Stars to Shine put in a determined run to capture her first graded score in Sunday’s $153,000 Grade 3 Ontario Matron Stakes, at Woodbine.
The dark bay mare, trained by Mark Frostad for The Grange House Partnership, lacked running room turning into the stretch but Alex Solis urged Stars to Shine off the rail and collared a front-running Hooh Why in the final jump.
Hooh Why broke sharply in the 1 1/16-mile event, taking the field through an opening quarter in :25.26 with Ima Soul Miss providing moderate pressure. Stars to Shine, riding the rail from third position, tracked Hooh Why through a half in :50.06 and was roused by Solis through the turn.
A front-running Hooh Why opened up a two-length lead at the top of the lane, as Stars to Shine struggled to find safe passage off the rail, but could not hold off the brave and determined winner who prevailed by a length. Ariana D rallied for show money. Stars to Shine stopped the clock in 1:45.04.
Solis was content with his ground-saving trip, despite being squeezed at the top of the stretch.
“I was trying to save as much ground as I could, and wait as long as I could,” said Solis. “Unfortunately, the five-horse (Hooh Why) stayed out, and when I tried to get through she came in and squeezed me a little bit. That’s racing.”
Frostad, who trained Stars to Shine into a smart nose score in the Trillium last time out off a layoff, admitted he was concerned about the slow pace set by Hooh Why.
“Absolutely, especially when you’re down on the rail,” said Frostad. “If they come up on the outside of you and get you trapped in there, it can be pretty difficult. Fortunately, Alex had her in good position and made the move when he needed to.”
Stars to Shine banked $90,000 for the victory, improving her record to six wins, a second and two thirds from 12 lifetime starts.
She returned $4.40, $2.70 and $2.30, pairing with Hooh Why ($3.30, $2.50) for a $15 (1-5) exactor. A 1-5-3 (Ariana d, $3.20 to show) triactor was worth $39.10. A $1 1-5-3-9 superfecta (Bear It’s Time) paid $61.35. Smart Penny was deemed to have an unfair start, necessitating a refund.