Stakes winner Dixie Moon and stakes placed Katie Baby provide trainer Catherine Day Phillips with a solid one-two punch in Saturday's Grade 3 $125,000 Ontario Matron, at Woodbine in Toronto, Canada.
The 1 1/16-mile main track feature for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward, has drawn a competitive field of 11 starters, including Day Phillips' Ontario-bred duo.
A 4-year-old daughter of Curlin, Dixie Moon arrives at the Ontario Matron off a third-place showing in the G3 Trillium Stakes, contested on June 16 at Woodbine.
The five-time winner from 15 starts for owner-breeders Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry is a four-time stakes champ, including a victory in last year's Woodbine Oaks presented by Budweiser.
Her other added-money scores came in the Cup and Saucer, Ontario Lassie and Carotene.
Posting a 3-1-0 record from five starts in 2017, Dixie Moon went 2-2-0 from eight races in 2018.
This year, the chestnut has a fourth and a third from a pair of starts.
“She's being doing very well,” offered Day Phillips. “We've taken her off Lasix for this start, which I'm really excited about. She seems to be just a length shy of where she needs to be, and hopefully this will make a difference in her world. I'm looking forward to seeing her run.”
Also a daughter of Curlin, Katie Baby, bred and owned by Anderson Farms, has never finished lower than third over five starts.
The 4-year-old chestnut just missed winning her career bow last May, rallying impressively but coming up short by a head in the six-furlong main track race over the Toronto oval Tapeta.
Katie Baby broke her maiden the next time out and followed it up with a valiant third-place finish in the Bison City Stakes (second jewel in the Canadian Triple Tiara).
After a win to kickoff her 2019 campaign, she finished second to Summer Sunday in the G3 Hendrie Stakes on June 9.
“She's coming into the race in good order and she's training very well,” said Day Phillips who will have Eurico Rosa Da Silva in the irons for the Ontario Matron. “She ran a tremendous race in the Hendrie, a little bit of an unlucky trip. We're looking forward to seeing her run again. I look forward to a big race from her on Saturday as well.”
There is, however, one thing the accomplished conditioner isn't overly excited about.
“I wish they weren't running against each other, but that's the way it's unfolded for each of them. It's in both of their best interests to run here. My heart and loyalty in the middle of it doesn't factor into the decision.”
Outside of Curlin as their sire, do the two share anything else in common?
“They live in the stall next to each another, have the same groom, the same exercise rider and rider… except 'Dixie' has Emma (jockey, Wilson). They share a lot. I wouldn't say they're best friends by any means, but they do have a lot in common.”
Last year, Gamble's Ghost, under Eurico Rosa Da Silva, won the Ontario Matron, paying $6.50 for the win.
The Ontario Matron has been carded as race eight on the 11-race program. First post is 1:05 p.m.
FIELD FOR THE ONTARIO MATRON
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Crumlin Queen – Davy Moran – Michael Doyle
2 – Lunar Garden – Rafael Hernandez – Stuart Simon
3 – Miss Mo Mentum – Jerome Lermyte – Mark Casse
4 – Giovanna Blues – Gary Boulanger – Francine Villeneuve
5 – Ladies Night – Kazushi Kimura – Gail Cox
6 – Sense of Bravery – Jesse Campbell – Kevin Attard
7 – Niigon's Bay – Patrick Husbands – Rachel Halden
8 – Katie Baby – Eurico Rosa Da Silva – Catherine Day Phillips
9 – Summer Luck – Jerome Lermyte – Mark Casse
10 – Pamina – Luis Contreras – Michael Dickinson
11 – Dixie Moon – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Catherine Day Phillips
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