10/08/2009 12:00AM

Arthur duo faces tough Tanika


Ochoa, second in the $122,000 British Columbia Oaks Sept. 26, will take on her elders in the $50,000 Duchess of York Handicap at Northlands Park on Saturday.

The 1 1/16-mile feature for fillies and mares drew seven horses and goes as the 10th race. Ochoa is the only 3-year-old in the field.

Trained by Floyd Arthur, Ochoa has yet to run a bad race in Western Canada, and she was an easy winner the last time she ran at Northlands. In her first start there, she finished second to La Rocca in the $75,000 Sonoma Stakes. Arthur brought her back to win a $40,000 optional race for fillies and mares on Sept. 6 before shipping her across the Rocky Mountains to try La Rocca again in the B.C. Oaks at Hastings. She ran another big race, but once again was easily handled by La Rocca.

Arthur has also entered Victory Romance. They are both owned by Donver Stable and will be coupled in the wagering. Arthur isn't sure which horse he likes the most. Victory Romance is coming off of a sharp win in the Fall Classic Distaff on Sept. 19. Arthur is hoping she is back on her game after a couple of dull efforts before the Distaff.

"They are both very nice fillies, and I can't choose between them," said Arthur. "Victory Romance ran two clunkers, but I think I figured out what the problem was, and she has worked well since she ran. Ochoa seems to have handled the trip back from Hastings well. If she runs a big race, I might take her back there for the Ballerina."

Rickey Walcott rides Ochoa. Quincy Welch retains the mount on Victory Romance.

The horse standing squarely in their way is Tanika, who is the top money-earner in the field with $481,512.

Trained by Barry Brown, Tanika was the champion older filly or mare in the province last year and also the 3-year-old filly champ in 2007. She hasn't dominated the filly-mare division this year, but she could be coming up to a peak effort.

Tanika was no match for Summer Song in back-to-back stakes races at Northlands, finishing third in the Madamoiselle on Aug. 2 and second in the City of Edmonton Distaff on Aug. 22. Nonetheless, she was an easy winner of the $72,000 Matron Stakes at Assiniboia Downs on Sept. 11, and her Beyer Speed Figures are on an ascending pattern.