After battling against the province’s best two-year-old pacing fillies for the last two months, Power Of An Angel returned home to Hanover Raceway and found her way to the winner’s circle in the first of five $21,450 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions on Saturday (Sept. 4).
“Finally something went our way, and we got a little lucky,” said trainer Roger Gebhardt. “I always liked her. She was a very nice filly. I broke her and trained her down, and then I sent her down to Martin Lachance for four months, expecting her to do well in the Golds, and things didn’t turn out. She had some really bad luck in the Gold Series.”
Fortune smiled on Power Of An Angel on Saturday as she left well from post two and tucked in behind favourite Warrawee Xpat. As that filly rang up fractions of :28.4, 1:00.1 and 1:29, and then fought off a challenge from Speaker Nancy around the final turn, driver James MacDonald waited for his opportunity with Power Of An Angel. Coming off the turn, he slid Power Of An Angel three-wide, and the filly sprinted home to a one-length victory in 1:58.2. Speaker Nancy finished second and Warrawee Xpat settled for third.
“I was just really fortunate. A lot of times you don’t get out of the two-hole there, but I got to kind of swing out across, and when she saw some real estate at the top of the stretch, she went by,” said MacDonald, who drove the filly for the first time. “She’s a nice filly, and she was racing against a lot tougher, so it was good to see her get some confidence and get a ‘W.’”
Power Of An Angel made two starts in the Gold Series, finishing sixth and eighth, and also took on North America’s best in the August 28 Eternal Camnation, where she finished sixth. The Sunshine Beach daughter’s only top-three finish came in a July 29 overnight event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, where she was second by a neck.
“Martin (Lachance) had her ready; it just wasn’t working out, so I decided to bring her home and race her,” said Gebhardt, whose wife, Carol, owns Power Of An Angel. “I thought she was a better filly than what she’s turned out to be, but who knows? It’s surprising how they get a bit of confidence — she might — she’s faster than what she’s shown so far. Anyway, we’re quite happy today to finally get the monkey off our back.”
Gebhardt expects Power Of An Angel will make her next start in the fifth Grassroots leg, at Woodbine Mohawk Park on September 20, with an eye to finishing among the top 20 point earners and qualifying for the September 30 Grassroots Semi-Final. The top five finishers from each Semi-Final advance to the October 9 Grassroots Championship.
In addition to Power Of An Angel, MacDonald also drove Girl Scout Cookie and In The Mood to their first Ontario Sires Stakes victories on Saturday. He employed similar stalking tactics with Girl Scout Cookie, who slipped out from behind Winx in the stretch and paced away to a one-length victory in 1:58.2. Winx finished second and Maddigal was third.
Joe Pereira trains State Treasurer daughter Girl Scout Cookie for William Johnstone and William Gillan.
In the fourth $21,450 Grassroots division, MacDonald and In The Mood controlled all the fractions on their way to a 1:58.2 victory. Ribbon Ridge and Goudawon finished one length behind the favourite in second and third, respectively. Shawn Steacy trains Sunshine Beach daughter In The Mood for Katherine Steacy and breeder Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc.
“It was a terrific day in Hanover,” said MacDonald. “It rarely happens. You go to those half-mile tracks and it’s pretty tough ... I guess I just had the right ones and the right posts today.”
Immediately after steering In The Mood to her third lifetime win, MacDonald was heading home to prepare for a big night of Grand Circuit racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park with drives in races totalling $1.76 million.
“Like I said in an interview last night, sometimes it’s good to just kind of get away and go race somewhere else so you don’t dwell on what’s going on tonight, on a big stake night,” said MacDonald of his choice to compete in Hanover. “You’ve got to go and drive for the people that got you to where you’re at, so in that sense it’s an easy decision.”
The other two Grassroots divisions were also won by drivers with major stakes drives on Saturday night. Louis-Philippe Roy piloted division point leader Dewitt For Josie to the fastest mile of the five divisions in the second split, and Bob McClure of wrapped up the stakes action with T Time Pat.
Dewitt For Josie scored her third Grassroots win with an effortless front-end effort that saw her trip the timer at 1:57.2. Motovation and Mara Lou finished 1-1/2 lengths behind the fan favourites. Roy steers the Sportswriter daughter for trainer Rene Bourassa and owner Gilles Caouette.
T Time Pat got a neck in front to earn her first lifetime win in a 1:58 clocking, besting Better Catch Girl and Best Watch Out. McClure drove the Betterthancheddar daughter to the win for trainer John Pentland and owner-breeder Alan Bodin.
A single Ontario Prospect Series event for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings buoyed the undercard, and Resolute Bay overcame a back-row start to take the $7,400 event in 2:04.2. The Resolve gelding latched onto third-over cover nearing the half, launched a three-wide bid up the backstretch, and ground down even-money favourite Rolling In Clover before scooting to a 1-1/4-length win over Arch Ruler. Travis Henry drove the two-time winner for trainer Johnny McKinnon and Thestable Resolute Bay.
For Saturday's complete results, click the following link: Saturday Results – Hanover Raceway.
(Ontario Sires Stakes)