Breeders' Cup International Horse Profile: Matera Sky

December 30th, 2021

Breeders’ Cup Sprint

Last of eight behind Mitole in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Japanese-trained Matera Sky must overcome a similar challenge, now two years later in the twilight of his career. The $350,000 Keeneland September yearling by Speightstown has been a gallant campaigner, if remembered more for his heartbreaks abroad than his performances at home.

The Mori veteran scored his signature wins in the 2018 Procyon S. (G3) and 2020 Cluster Cup, both in record time. Matera Sky wired the about seven-furlong Procyon in 1:20.3

But more often, Matera Sky has been the lovable bridesmaid, especially in his Middle Eastern ventures. A hard-trying second in the 2019 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), where he pressed X Y Jet every step of the way, he was subsequently mugged on the line in both runnings of the lucrative sprint on Saudi Cup Day. In the inaugural edition in 2020, Matera Sky scorched so far clear as to have the prize in his grasp, only to shorten stride late and get caught by New York Central. His loss back in Riyadh on Feb. 20 was not quite as dramatic, but just as gutting. Matera Sky appeared to have measured out his speed more efficiently as he edged away in the stretch, but compatriot Copano Kicking had a stronger kick in the final yards.

Matera Sky has raced just twice since Saudi Cup Day. Trying the Dubai Golden Shaheen again on World Cup night Mar. 27, he was uncharacteristically outpaced early and dropped back to 12th of 13. Matera Sky resurfaced to defend his title in the Aug. 9 Cluster Cup at Morioka, but could get no closer than a one-paced fifth after chasing the pace.

There’s precedent for Matera Sky to move forward from unplaced efforts. Twice he used losses in the Tokyo Hai as springboards to the JBC Sprint, where he was denied late in 2018 and placed second again in 2020.

The concern is that Matera Sky has to work out a trip where he probably can’t clear high-class American speed. Exhausted by pursuing Shancelot in the 2019 Breeders' Cup Sprint, he figures to get embroiled again. Or if he’s unable to keep up early, Matera Sky is more apt to churn on than offer a strong rally like the proven closers.