Ami’s Mesa rallied impressively down the lane to win Saturday’s Grade 3 $146,150 Ontario Matron Stakes, at Woodbine.
Trained by Josie Carroll for owner-breeder Ivan Dalos, the four-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa won back-to-back races for the second time in her career, in taking the 1 1/16-miles Tapeta stake for older fillies and mares.
Rattataptap set the early tone in the Ontario Matron, taking the nine-horse field through opening splits of :24.98 and :49.74 with Ami’s Mesa, under Luis Contreras, sitting comfortably to the outside in fourth.
Ice Festival then took over command, as Davy Moran and the daughter of Awesome Again arrived at the three-quarters mark in 1:13.78. They looked to put their rivals on ice, holding a one-length advantage at the stretch call, but Contreras and Ami’s Mesa kept up their pursuit, gradually wearing down the game grey to prevail by the same margin.
Meadow Rose and Midnight Crossing dead-heated for show honours in the race timed in 1:43.44.
“I know that was the filly (Ice Festival) to beat in this race,” said Contreras. “I was a little bit worried. I know she’s not going to stop, but I was very confident with my filly at the end. She broke sharp and she let me do anything I wanted early. I was just waiting for my time to make my move and she responded really, really well.”
Carroll was hoping Ami’s Mesa great start would lead to an even better finish.
“When she broke well and he placed her where he placed her, I was very happy,” said the veteran conditioner, of her lightly-raced dark bay. “It’s her first time around two turns, but he got her to shut off and relax. When he picked her up and shook the lines, she really responded. She’s had a few little issues here and there, but she certainly seems to have rebounded now.”
For Dalos, it was another memorable win associated with the accomplished mare, Victorious Ami.
“The Ami family – which I have developed over many, many years – has been a very nice-producing family for me,” he said.
Dalos was also pleased with the tenacity Ami’s Mesa showed throughout the Ontario Matron.
“We knew she had the speed because she’s sprinted before,” he offered. “It was more a question whether she would go a mile and a sixteenth. Coming out of a Victory Gallop, I knew that the breeding was there. It was a question of whether she inherited the right genes and she did.”
Ami’s Mesa launched her career two years ago with consecutive victories, including her second start, the Glorious Song Stakes. After going winless in just three starts in 2016, she won her four-year-old debut, a smart three-length triumph on June 30 over seven furlongs on the Toronto oval Tapeta.
She now has four wins and one second from seven career starts.
Ami’s Mesa paid $9.80, $5.70 and $4.10, combining with Ice Festival ($6, $4.30) for a $65.40 (7-1) exactor. A 7-1-6 triactor (Midnight Crossing, $6.40 to show) was worth $489.40. A 7-1-8 triactor (Meadow Rose ($5.70 to show) returned $426.50. A $1 Superfecta of 7-1-6-8 came back $3,176.50, while a $1 Superfecta of 7-1-8-6 was worth $3,478. Moonlit Promise was scratched.