Hill Training Center for Graham Motion.
“I was more concerned about the finish than anything,” Motion said of the tight photo. “(Jockey) Trevor (McCarthy) and I talked before the race. We didn’t want to rush her.”
“I just wanted to get her comfortable,” McCarthy said. “I had to wait around the far turn, and then I pushed the button turning for home.”
Secret Message, a 4-year-old Hat Trick filly, appears headed for bigger things, though Motion didn’t rule out a return to the MATCH Series division. He did indicate that Cairenn, second to Ms Locust Point in the Primonetta, “will probably stick with the series. I think it’s a great program for her.”
Sweet Message collected 10 MATCH Series points for the victory. The top three was rounded out by La Moneda (7) and Viva Vegas (5).