06/14/2001 11:00PM

Matron at mercy of Sam-Son duo


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The powerful Sam-Son Farm entry of Catch the Ring and Mountain Angel should be all the rage in Sunday's Ontario Matron Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares at Woodbine.

Catch the Ring won the Sovereign Award for champion 3-year-old filly last year, when she captured two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Tiara. She nailed Mountain Angel on the wire in the Canadian Oaks, then took the Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie, but she was second to entrymate Misty Mission in the third leg of the Tiara, the Wonder Where Stakes on turf.

This year, Catch the Ring was a non-threatening fifth in a grass allowance at Keeneland, and is coming off a decisive score on dirt in the allowance prep for the Matron.

Trainer Mark Frostad is content with Catch the Ring's progress this year.

"She's been training very well," he said. "I think she doesn't really like the turf. It's amazing, because her dam was strictly turf, but she prefers the dirt."

Catch the Ring is a daughter of leading sire Seeking the Gold and graded stakes winner Radiant Ring, who earned nearly $700,000 on the grass.

Mountain Angel was in peak form when she lost a nail-biter in the 2000 Oaks, but was sidelined for the remainder of the year after that race on June 10.

"We skipped the Bison City with her," Frostad said. "We kept working her, but she ended up with a chip in her ankle. We took it out and gave her the rest of the year off. She's come back very well."

Mountain Angel was probably the easiest winner of the meeting when she came off the shelf May 20 in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer. She led all the way and won by 10 1/4 lengths under a hand ride, earning a 99 Beyer Figure in the process.

Frostad said the two fillies are an ideal entry from a strategic standpoint.

"It could work out well," he said. "Mountain Angel will obviously be rolling up front. If somebody goes with her, it sets up for [Catch the Ring], and if they leave her alone, she'll be tough to beat."

Rounding out the field for the $110,500 Matron are Katherine of Ascot, Speed River, Inspired Kiss, Nymphenburg, Eden Lodge, and Gandria.

Gandria missed the board in her first two starts of the year, but is coming off a commendable third-place finish against males in the Grade 2 Eclipse Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race won by Graeme Hall.