By virtue of a win and four top-three finishes, Marielle Enberg edged her way to the top spot of the OLG Ontario Women's Driving Championship leaderboard after the first day of competition on Saturday (July 16) at Hanover Raceway.
Enberg of Guelph, Ont. found her way to the winner's circle courtesy trotter Azucar ($4.30), a horse she knows extremely well as she's also the 10-year-old gelding's owner and trainer. Enberg's win, second and two thirds on the day gave her 15 points, tops among the nine talented drivers participating.
"It's fun to be part of and it's for a good cause," said Enberg after the opening leg. "I think it's a good thing to promote women driving."
Despite winning two of the five divisions in the opening OWDC leg, Natasha Day of Cambridge, Ont. sits in second with 14 points with Julie Walker of Carlisle, Ont. not far off the front pair with 12 points. The leaderboard after the first day of the 2022 OLG Ontario Women's Driving Championship:
1. Marielle Enberg - 15
2. Natasha Day - 14
3. Julie Walker - 12
4. Pam Forgie - 11
5. Maggie Jones - 8
T6. Marie-Claude Auger - 5
T6. Debi O'Brien-Moran - 5
T8. Samara Johnson - 3
T8. Brittany Kennedy - 3
Enberg knows that the first leg success and momentum doesn't guarantee anything heading into the second OWDC leg at Dresden Raceway in 24 hours time.
"It's tough competition. I'm definitely going to try to keep it up but everyone's a good driver in here."
The event, which is also a fundraiser for Harness the Hope, has grown from two tracks to five this season. The next leg is at Dresden Raceway on Sunday, July 17, followed by three new hosts to the competition: Grand River Raceway (Friday, Aug. 12), Leamington Raceway (Sunday, Sept. 25) and the final is at The Raceway at Western Fair District on Friday, Oct. 14.
"Perfect weather and extraordinarily competitive racing," said Hanover's GM Steve Fitzsimmons. "And the standings are very tight. Everybody chalked up some points today, it was very positive competition and it certainly bodes well for part two in Dresden tomorrow."
Fitzsimmons also noted that the response to the day's racing was positive in terms of handle and on-track attendance. Today's handle of $56,086 was the second highest of the season.
"The crowd was extraordinarily enthusiastic here, and it was an above average crowd here for Hanover this season," Fitzsimmons told Trot Insider. "The lineups for the autograph session were strong, people wanted to meet the ladies, they wanted to to speak with them and get photos and get autographs."
Saturday's card of harness racing at Hanover Raceway also featured two divisions of the Ontario Sires Prospect Series for three-year-old male pacers.
The first division went to Wilcat Rocky ($2.80) and driver Steve Byron, a wire-to-wire winner in 1:58.1 for his seventh score of the season. Dale Heard trains the sophomore gelded son of Hes Watching - Wildcat Beauty for Wildcat Stables Inc. of Carrying Place, Ont. and Antonio Tangreda of Kettleby, Ont.
Maskedman ($7.20) and driver Bruce Richardson mimicked that performance in the second division, on top at every call for the 1:57.4 victory. Gestions JF Goyette Inc. of Ste-Therese, Que. owns Maskedman (Shadow Play - Tempest Blue Chip), now a seven-time winner on the season as well for trainer Rene Dion.
To view the results from Saturday's card, click the following link: Saturday Results - Hanover Raceway.