The 2022 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) regular season wrapped with a flourish of fillies at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday night (Oct. 6), as the three-year-old trotting lasses and two-year-old pacing fillies squared off in a pair of $159,000 Gold Series legs.
The trotting fillies kicked things off in the fifth race, and Adare Castle did what she has done on 13 other occasions, romping home a two and three-quarter length winner. Runners-up Mischevious Rose and Baby Longstocking both left sharply and made the heavy favourite put in some work through the :28 quarter, but the outcome was never in doubt once Adare Castle retook the lead heading by the :56 halfway marker. By the 1:24.4 three-quarters Adare Castle and driver James MacDonald of Guelph, Ont. had opened almost two lengths on the field and were on cruise control at the 1:52.4 finish.
“We’ve been racing pretty regularly lately so she’s a little sharper than earlier in the season. These last two weeks, like last time in the Elegantimage she was really sharp, and she warmed up kind of the same way today, so I kind of figured that she could go a pretty decent trip. I didn’t know it would be quite as rough as it turned out to be, but it worked out okay,” said trainer Mark Etsell of Rockwood, Ont. “Like James [MacDonald] said, I think she likes her work, so she really doesn’t care.”
The 1:52.4 clocking was a personal best for the daughter of Muscle Mass, who has only been bested twice in 11 Gold Series starts and has only finished out of the top two once in 20 starts.
“She’s done more than anybody ever expected and been very consistent, right, that’s one thing you can say about her, she shows up,” said Etsell, who shares ownership of Adare Castle with Robert Newton of Walkerton, Graham Hopkins of Chesley and Peter Porter of Port Dover, Ont. “It’s been a fun ride, it’s just now the thing is, it’s going to soon be over and you’re kind of going, ‘Oh no, what do I do now?’”
What the partners might do is supplement the filly to the Breeders Crown eliminations in two weeks time over her hometown oval. Etsell noted that the decision will not be made until after the Oct. 15 Super Finals, and remains more dream than reality given the hefty $72,000 USD supplement fee, but said Adare Castle has done more than enough to have the partners give serious consideration to the dream.
“It would be nice just to give her that opportunity. She’s done a lot for us, so it would be nice to give her the opportunity to see what she could do against those other horses. I don’t think she’ll embarrass herself if we choose too,” said Etsell. “After the Super Final we’ll make our mind up and see what we are going to do.
“It’s kind of her money, I’ll let her make the choice. I’ll just ask her what she thinks. She’s quite a character, she’s liable to give me an answer,” the trainer added with a chuckle.
Two races later, Lyons Bettorday made her first-ever appearance in the winner’s circle, sprinting out of the backfield to capture the two-year-old pacing filly regular season finale over division-point-leader Cheesy Smile and heavy favourite Savethelastdance.
In rein to Louis-Philippe Roy of Guelph, Ont. for the first time, Lyons Bettorday landed fifth from post four and watched Starlight Dancer ring a :27 quarter and :57.2 half, stalked by Freshen Up and Cheesy Smile. When those two fillies started their bid up the outer lane heading for the 1:23.1 three-quarters, Roy sent Lyons Bettorday after them, with Savethelastdance in pursuit. Wheeling off the turn, Roy gave his filly a clear view of the wire and Lyons Bettorday hit another gear and powered home a three-quarter-length winner in 1:51.2.
“I raced her a couple of weeks ago (Sept. 20) and I thought we had a very good chance in the maiden at Woodbine, but she got picked off at the wire. It’s not the end of the world, but I said I’d just love to see this filly get a mark on her, and you know what, she really showed up tonight, she was pacing strong down the lane,” said trainer Anthony Beaton of Waterdown, Ont. “Louis (Roy) gave her a great drive. He gave her the chance that she needed to win the race, and the little filly pulled through for us.”
Beaton trains the Bettors Delight daughter for Threelyonsracing of Brantford, Ont., who offered $13,000 for the petite pacer at last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. In the first four Gold Legs Lyons Bettorday had been in the hunt on all but one occasion, delivering one second-place result and a pair of thirds, but until Thursday, the winner’s circle had remained elusive.
“I saw Louis yesterday and I just told him, ‘Give her a chance. She’s a nice filly and I think you’ll really like to drive her, because everybody loves sitting behind her,’” said Beaton, who watched the filly from this year’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. “She’s always been a sweetheart to deal with and hey, she really showed that she was a sweetheart tonight.”
With the regular season complete, the top-10 point earners from all eight Gold Series divisions, including Adare Castle and Lyons Bettorday, will converge on Woodbine Mohawk Park next Saturday, Oct. 15 for the $1.8 million Super Finals.
To view Thursday's harness racing results, click the following link: Thursday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.