06/04/2003 11:00PM

Stakes win in sight for Winning Chance


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Saturday's $139,375 Ontario Matron Handicap at Woodbine could be a coming out for Winning Chance, an improving Stronach Stable runner who is unbeaten in two starts this year.

Winning Chance, a daughter of Alphabet Soup, has never won a stakes, but was a close second in two stakes in 2002. She finished a neck behind Mulrainy after blowing a clear lead in the stretch in the La Lorgnette in September, and was beaten a nose by Jealous Forum in the July 13 Wilderness Song.

Winning Chance finished sixth on turf in her last start for trainer Roger Attfield, the Oct. 14 Carotene Stakes. After wintering in Florida, she returned this year with trainer Danny Vella.

Winning Chance benefited from an inside speed bias when she won her season opener in a second-level allowance. She shook loose on the lead over a speed-favoring track and never looked back in her most recent start, an optional claimer, winning by seven lengths in a quick clocking and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

Richard Purcell, an assistant to Vella, said Winning Chance has trained encouragingly heading into the Matron.

"She's doing really well," Purcell noted. "She's stayed sound. She looks good. She's improved with every race."

Completing the field of fillies and mares for the 1 1/16-mile Matron are Clouds of Gold, Lady Vye, Lady Shari, Small Promises, Ginger Gold, Dawn Edition, Silver Nithi, and Extend.

Attfield will send out the uncoupled duo of Small Promises, last year's champion older mare, and the 2002 Matron winner, Extend. They were coupled when they finished third and sixth at 1-10 in the allowance prep for the Matron.

Attfield came away from the prep frustrated with how his horses ran.

"I was disappointed with Extend," said Attfield, offering no explanation for her subpar showing. "Small Promises was just in the wrong spot in the race."

Longshots Lady Vye and Dawn Edition ran one-two in the prep, creating big place payoffs in a race without show wagering.

Lady Shari, last year's champion 3-year-old filly, and Ginger Gold, the 2001 champion 2-year-old filly, both ran poorly in their only start this year.

Lady Shari has worked well since her opener, but is probably a race or two away from peaking, according to her trainer, Dave Cotey.

Ginger Gold captured the 2002 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, and placed in all three legs of the 2002 Canadian Triple Tiara.