Defending Ontario Fashion Stakes champion Winter Garden held on to her title with a display of speed and moxie at Woodbine Saturday.Frank DiGiulio's heavily favored bay 4-year-old was ridden by David Clark, who piloted the Kentucky-bred to the 1 3/4-length win in a sharp 1:10.35 for trainer Robert Tiller.El Prado Essence was second while 15-1 longshot Big Cheque checked in third.Clark praised Winter Garden, who now has three stakes wins in 2004 for her outstanding effort in the Ontario Fashion."This filly is just amazing," he said. "I didn't like the way the race was unfolding so I just asked her to pick it up a little bit and she did the rest on her own. She does whatever you ask her."Clark guided the daughter of Roy to a one-length win in the 2003 edition of the race."She's just wonderful," Tiller said. "She does spring, summer, fall. She just goes out and gets the job done. She tries hard and her form suggests that. I love her, she's a great mare."Tiller figures Winter Garden will get one more start this year, Woodbine's $150,000 Bessarabian Stakes (Can-III) at seven furlongs on Nov. 28.
The 2004 Ontario Fashion victory, worth $81,750, bumps her career earnings to $902,788 with 12 victories.Winter Garden returned $3.80, $2.50, $2.30 and combined with El Prado Essence ($4.40, $3.50) for a $14.80 exacta. Big Cheque paid $4.90 to show and rounded out the $100.80 trifecta.(Chart, Equibase)