07/23/2010 1:02PM

La Rocca the speed in Ontario Matron


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – La Rocca should be tough as the lone front-runner in Sunday’s $150,000 Ontario Matron Stakes at Woodbine, assuming that Grade 1 winner Hooh Why doesn’t ship in for the 1 1/16-mile route for fillies and mares.

La Rocca captured the 2009 B.C. Oaks at Hastings for trainer Terry Jordan. She wound up third in all three of her starts this year, which were all here on Polytrack.

Most recently in the 1 1/16-mile Hill ‘n’ Dale Stakes, La Rocca led until deep stretch before being overtaken by two of the leading older females on the grounds, Tasty Temptation and Milwaukee Appeal.

“That’s a pretty good horse who beat her,” said Jordan. “The filly who was second won the Oaks here last year.”

Jordan had pondered sending La Rocca back to western Canada for several stakes, but then opted to leave her here after the purses for those races were dropped. He said she has improved this year.

“She was only a 3-year-old last year, and she’s more mature this year,” said Jordan. “She’s a good horse, and has gotten better with each start.”

Hooh Why ran the race of her life at Keeneland in April of 2009, when she won the Grade 1 Ashland. She also took the La Lorgnette Stakes here, and was second behind Milwaukee Appeal in the voting for Canadian champion 3-year-old filly.

Owner Mark Hoffman also entered Hooh Why in Tuesday’s $100,000 Windward Stakes over a mile at Presque Isle Downs, which is where she won a slow-paced allowance on the lead July 6.

“Both spots look good,” said Hoffman. “I just have to decide which one. I like coming [to Woodbine]. Her and I have traveled thousands of miles together. This would be our shortest trip together – a three-hour drive.”

Hoffman said Hooh Why is over issues that plagued her earlier this year.

“I was fighting her ovaries for months,” Hoffman explained. “She was in heat all the time. She just wasn’t herself. Finally, I took her to a clinic, and it looks like we have things in control now. She’s back to herself.”

The Todd Pletcher-trained Floating Heart has tailed off since finishing third behind the mighty Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita in March. She rallied belatedly for second in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron on May 29.