Day Dominates Women’s Driving Series Stop At Grand River

Ontario Women's Driving Championship drivers at Grand River Raceway
Published: August 12, 2022 10:08 pm EDT

Grand River Raceway (GRR) hosted a successful leg of the OLG Ontario Women’s Driving Championship (OWDC) on Friday, Aug. 12.

The OLG OWDC expanded to five tracks with three extra legs this year, including GRR, Leamington Raceway and The Raceway at Western Fair District. Each racetrack will have five races on a race card as part of the series. The OWDC added two additional drivers this season, providing additional driving opportunities for even more female drivers. The championship is sponsored by OLG and Ontario Racing.

Natasha Day put on a show in the competition, winning three of the five Women’s Driving Championship races during the third leg at GRR on Friday as well as finishing second and third in the other two dashes. The other two dashes were won by Brittany Kennedy and Samara Johnson. 

Day came into this leg of the OWDC leading the way by just two points over Marielle Enberg and seven ahead of Julie Walker. The Australian born driver has now padded her lead to 13 points over Julie Walker, who took over second in the driver standings. She had an effective night at GRR bagging three runner-up finishes along with a third and a fifth. 

“These women gave the fans exciting races to cheer on,” said Jamie Martin, Raceway Manager at Grand River Raceway. “The OWDC was new to us this year, the drivers and fans loved it. Grand River Raceway was proud to host an all-women driver championship with an all-women broadcasting team. Thanks to the women for making the trek to Elora for this leg of the races.”

It was a rocking pink night for guests in support of Harness the Hope, a not-for-profit raising funds for cancer initiatives. Overall, GRR’s event raised $25,000 for Harness the Hope. These funds consisted of $12,500 from raceway fans, local business sponsor donations, and even the women drivers donated a portion of their purse money from their five races, totalling $1,700. Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS) matched the $12,500 raised and, during the event, presented a cheque to Kristy Dustin, co-founder of Harness the Hope. GRAS is the philanthropic arm of The Grand Family, which also includes Grand River Raceway and The GrandWay Events Centre. It has a vision to support people, animals and the planet. Providing funds to cancer initiatives will provide support to those for early detection and support to young cancer patients. 

“Supporting people -- the survivors, those battling the disease and those who have lost loved ones to this disease -- is part of our core values at GRAS,” said Katie Giddy, VP, Operations, Grand River Agricultural Society. “We have a very generous community. When we asked for their support with this event, they were more than willing to donate to such a great cause. It was an honour to be a part of this wonderful championship!”

The entire track was “painted pink” with pink dressed-up horses, drivers, grooms, treats, drinks and more. It was a celebration of all women who are part of the sport of harness racing and a proud moment to honour those who have survived cancer, those who are currently fighting the disease and those who have lost loved ones.

Here is a look at the leaderboard after the third leg of the OLG Ontario Women’s Driving Championship at Grand River Raceway:

1. Natasha Day – 51 points (returning 2021 champion)
2. Julie Walker – 38
3. Marielle Enberg – 32
4. Maggie Jones –29
5. Pam Forgie – 23
T6. Marie-Claude Auger– 16
T6. Brittany Kennedy – 16
8. Samara Johnson – 15
9. Debi O’Brien-Moran - 13

The OWDC series will continue at Leamington Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 25 for the fourth leg, with the final at The Raceway at Western Fair District on Friday, Oct. 14.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click the following link: Friday Results - Grand River Raceway.

(With files from Grand River Raceway)