Ontario’s talented three-year-old pacing fillies kicked off an exciting night of stakes action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday, Sept. 17 with a dead heat finish in the first $22,150 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots division.
Favourites Cyclone Sister and James MacDonald left smartly from post nine and led the field to a :27.3 opening quarter before yielding to Chiefs Dream Girl, who carried on to a :56.1 half. Heading for the 1:24.2 three-quarters, Shes A Sassy Beach led the parade of challengers up the outer lane, followed by Beach Moment and Saulsbrook Olympia. Turning for home, Dexter Dunn angled Saulsbrook Olympia into an open lane while MacDonald was begging for room behind the pacesetter. Chiefs Dream Girl edged over just enough for Cyclone Sister to squeeze up the pylons while Saulsbrook Olympia took aim on the wire on the outside and the three fillies hit the wire in lock-step.
After a careful examination of the photograph, Cyclone Sister and Saulsbrook Olympia were declared co-winners in 1:51.4, a personal best for both fillies. Chiefs Dream Girl was a short head back in third.
“It looked like she was having trouble finding room up the inside, but as soon as it opened up, it looked like she was going to get there, then that horse on the outside came flying with Dexter Dunn,” said Nick Gallucci, who trains Shadow Play daughter Cyclone Sister for owner/breeder Millar Farms of Stouffville, Ont.
Dunn drove Big Jim daughter Saulsbrook Olympia to her first Ontario Sires Stakes win for trainer Brian Lee and owners Saulsbrook Stables Inc. of Windsor, N.S., and Edward Gorc of Sudbury, Ont. Both fillies will be back at Woodbine Mohawk Park for the October 1 Grassroots Semi-Finals.
Gallucci, MacDonald and Millar Farms were back in the winner’s circle after the second division with Sweet Pink, who took a near identical tour around the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval, but was able to slide to the right around favourite Voluptuous in the stretch and pace home a one-length winner in 1:52.4. Shes Got It All closed for second, leaving Voluptuous to settle for third.
The win was Sweet Pink’s third in Grassroots action and boosted her to top spot in the division standings with 165 points.
“It’s really a nice feather in her cap. She deserves it,” said Stouffville, Ont. resident Gallucci of the Bettors Delight daughter. “She’s been at every Grassroots this year, no matter where it was, and when the money was on the line, she always gave a good effort, so I am really happy she was able to take down the points leadership.”
Andra Day got her second Grassroots win of the season in the third division and moved up to third spot in the standings with 125 points.
In rein to Doug McNair, the Shadow Play daughter got a pocket trip behind former stablemate Alumni Seelster and then waged a fierce battle with Docs Delight down the stretch, prevailing by a head in 1:53.1. P L Orchid rounded out the top three.
“The little black filly was pretty good. She tries every time she races and gives you all she’s got. She can’t really go a whole lot faster than 1:53, that’s what it seems like, but she’ll fight one in the right class, that’s for sure,” said trainer Dr. Ian Moore. “She’s been a good little filly for us all along.”
Cambridge, Ont. resident Moore trains Andra Day, who was a two-time Gold Series winner as a two-year-old, for Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Bottom Line Racing LLC of Boca Raton, Florida.
The final division saw Village Jade and driver Sylvain Filion control the pace from start to finish, stopping the teletimer at 1:53.3. Always Watching was three-quarters of a length back in second and Amini edged out fan favourite Game Of Shadows for third.
Milton, Ont. resident Filion engineered the Bettors Delight daughter’s first Grassroots victory for trainer Susanne Kerwood of Acton, Ont., and her co-owner M and L of Delaware LLC of Wilmington, Delaware. Adding the win to her second and fourth-place finishes in Grassroots action, Village Jade jumped from 20th to 10th in the standings, guaranteeing her spot in the Semi-Finals.
The top 20 point-earners will compete in the October 1 Semi-Finals, with the top five finishers from each Semi-Final advancing to the Grassroots Championships on October 9 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
On Saturday, Sept. 18, the two-year-old trotting colts will be part of another exciting night of Grand Circuit action at Woodbine Mohawk Park, competing in a $159,600 Gold Series division in the sixth race of a star-studded card. All the action gets underway at 7 p.m., and fans can download a program and watch the live stream on the track’s website or register to attend in person.
To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.
(With files from OSS)