With a well-timed stretch run, favourite Gamble’s Ghost powered up on the far outside to prevail by a neck in the $125,000 Ontario Matron Stakes (Grade 3) featured on the mid-July Sunday program at Woodbine Racetrack.
Jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva worked out the winning trip aboard Gamble’s Ghost for trainer Josie Carroll and owner/breeder Ivan Dalos, who also won last year’s edition of the 1-1/16 mile stakes race for fillies and mares with Ami’s Mesa.
Gamble’s Ghost settled off the pace second-to-last early on while the Mark Casse-trained trio of My Arch Enemy, Malibu Bonnie and Let It Ride Mom raced on top through panels of :24.65, :50.21 and 1:14.85. Still eighth turning for home, Gamble’s Ghost kicked into action down the stretch and defeated the Casse crew at the wire in 1:44.88.
“When we were in the paddock, Josie told me just let her run her race. She was very, very relaxed all the way,” said Da Silva, who opted to save ground on the final turn with confidence that the mare’s patent late kick would land her the winner’s circle. “I know she’s going to run in the end and she ran beautiful. When she turned home, all she wanted to do was catch all the horses.”
“I had a little concern because it was an awful nice horse that was on the lead and it looked like she was going to win it,” said Carroll. “This mare, when she sees a horse in front of her, she’s going to catch it. That’s what I said to Eurico, ‘Don’t try to change her style. I know they’re probably going to back the pace up, but you can’t change her.’ She likes to make that one run.”
Gamble’s Ghost was sent postward as the 2-1 bettors’ choice following her Grade 3 Trillium Stakes score last time out on June 17 and paid $6.50, $3.10 and $2.50.
The five-year-old Ghostzapper-Gambling Girl mare earned her fifth Grade 3 stakes victory and ninth win overall from 19 starts to boost her bankroll over the $900,000 mark.
“I think she’s just getting better and better, which is unusual as a mare gets older, but she just loves to run. She loves to chase horses,” said Carroll.
The mare’s win marked the third time Carroll has won the Ontario Matron. She also campaigned the 2009 champion Smart Surprise, dam of six-place finisher Moonlit Promise.
Gamble’s Ghost combined with Let It Ride Mom ($4.60, $2.80) for a 7-9 exacta worth $20.10. There was a photo finish for third-place with My Arch Enemy ($3.60) edging out Malibu Bonnie. The $1 trifecta of 7-9-3 paid $45.65 and the $1 superfecta of 7-9-3-5 returned $401.75.
Sister Nation, Moonlit Promise, Just Be Kind, Daddy’s Great Bay and Grizzel completed the order of finish.
Live Thoroughbred racing continues Wednesday evening, with first race post time set for 6:45 p.m.