Silver Label Sizzles In Debut Saturday

Silver Label

With the first leg of the Ontario Sired Graduate Series on tap for next weekend, 2022 O'Brien Award winner Silver Label looks to be a serious threat in her division.

Now four, Silver Label made her 2023 debut during the Saturday (April 8) session of qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park and the pacing mare impressed in that first mile of the season.

With driver James MacDonald at the controls, Silver Label sat patiently throughout her morning test before being angled and asked in the stretch. After fractions of :28.2, :57.1 and 1:26, MacDonald right-lined Silver Label at the head of the lane and she responded willingly. Storming home in :27, she won by two lengths over Settn A Precedent (Tyler Jones) in 1:53.3.

"I cut probably 80 per cent of her races last year, and the ones I didn't cut I was probably first up, so anytime you can get a mile with other horses where you can just sit them on a helmet, let them trot home or pace home it's always beneficial for them in the long run," driver MacDonald told Trot Insider after the qualifiers. "Silver Label was just terrific and well within herself. She's just a really great mare and they rolled along enough for her. She got a good tightener and she should be ready to rock for next week."

Silver Label (Bettors Delight - Hidden Gem) is trained by Nick Gallucci for owner/breeder Millar Farms of Stouffville, Ont. Her stablemate and 2022 O'Brien Award finalist Velvet Stinger was also entered to qualify but that mare made a miscue around the far turn after being slightly steppy leaving the gate. MacDonald noted that the connections switched shoes from steel (worn last week) to aluminum (worn last year) for this week's test and indicated that might have been the reason for break in stride.

"I'm not too worried about it. I don't think it's anything that Nick can't handle. He'll get her fixed up and she'll right back, firing on all cylinders."

MacDonald also had his first charted line behind 2022 O'Brien Award winner Adare Castle. That four-year-old finished third to a horse she'll likely have to face against next week in the first leg of the Ontario-Sired Graduate Series — 2022 O'Brien Award finalist Safe Conduct. Chris Christoforou handled the son of Archangel - Safekeeping to a gate-to-wire score in 1:57.4, trotting home in :27.1.

Safe Conduct is trained by Chris' wife Camilla for  Charalambos Christoforou and Irvann Holdings Inc. The five-time winner will look to add to his $300,000 bankroll next week.

Adare Castle trotted home in :26.4 to finish one length in arrears of Safe Conduct, with her mile individually timed in 1:58 for trainer and co-owner Mark Etsell.

"[Mark] was pretty pleased with the qualifier," indicated MacDonald. "I landed third and there were a couple of good ones in front of me...and that's such a great part of driving for Mark. Usually everyone's on the same page. We would have liked to go in :55 and stretch right out but we took the chance to follow along and get a good last quarter in. I think she's plenty tight enough to go wherever you need next week."

The video stream from the qualifying session is available below.

For results from the qualifying session, click the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park (Qualifiers).

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