by Brian Bohl
Three Chimneys Farm’s Royal Approval overtook pacesetter Union Gables in the final furlong and closed strongly to register a three-quarters of a length victory for her first stakes score in Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Matron for juvenile fillies on Belmont Park’s inner turf.
Royal Approval broke sharp from post 7 under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. and tracked Union Gables as she led the seven-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.53 seconds and the half in 46.28 on the firm inner turf course. Out of the turn, the 1-2 favorite pressed on and bypassed Union Gables from the outside once inside the eighth pole. Magisterium, who was at the back at the pack a quarter-mile in, made a strong bid from the rail, and Union Gables continued to dig in, but Royal Approval completed the six-furlong sprint in 1:09.10.
“I rode her like the best horse in the race,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “With this one I got the perfect trip. She broke well, she put me right there and when I asked her to go, she was there.
“She [Union Gables] was game,” he added regarding the stubborn pace setter. “She was fighting and she tried to come back. My filly responded really well. She has a nice turn of foot.”