Friday’s Ontario Sires Stakes season opener at Western Fair Raceway will serve as a testing ground for a pair of three-year-old fillies trained by Dorchester, Ont. resident John Pentland
Pentland will harness Patsys Luck in the first of two $40,000 Gold eliminations for the sophomore pacing fillies, and Quantum Victoria in the first of three eliminations for the trotting lasses. Patsys Luck heads into her first-ever provincial test off a smart 1:57.4 victory at Western Fair in the first leg of the City of London Pacing Series, and Pentland is not ruling out a return to that class following Friday’s test.
“She gets around turns great, so I think she’ll be okay,” says the horseman, who trains Patsys Luck for his wife Natalie Pentland of Dorchester and Synerco Ventures Inc. of Toronto, Ont. “She might fit in with the Gold bunch, but I know that Ian (Fleming) told me — when I entered her in that City of London Pacing Series two weeks ago and told him what I was thinking of doing — he said the seven hole in the City of London Pacing Series final would be easier than the rail in the Gold final, and he’s right.”
Patsys Luck and driver Mike Saftic face just four other fillies from Post 2 in Friday’s first race, but the field includes two stand-outs from the 2010 season. Monkey On My Wheel was a narrowly beaten second in the season ending Super Final — which featured the top Gold Series fillies — while Camille romped to victory in both her Grassroots semifinal and the championship last October at Western Fair. Camille will parade back on to the London half-mile wearing the Post 1 saddle cloth in Friday’s first race, while Monkey On My Wheel gets Post 3.
Unraced at two due to a minor injury, Patsys Luck is the least experienced of the 11 fillies entered in the Gold Series season opener, but Pentland and her owners are hoping for a productive sophomore season from the daughter of prolific Ontario sire Camluck.
“She’s a Camluck out of an Artsplace mare,” notes the trainer. “I was really surprised that we got her for $40,000 (US). She’s a really correct filly, not real big, but really correct. The same kind of size as Luck Of Michelle or Warm Waffles. I’m surprised they let her go for $40,000.”
Through her first five starts the filly has returned $25,200 to her owners, and they would love to see her add to that total with a sizeable share of Friday’s $40,000 Gold elimination purse.
The second pacing filly elimination features Super Final champion Modern Connection from Post 6, along with five other veterans of the 2010 Gold Series. Last year’s Battle of the Belles winner Village Janus gets Post 1 and two-time freshman Gold final winner Lauren gets Post 3, with Look Cheap, Shipps Xanadu and Mach Lady rounding out the field from Posts 2, 4 and 5.
The top four finishers from each elimination will return to Western Fair Raceway on Friday, May 27 for a shot at the first $130,000 Gold final title.
Joining the pacing fillies will be the top finishers from this Friday’s trotting filly Gold eliminations. With 23 fillies raring to get their sophomore season started, only the top two finishers from the three Gold eliminations will advance, along with two third-place finishers selected by random draw.
Quantum Victoria and Jody Jamieson will make their bid for a top spot from Post 4 in the eighth race, and Pentland admits that Jamieson is the reason the filly earned a spot on the rail for Friday’s early season test.
“I was kind of pleasantly surprised with the qualifier,” says Pentland of the filly’s 1:58.1 effort over an off track at Mohawk Racetrack on May 16. “We didn’t know if we were going to go Grassroots or Gold. Jody had schooled her the week before and she schooled real handy in 2:02, then when she qualified so well, I was still on the fence, but Jody thought she was ready for the Gold, so he had a better idea than I did.
“She’s kind of a fast thing,” he adds. “But I don’t know how much she can trot, if she can trot much more than 1:57.”
Karen Carroll of Shedden, Ont. owns Quantum Victoria, who was a $35,000 purchase at the Lexington Selected Sale in 2009, and sent the filly to Pentland in mid-February. The horseman says the filly has been easy to get along with and straightforward to train, noting that his primary goal has been to help the young trotter learn to keep her cool on the racetrack. Through 14 starts as a two-year-old, Quantum Victoria posted one win and four thirds for earnings of $50,300, but she also made a few untimely errors.
Quantum Victoria squares off against two-time freshman Gold final winner Extraordinaire from Post 1 in the first $40,000 elimination, while reigning Super Final champion Oh Sweet Baby gets Post 1 in the second split. Peach Martini will attempt to avenge her narrow loss in the Super Final from Post 2 in the second elimination, while L A Freeway looks to recapture the form she demonstrated late in her freshman campaign from Post 4 in the last Gold elimination.
With only the top two finishers guaranteed a spot in next Friday’s $130,000 Gold final, fans can expect the tempo to be sharp and the gloves to be off early.
Along with the Gold Series eliminations on Friday’s 7:05 pm program, Western Fair Raceway fans will also be treated to a pair of $20,000 eliminations for the Molson Pace along with the second leg of the City of London Trotting Series.
To view entries for Friday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Entries - Western Fair Raceway.