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Harness Highlights: Photo Finishes Aplenty in Matron Stakes

by Frank Carulli

November 21, 2017

North America's top 3-year-olds arrived at Dover Downs for the Matron Stakes last Thursday, soon to find out there was no room for error.

With nearly $800,000 in purse money up for grabs, four champions emerged with winning margins of a nose, a head and a neck among them.

Dream Together ($8.60, Daniel Dube) set the tone when she sustained a 3-wide bid on the final turn and won the $186,600 Matron for trotting fillies in a three-horse blanket finish.  Dream Together surged ahead of pace setter Evelyn (Andy Miller) and first-over favorite Ice Attraction (Ake Svanstedt) in the shadow of the wire to win by a nose in 1:53.2 on a cold and windy night at the 5/8-mile oval.

Bill's Man ($7.20, Tim Tetrick) followed suit in the $201,900 Matron for trotting colts with a strong surge in the final 16th of a mile to win by a head in 1:52.2. Bill's Man followed and caught 8-5 favorite Devious Man after that rival wore down Breeders Crown winner What The Hill (David Miller) to take the lead in early stretch.

Not to be outdone, Downbytheseaside ($4.60, Chris Page) topped $2 million in earnings with a determined surge to poke his neck in front of pace-setting favorite Filibuster Hanover (Yannick Gingras) in the $201,900 Matron for pacing colts. Downbytheseaside secured the pocket early from post 7 and never vacated the rail as he won for the 12th time this year, in 1:50.1. 

Downbytheseaside moved up to No. 4 in the Hambletonian Socitey/Breeders Crown weekly poll, ahead of stable-mate Fear The Dragon, who skipped the Matron. The two Brian Brown trainees are scheduled to meet in this Wednesday's Progress Pace eliminations at Dover. Both have earned more than $1 million this year. 

Agent Q ($6, David Miller) shunned the photo-finish camera when she won by 1-3/4 lengths in the  $182,700 Matron for pacing fillies. She was flushed out of third near the 3/4-mile mark, forged ahead of pace-setter Caviart Ally at the top of the stretch and held safe the closers that included pocket-pulling favorite Idyllic Beach.