09/17/2011 4:27PM

Woodbine: Northern Passion wins Natalma under heady, ground-saving ride by Contreras

Michael Burns
Northern Passion cruises to the finish of the Natalma after jockey Luis Contreras cut the corner turning for home.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Northern Passion ($14.70) got a dream run along the inside to capture Saturday’s Grade 3, $235,100 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine, under a fine ride from Luis Contreras.

Northern Passion bided her time at the back of the 12-horse field of 2-year-old fillies, as Quality Lass set a lively pace in the one-mile turf route. Dayatthespa made the lead late on the turn, while Northern Passion was in the midst of her ground-saving rally, and Northern Passion hit the front near the sixteenth pole before drawing clear to prevail in 1:35.

Northern Passion’s win earned her an automatic berth in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Nov. 4, as  the Natalma is a BC Win and You’re Win race.

Dayatthespa finished a length and a quarter back in second in the Natalma, two lengths ahead of a closing Stephanie’s Kitten. Spirited Miss checked in fourth, and favored Hard Not to Like rallied belatedly for fifth.

Contreras said he wasn’t planning on going to the rail after breaking from post 9, but that it just worked out that way.

“I just took my chances, to keep my horse clear,” said Contreras. “I knew I had a lot of horse, and I just went from there. The inside is very good.”

Northern Passion collected $150,000 in her first stakes triumph for owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse.