'Fueling' the 'Embur's' in the Ontario Matron

The Coaching Club American Oaks (gr.1) will easily trump all other filly and mare races over the course of the weekend with its deep and compact field of sophomore fillies, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t action happening elsewhere on the continent that isn’t worthy of notice. The $150,000 Ontario Matron Stakes (gr.3) at Woodbine on Sunday features an interesting and competitive field of seven older fillies and mares led by three time stakes winner Embur’s Song. Of the seven fillies entered in the Matron, six have tallied up wins in stakes and three are graded stakes winners.

Breaking from post position number one is Grade 1 winner Hooh Why. She may have a Grade 1 on her resume but you have to go all the way back to early April of 2009 when she captured the Ashland Stakes to find it. Since completing her semi-successful 2009 campaign she has performed erratically, winning just four of nineteen starts since the Ashland. With four starts already this year, three in graded stakes races, the five year old mare has won an Allowance Optional Claiming race and finished 5th twice in Grade 3 stakes. She last finished 6th in the Chicago Handicap at Arlington Park. She hasn’t posted any works since finishing out of the money in the Chicago Handicap so unless she’s sitting on top of an unusually big race, I’d say she’s a toss. Never a safe thing to say about a Grade 1 winner.
Indian Apple Is breaks from post two, and at odds of 15-1 she is the second longest shot on the board. The five year old Indian Charlie filly has raced exclusively at Woodbine with mild success, garnering seven wins in nineteen starts. She began the year finishing third in the Whimsical Stakes (gr.3) and followed that up with a fourth place finish in the Hendrie Stakes (gr.3). Her last effort was a sixth place effort in the Sweet Briar Too Stakes, missing fifth by a nose to Ariana D. The 1 1/16 miles of the Ontario Matron doesn’t seem to be her best distance as her winning performances have mostly come in the seven and six furlong range.

In post three is five time stakes winner and dual graded stakes winner Biofuel. Last year Biofuel won four of her six starts, including the Grade 3 Selene Stakes, and finished second and third in the Coaching Club American Oaks and Mother Goose Stakes respectively, both Grade 1’s. Making her first start of 2011 in the Sweet Briar Too Stakes on July 1st she finished fourth as the high weight, beaten less than a length to the wire after navigating the final turn seven wide. She’s got a lot of upside and with all the time she had off between 2010 and 2011 she’s had an abundance of time for growth and improvement. She’s won at the distance over the same strip and enters off a solid 1:00.60 five furlong work. This filly has a very good chance to bounce back and steal the show.

[Hooh Why ranks #454 on HRN's active horses rankings page while Biofuel doesn't even make the top 500. Will that change after Sunday?]

Post number four goes to Stormy Illusion, the only mare in the field without stakes experience. In her fourth year of racing this year, Stormy Illusion has started just two times so far, finishing sixth in Allowance Optional Claiming and then coming back one month later to capture an Allowance Optional Claiming race by 2 ½ lengths on July 2nd. The distance and track won’t be a problem but I don’t think she’ll be winning this race in her first stakes try, but don’t count her out of the exotics at tempting odds
of 20-1.

Embur’s Song bring the strong form in to the Ontario Matron for trainer Todd Pletcher, having captured three consecutive stakes races, including a 3 ½ length triumph in the Hendrie Stakes (gr.3) where she easily defeated Ariana D, Indian Apple Is and Hooh Why. Back in April the Unbridled’s Song filly defeated Check the Label by a nose after holding on in the stretch to win the Doubledogdare Stakes (gr.3) at Keeneland. She enters the race off an easy :49.54 four furlong work and will break from post five.

Dancing Raven has raced four times this year, finishing third once, second twice and registering a win in the Ballade Stakes two starts back. With four wins in twelve lifetime starts, all at Woodbine, and the worst two finishes of her career being two fourth place finishes in stakes races, you have to respect her chances to hit the board. This will be her first attempt in graded stakes company and she posted a bullet six furlong work in preparation.

Ariana D has run twenty times in her career so far and has crossed the finish line first in seven of those attempts. She has clearly proven best at sprint distances, winning all but one of her races from 5 ½ to 7 furlongs. The exception came when she captured a one mile allowance race at Presque Isle Downs in the summer or 2009 by 2 ½ lengths. Distance doesn’t appear to be an issue from a pedigree standpoint and judging by her long-past 1 mile allowance win but you never can tell until they try.

This looks like a race between and Embur’s Song and Biofuel, both on paper and on the track. Embur’s Song is on a roll and in the best form of her career while Biofuel is coming in off a very close fourth place finish in her 2011 debut after more than nine months away from the track. Biofuel has the most potential to improve her position and looks like a candidate for a big run.

 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.

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