ONTARIO MATRON S. | PURSE: $144,053 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/16 MILES
Salvador Hernandez's homebred La Tia made a tour de force of the $144,053 Ontario Matron Stakes at Woodbine July 26, leading wire to wire and drawing off at the end to best eight other fillies and mares in impressive 6 ¼-length fashion.
The 5-year-old Illinois-bred rebounded from a third in the June 23 Lincoln Heritage Handicap against state-breds. She showed the same form that saw her take the May 24 Arlington Matron by the same 6 ¼-length margin on the Polytrack at Arlington International Racecourse for trainer Armando De La Cerda.
La Tia, the 2-1 favorite, was off to a quick start in the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Matron, and Justin Stein judiciously rationed her early speed as she opened a two-length lead over Smartyfly for a :24.42 seconds opening quarter. The City Place mare widened her advantage to 3 ½ lengths through a half in :48.36 seconds, cruising along up the backstretch in confident fashion.
Although Royal Fury made a closing run to get within a length as three-quarters went in 1:12.62, La Tia slipped away off the final turn and increased the distance to 5 ½ lengths through the stretch in a 1:36.24 mile en route to a dominant score. Final time was 1:42.70.
"She was really relaxed," said Stein, who was aboard La Tia for the second time. "I let her have a little gallop in the warm up and she was happy to do that. She's just one of those horses that wants to go about her business and she wanted to get going."
In his previous mount with La Tia, on Sept. 23, 2012, Stein won a dramatic edition of the La Lorgnette Stakes at Woodbine after the front-running filly darted to the rail in the final furlong.
"She bounced herself off the fence and stopped and four horses went by her," recalled Stein. "But she saw the competition leaving her and she took off like a Quarter Horse and won that race easily."
La Tia returned $6.70, $4.10, and $2.90 while Royal Fury paid $7.30, $3.70 with third-place finisher Northern Passion bringing $4.30. Spring in the Air, Toasting, Lady Rouge, My Option, I'm a Kittyhawk, and Smartyfly completed the order of finish.
Out of the Sky Classic mare La Adelita, La Tia improved her record to 8-1-4 from 19 starts and earnings of $620,656. She is also the winner of the 2012 Arlington Oaks, and took the Purple Violet Stakes over state-bred company off her maiden win that year.
Earlier on the card, Conquest Stables' 1-20 choice Conquest Tsunami remained undefeated in three starts with a 6 ¾-length victory in the $145,393 Colin Stakes, which scratched down to three entries from the original six.
The Ontario-bred son of Stormy Atlantic cruised wire to wire and completed six furlongs on the fast all-weather track in 1:10.22 under jockey Patrick Husbands, returning $2.10 to win. R U Watchingbud and Honkeytonk Man completed the order of finish. Rouge et Blanc, Conquest Boogaloo, and Calgacus scratched.
Bred by Josham Farms and Yvonne Schwabe Thoroughbreds out of the El Corredor mare Classic Neel, Conquest Tsunami was a $190,000 yearling purchase by Conquest Stables from the Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency consignment at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale.
He came in off a victory in the June 21 Victoria Stakes at Woodbine after breaking his maiden for trainer Mark Casse April 25 at Keeneland. His three wins have earned his connections $205,931.