Coolmore America Justify Matron Stakes (Group 1)

TWELVE months on from a narrow defeat in this race, Pearls Galore finally got that Group 1 success that has thus far eluded her with a pillar-to-post tour de force to credit the dynamic partnership of Paddy Twomey and Billy Lee with another big-race success.

Even before this race Twomey has enjoyed another tremendous season, but he took things to a new level by restoring this five-year-old back to the peak of her powers. Not only that but Pearls Galore achieved her first success at the top level by putting away a trio of the finest miler fillies in Europe in Saffron Beach, Tenebrism and Homeless Songs.

After starting her season with a smooth win in the Heritage Stakes, Pearls Galore gave the impression that she hadn’t quite been at her best on her next three outings and last month’s fifth to Saffron Beach in Deauville left her with plenty to do. Back on home turf at a track she loves and fitted with first-time cheekpieces Pearls Galore showed just what she can do at her best.

She pinged the gates for Billy Lee and got into a beautiful rhythm at the head of the field and by the time the front-running 16/1 shot turned for home it was clear that she had most of her rivals in trouble. Saffron Beach didn’t look to be in difficulty at this stage and she loomed up with real menace inside the last quarter of a mile.

However, Pearls Galore turned on the style the minute she looked to be vulnerable. The Haras De Saint Pair-owned filly simply ran right away over the course of the last furlong to score by a resounding three lengths. There was a further length back to Tenebrism while Homeless Songs was a further length and a half away in fourth.


“She was good today,” stated Twomey. “Her last run in France didn’t work out and we came home disappointed but not upset. In terms of putting cheekpieces on her, she’s five and doing what she has to and going through the motions.

“France was a better run than it looked and I knew today she was in good form. She’s got speed and stays and has the ability to travel at a high tempo and burn off horses and that’s what she did. The aim was to win a Group 1 she’s done it so I’m not sure what we will do now.”

A delighted Billy Lee, whose first top-level success came in this race on Fiesolana in 2014, stated: “She is as tough as nails. If ever a horse deserved a Group 1 it was her. She has a heart of gold. Her last couple of runs were a little disappointing but today she was on form.

“The cheekpieces helped, she winged the gates and loves this course. Paddy has brought her right back to her best and the easy ground was a help to her.”