Driver James MacDonald, trainer Nick Gallucci and owner George Millar won both $101,300 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold divisions for three-year-old pacing fillies Sunday night (Aug. 28) at Rideau Carleton Raceway in polar opposite fashions. The first with a longshot from off the pace, and the second favourite from out front.
Silver Label added to her OSS trophy case in Race 9, winning her second Gold this season as the bettor’s top choice at 1-5.
Leaving from post two, MacDonald navigated her into the pocket early and popped off the pegs the first time through the stretch. The Bettors Delight filly was the class of the field, leading unchallenged the rest of the way and winning in an identical time to the first division of 1:52.
“She’s just a powerhouse,” said MacDonald. “The trip worked out great. Got to control the race and get soft fractions, and she was well within herself. It was a terrific night all around.”
Silver Label has now earned over $250,000 this season, backing up a freshman campaign where she was nominated for an O’Brien Award, and made $341,726.
“Silver Label, what can you say about her,” said Millar. “She’s been good all year and is racing in her best form right now. She’s just a really nice filly, and a good filly to be around.”
Millar and Gallucci weren’t content with taking the top spot in each division, Raptors Won with Johnathan Drury driving charged home in :26.1 to finish in second place.
“Nick’s done a great job with all these fillies, and he’s just such a good trainer,” said Millar. “It was just a great night; we haven’t had one of these nights in a while.”
In Race 6, Velvet Stinger paid $37 for her first career Gold win.
The Bettors Delight daughter left from post three and, due to traffic, MacDonald sat well back of brisk opening panels of :26.1 and :54.3. She was still in sixth at the three-quarter pole before MacDonald found racing room and the filly took advantage.
“Velvet is a little champion,” said MacDonald. “She was buried the whole way, got shuffled, and when she got daylight, she just launched.”
Just before the wire, she passed I Love Ongait and won by a head, setting a lifetime mark of 1:52. It was the sixth win this season for the George Millar homebred, but first against top tier competition.
“I was just thrilled to see Velvet Stinger win,” said Millar. “She’s had a lot of unfortunate races, and mishaps, and should have finished better than she did. It’s just nice to see that after getting shuffled to the back of the field, she could come on and win the race. She’s such a tough little filly.”
Velvet Stinger is the fifth sophomore filly to win a Gold this season and joins her stablemates Silver Label and Prohibition Legal as contenders in the crowded division with just one leg left before Super Final night.
Ivory Hanover led every step from the pylon post to take the first of two $21,400 OSS Grassroots splits. The Clark Beelby trainee pushed from the pylon post in rein to Doug McNair and clicked fractions of :26.4, :56.3 and 1:24 while enduring mid-race pressure from Girl In A Tavern. Repelling that challenger, she strode home a 1-1/2-length winner in 1:52.2 over pocket-sitter Morethanmyhometown with second-over Addictivebehaviour grabbing third.
Coyote Wynd Farms owns Ivory Hanover, a filly by Bettors Delight. She won her second race from 22 starts and added to her account now worth $52,696. She paid $4.90 to win.
The other Grassroots division went to Dewitt For Josie, who utilized similar front-stepping tactics to stop the clock in 1:51.2. Driver Jody Jamieson protected position from the pylons with Dewitt For Josie and kept her competitors to her back by stomping splits of :26.3, :55.3 and 1:23.4. She maintained her speed to the finish, besting pocket-sitter Creme Delight by 1-1/2 lengths with Girl Scout Cookie another four lengths back in third and Quebecoise in fourth.
Dr. Ian Moore trains Dewitt For Josie, a daughter of Sportswriter, for owner Let It Ride Stables Inc. She won her fifth race from 23 starts and has now banked $105,413. She paid $6.70 to win.
In the lone $7,200 Prospect Series division for three-year-old pacing fillies, trainer Mandy Archer notched one of her three wins on the night with a coast-to-coast victory by the Sportswriter filly Just Call Me Song. Guy Gagnon sent Just Call Me Song for the front and carved a clip of :28, :57.3 and 1:25.3 to stop the clock in 1:53.1 and finish 5-1/2 lengths in front of odds-on favourite Arkell. Just Call Me Song, a four-time winner and earner of $57,499, races for owners Jamie Copley, Louis-Philippe Roy, Michel Letarte and Jean Allaire. She paid $13 to win and was the second of Archer's three winners. Her other two wins came in the opener with Windsong Grayson ($5.40 to win) and later in the card with Cortez The Killer ($3.40).
Odds-on favourite Armor Seelster swept around dueling leaders to take the $10,500 Preferred Handicap Pace on the stakes undercard. Jody Jamieson caught cover behind first-over The Light Speed as he challenged pacesetter Day Delight past a :27 first quarter and into middle fractions of :55.1 and 1:23.1. With fresh legs, Jamieson angled Armor Seelster off cover rounding the final turn and slid to a two-length lead in the stretch to stop the clock in 1:51.4. The Light Speed held second while Flash Cube came from third over for third.
A four-year-old gelding by Bettors Delight, Armor Seelster won his ninth race from 33 starts and has now earned $164,448. Gabby Sasso trains the gelding, who paid $2.20 to win, for owners Jeff Courchesne and Martwest Racing Stable.
To view Sunday's harness racing results, click the following link: Sunday Results - Rideau Carleton Raceway.
(with files from Ontario Sires Stakes)