HP Mama B ($4.10) turned in a 1:55.1 course, stakes, and Canadian half-mile track record mile in her Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event for three-year-old trotting fillies on Wednesday (Aug. 25) at Grand River Raceway, but Imextraspecial ($2.70) one-upped her divisional foe by way of a 1:55 performance in the second split.
Following Gold wins at Georgian and Woodbine Mohawk Park, Keith Coulter's Imextraspecial made her return to the half-mile Grand River track a triumphant one — but she had her work cut out for her in the $99,800 second division (race eight). Trevor Henry sent the daughter of Muscle Mass forward from post six, and she used the entirety of a :27.4 first quarter to clear Midnight Miracle (Bob McClure). After catching a mid-race breather through splits of :57 and 1:26.2, Imextraspecial shifted gears on the far turn as Hawaii (Rick Zeron) launched a first-over attack. Under a strong drive from Henry, she found the line just in time, a neck better than both the surging Hawaii and inside challenger Midnight Miracle.
“Every trip is not going to be easy. Sometimes you get the good hole, good trip, but it was not the case tonight. She had to work her butt off to get to the front, and fortunately enough, Trevor got them shut down a bit and we could hang on,” said Paul Walker, whose primary concern was whether the nine-time winner with over $440,000 in career earnings would be sharp enough coming off a three-week break. “I was trying to look ahead a little bit. She’s got tough races the next four weeks, and I just thought, 'Well, I’m going to take a chance and see if I can get her tight enough to do the job.' You hope you make the right decision, but you don’t know at the time. A good horse will bail a trainer out most times.”
In the $100,600 first division (race five), HP Mama B floated forward from post five, but found herself parked for the first three-eighths of the mile before Sylvain Filion could work her clear of 35-1 roughie You Will Be Queen (Dustin Jones). But once the daughter of Royalty For Life gained control of the terms, there was no catching her. She coasted uncontested through splits of :56.2 and 1:25.3 before edging three lengths clear of You Will Be Queen. Dicentra (McClure) rallied off stalled cover to finish third.
Like Imextraspecial, HP Mama B is also a three-time Gold winner this season, having banked over $295,000 in her career to date for trainer Benoit Baillargeon and the partnership of Guylaine Picard and Celine Paquin.
“She had to work for it tonight — well, she comes to race all the time, but she worked pretty hard; she had enough at the wire tonight,” said Baillargeon. “The only thing that worried me was the weather. I hardly warmed her up tonight; I didn’t want to do too much with her, but she raced good. She overcame it. Sign of a good mare.”
Bright Eyes M held the previous Grand River record of 1:55.4, having set that standard in an OSS Gold event of her own in July 2019.
Filion and Baillargeon also teamed up to win the overnight feature, the $11,500 Preferred 2-3 Handicap Trot, with Refi ($3.70). The five-year-old Chapter Seven entire saved ground before slipping off the pegs with just under a quarter mile remaining, and then lifted three-wide off the home turn to eclipse Cheatalotpov and Bastiano by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:56.3.
To view Wednesday's complete results, click the following link: Wednesday Results – Grand River Raceway.
(with quotes from Ontario Sires Stakes)