La Rocca overtakes Simply Splendid to win the Ontario Matron.

La Rocca overtakes Simply Splendid to win the Ontario Matron.

Michael Burns

La Rocca Shows the Way in Ontario Matron

Terry Jordan-trained filly sets tepid fractions and turns back Simply Splendid.

La Rocca, ridden by James McAleney, dictated an easy pace and then repelled odds-on choice Simply Splendid to win the $144,780 Ontario Matron Stakes (VIDEO) by a half-length at Woodbine July 25.

Simply Splendid, the 9-10 favorite in the scratched-down field of four, took the lead at the rail in upper stretch for jockey Chantal Sutherland. But she could not hold off Peter Redekop's La Rocca, who tallied after a long steady drive to the wire.

With the scratch of the swift Hooh Why by the stewards, the winning daughter of Toccet established tepid early fractions (:25.75, :50.17, 1:13.90) and came home in a slow 1:45.63 for the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack test for fillies and mares.

Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) winner Simply Splendid finished two lengths in front of American invaders Euphony and Floating Heart, who were separated by a nose for third and fourth, respectively.

Terry Jordan trains La Rocca, a 4-year-old filly out of the Boston Harbor mare Perfect Wave who sold for $310,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sale in March 2008. Overbrook Farm bred the bay in Kentucky.

"La Rocca was able to go around there with her ears pricked," said McAleney. "We turned it into a short sprint. It wasn't an absolute to be off the rail. The rail was a little bit better in morning workouts this morning. Ninety-nine percent of all horses run better on the outside."

McAleney said La Rocca has been knocking at the door, finishing a neck behind Milwaukee Appeal in the June 20 Hill 'N' Dale Stakes, which was won by Tasty Temptation.

"When you can hold your own with them, you're doing okay," offered McAleney. "She's been trying really hard."

Now a four-time winner from 14 starts, La Rocca earned $91,211 for the victory, boosting her career total to $326,516. She returned $12.90, combining with Simply Splendid for a $30.30 exacta. There was no place, show, or trifecta wagering.

Rag and Bone was also scratched.