Dorothy (D.D.) Matz’ homebred Tequilita dug in the stretch to hold off G1 winner Pretty City Dancer and win the seven-furlong G2 $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4.
It was a true family affair, as D.D. bred and raced Tequilita’s dam, Sangrita, and her husband Michael trained Tequilita as well as her dam Sangrita and her sire, Union Rags.
“Tequilita means a little tequila,” said D.D., who trained and showed internationally with show jumping World Championships team gold medalist and Olympic veteran Michael Matz before he retired from riding and turned to training racehorses. “Whenever we’d get sangritas they would say `with tequilita’, so that’s how she got her name.”
“Tequilita is very well behaved,” said D.D. “She’s a sweet, sweet filly, but she’s getting sassier as she gets fitter.”
“She’s very professional,” said D.D., who said they weren’t sure where they would run her next.
“We’re waiting to let her tell us,” said D.D. “We’ll see if she can get two turns. If she can, we’ll go on from there.”
D.D. said she has another 3-year-old filly by Union Rags as well as a 2-year-old filly and is breeding Sangrita back to Union Rags this year.
“I’m all in for Union Rags,” said D.D.
“I bred Sangrita, too,” said D.D. “She won a G2 at Churchill as a 3-year-old.”
"I trained the mare and trained the stallion, so it's a great thrill," said Michael in a televised interview in the winners’ circle after the Forward Gal Stakes. "She's a lot like her mother. Like her mother, she likes something to run at. I know when she gets the lead she can get lazy but (jockey) Luis (Saez) did a great job keeping her busy."
"I think she's still figuring out what she's supposed to do," Michael said. "For a while she was showing too much speed and now, if we want her to go longer we can get her to sit still and still make a nice run. She now has three wins at three different tracks with three different jockeys.”
To fight a G1 winner off like that, I'm impressed,” said Michael. “We always thought she could go longer, and I think she can."
"I don't know yet what's next," said Michael. "We'll just try to look. Obviously we'd like her to go two turns. We’ll see if we can stretch her out a little bit longer. She's starting to relax more and more each race so we'll keep our fingers crossed."
TEQUILITA finished a close second in two of her first three starts, brushing with a rival at the half-mile pole and being carried out four wide on the turn to miss by a half-length at Saratoga on Aug. 14, and then losing to another Union Rags filly, Phyllis Wyeth’s Chadds Ford Stable’s Dancing Rags at Laurel Park on Sept. 17 before winning a Maiden Special Weight at Keeneland on Oct. 22.
She ended her 2-year-old campaign with a one-length victory in the six-furlong Smart Halo Stakes at Laurel on Nov. 19.
In the Forward Gal, Tequilita had to go four-wide on the turn, got to the lead in the stretch and held off Pretty City Dancer by a half-length at the finish to win in 1:24.36 over a fast track.
She has now won $240,040 and is Union Rags’ top performer to date, with two stakes wins.
Union Rags has two G1 winners, both now 3-year-old fillies, and one placed in a G2 , the 3-year-old colt No Dozing.
The two G1 winners are Dancing Rags, who won the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 7, 2016, and Union Strike, who won the Del Mar Debutante at Del Mar on Sept. 3.
No Dozing was second in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 26.
Union Rags has an additional six winners, From Ria to Riches, Run and Go, Painter’s Rags, Fillet of Sole, Everybodylovesrudy and Union Blues.
Union Rags finished 2016 as the second Leading First Crop Sire with his get earning $1,457,070.
He had led through much of the year but was caught and passed in the end by Dialed In whose get earned just $87,766 more than Union Rags’ get.