Pacing mares Grace Hill and Treacherous Dragon headline the field for next weekend's $305,000 Roses Are Red Stakes after winning their respective eliminations on Friday, June 9 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Grace Hill glided over the track as the 1-2 favourite to take the first $35,000 elimination for the Roses Are Red in 1:50.1.
Settling into second through a :27.2 first quarter set by Amazing Dream N (Yannick Gingras), driver Doug McNair promptly swung Grace Hill to the front up the backstretch to cut the pace into a :55.2 half. Dabarndawgswatchin (Louis-Philippe Roy) floated off the pegs from fourth to try to flush So Much More (James MacDonald) onto the rim, and So Much More soon took the bait and plugged forward after Grace Hill towards three-quarters in 1:23.2. So Much More started to level off in the sprint for home while Grace Hill gunned clear under wraps in the lane to win by 2-3/4 lengths. Amazing Dream N reclaimed second while Dabarndawgswatchin darted off cover to take third. So Much More held fourth and Dougs Babe A (Dexter Dunn) rounded the finalists.
“She probably is the best aged mare [I‘ve driven],” said McNair after the race. “Hopefully she just keeps getting stronger this year. She’s only had a few starts. She was real solid [tonight], I was real happy with her."
A five-year-old daughter of Always B Miki, Grace Hill moved from Richard “Nifty” Norman to the barn of Virgil Morgan Jr. in August of 2022. Since then, she has raced 13 times and won 10 of those starts, including a near gate-to-wire performance in the $540,000 Breeders Crown final last fall at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“She’s always been a good mare,” said Morgan Jr. after the race. “She was a really good two-year-old. She came to me in good form, so I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to train her. The Hills are great to work with. They’ve let me manage her and give her weeks off and spot her. We’re trying to do it the right way and they’re just great to work with.”
The victory now gives Grace Hill 23 wins from 50 starts and adds to a bankroll now worth $1,312,630 for owner Tom Hill. She paid $3 to win.
Treacherous Dragon (pictured above) reigned over her competition as the even-money favourite in the other Roses Are Red elimination to uncork a 1:48.3 sizzler.
Driver Dexter Dunn floated the four-year-old daughter of Captaintreacherous into third as Mikala (George Brennan) and Kobes Gigi (David Miller) sparred to a :26 first quarter. Mikala coasted up the backside, giving Dunn an opportunity to spring Treacherous Dragon to the lead through a slight breather of a second quarter into a :54.2 half.
Treacherous Dragon carried her momentum around the final turn to click three-quarters in 1:21.2 and scurried clear through the lane under minimal encouragement. She finished 1-3/4 lengths in front of Silver Label (Doug McNair), who burst off a pylon trip to grab second from Kobes Gigi. Mikala kept a charge from Im Offngone N (Travis Cullen) at bay to hold fourth.
The 1:48.3 winning time was a new lifetime mark for Treacherous Dragon and three-fifths of a second off the divisional track record set by Anndrovette in the 2013 Roses Are Red Stakes final.
“I’m happy [Dexter Dunn] took back,” said trainer Nancy Takter after the race. “They were going pretty good to the quarter and there was really no reason to make something of that when there was a hole. She’s generally better off the pace – that’s more of her style of racing. So for her to pace in [1:]48.3 on the front after the half was great.”
From 30 starts, Treacherous Dragon has won 14 times and now earned $1,231,162 for owner Hot Lead Farm. From four starts at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Treacherous Dragon has won all four. Those wins include a 1:50.1 victory in the $401,000 Fan Hanover and a 1:49.1 score in the $810,000 Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Filly Pace.
“Obviously, she really likes this track,” added Takter. “She gets around it really good [and] she likes the long stretch. I don’t think she’s ever lost here, so I hope that continues.”
Winners from each of the eliminations contested earned a protected post draw for their respective finals, set to go on the undercard of the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup next Saturday, June 17. Each elimination winner has earned the privilege to draw between posts two and six.
The field for the final is listed below in post position order.
$305,000 Roses Are Red Stakes
Post - Horse
1. Im Offngone N
2. Treacherous Dragon
3. Amazing Dream N
4. Grace Hill
5. So Much More
6. Silver Label
7. Dougs Babe A
10. Kobes Gigi
AE. Gias Surreal
To view Friday's harness racing results, click the following link: Friday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.
(With files from Woodbine)