They may have had to travel over a "sloppy" track, but three-year-old trotting fillies P L Opportunity and I Da Princess still managed to look impressive as they wrapped their Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots regular season at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Tuesday (Sept. 21).
P L Opportunity kicked off the Grassroots action on the rain-soaked oval, lining at post six in the first $22,500 division with driver Trevor Henry at the controls. The pair eased away from the starting gate and settled in fifth as Tealicious led the field to a :28.1 quarter, swinging into the outer lane heading for the :57.2 half. Within hailing distance of the pacesetter by the 1:25.4 three-quarters, P L Opportunity continued to advance down the stretch, collaring Tealicious in the final strides of the 1:54.3 mile. Favourite Rubys Are Nice finished three lengths back in third.
“I was really happy with her, because with three weeks off there I thought she might be a little bit short, but she showed a gutsy effort,” said owner/trainer Matt Dupuis of Rockwood, Ont., who had opted not to race the filly since her third-place finish in the Aug. 30 Grassroots event. “The last time she raced she wasn’t trotting very good so I had to do a few changes on her there, and Trev [Henry] said she was trotting really good tonight. He fits really good with her. He keeps her nice and quiet. He’s doing an awesome job, Trev. He’s driving her like he owns her.”
The win was P L Opportunity’s second in Grassroots action and bumped her up to fourth spot in the three-year-old trotting filly standings with 112 points. Dupuis will spend the next nine days preparing the Kadabra daughter for the October 1 Semi-Finals, which will feature the top 20 point earners.
“I just train her lightly, that’s all I do. I don’t do much with her, try to just keep her happy and healthy and fresh,” said the owner-trainer. “They are getting tired this time of year, that’s why I didn’t race her for three weeks there, trying to keep her fresh for the Semi-Finals. That’s what I was more worried about.”
Driver Jody Jamieson opted for a similar trip from post 6 in the second division, but favourite I Da Princess had the benefit of following Pixies Lady as they advanced on pacesetter Midnight Miracle. Sliding into an open lane in the stretch, I Da Princess steadily reeled in Midnight Miracle, getting a neck in front at the 1:56 finish. Edgewater completed the top three, 4-1/2 lengths behind the leaders.
“She’s just a sweetheart to drive and she’s been strong since hitting the Grassroots,” said Guelph, Ont. resident Jamieson, who drives I Da Princess for trainer William McClure of Brampton and his co-owner John McClure of Georgetown, Ont.
I Da Princess has logged two wins, one second and one fifth in Grassroots action for a point tally of 130 and sole ownership of third spot in the standings. The Il Sogno Dream daughter heads into the post season riding a four-race win streak.
The top 20 point earners will now be looking for a top-five finish in the October 1 Semi-Finals in order to advance to the Grassroots Championships at Woodbine Mohawk Park on October 9.
On Friday, Sept. 24, Woodbine Mohawk Park hosts the last Gold Series leg for the three-year-old pacing fillies. The fillies will wrap up their regular season in Race 5 on the Friday evening card, which gets under way at 7 p.m. (EDT). Fans can download a program and watch the live stream on the Woodbine Mohawk Park website.
To view Tuesday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Tuesday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.
(Ontario Sires Stakes)