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Stars To Debut In Mohawk Qualifiers

Published: May 26, 2020 11:42 am ET

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With the first qualifying dates drawn for Woodbine Mohawk Park, harness racing is officially ready to resume in Ontario.

Qualifiers are spread out across four dates between Thursday, May 28 and Tuesday, June 2, and those four sessions feature many 2019 standouts that are primed, prepped and ready to make 2020 debuts.

The Thursday (May 28) card features eight qualifying races for three-year-old colts.

The most accomplished of the three-year-olds set to compete on Thursday is NYSS standout Groovy Joe. The son of Roll With Joe - Chotat Milk compiled a solid 7-3-0 record from 10 starts last year for Hutt Racing Stable of Malvern, Penn and trainer / co-owner Blake MacIntosh of St. George, Ont. with more than $230,000 in earnings. MacIntosh has more Grand Circuit aspirations for Groovy Joe in 2020.

“He’s matured a lot,” MacIntosh stated in an interview with Trot Insider earlier this month.. “I think that’s a big reason why I’m so high on him. Last year he was a little small and a little frail, but this year he’s filled out a lot to a nice size. He’s the same size as Courtly [Choice] now. He’s just got a little ‘go’ to him and a little fight. I like him, he’s just a really nice horse who just does everything right.”

Sports Obsession, the 2019 Battle of Waterloo champ, will make his 2020 debut from post eight in the eighth qualifier for the father / son duo of Carl and Jody Jamieson. Sports Obsession (Sportswriter - Hayworth Blue Chip) earned $199,185 in 10 freshman starts, taking his lifetime mark of 1:53 in his first career start in a two-year-old conditioned race at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Other notable pacing colts to highlight the Thursday card of qualifiers are OSS Gold winner Beach Blanket Book for MacIntosh and driver Doug McNair, and 2019 OSS Grassroots Champion Mayhem Hanover who makes his 2020 debut for Doug and Gregg McNair.

The Friday (May 29) card features a star-studded group of pacing fillies and mares throughout eight qualifiers.

Highlighting the card of qualifiers is 2019's O’Brien Award winner for two-year-old pacing fillies, Alicorn. Alicorn earned $536,907 during her rookie season which included victories in three OSS Gold Legs and the OSS Gold Super Final, Eternal Camnation, with runner-up finishes in the Shes A Great Lady, Battle Of The Belles and her Breeders Crown elimination. The daughter of Bettors Delight - Mythical took a lifetime best of 1:50.3 for trainer Chantal Mitchell and driver Louis-Philippe Roy.

“The sharper she gets, the more you have to be careful,” Mitchell recently told Trot Insider. “So right now she’s in top shape and ready to race. She’s firing on all cylinders in the barn.”

Last year's Battle Of The Belles winner Karma Seelster will also make her 2020 debut this Friday. The daughter of Sportswriter - Kiddie Cocktail made four trips to the winner's circle as a two-year old, with major victories in an OSS Gold leg and both her elimination and final of the Battle Of The Belles. Karma Seelster earned $262,205 and took a lifetime mark of 1:52.4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Karma Seelster is campaigned by trainer Gregg McNair, with son Doug listed to drive on Friday.

Another of the 2019 O’Brien Award winners, Sunny Dee will also make her first start as an older competitor after being named Canada's three-year-old pacing filly of the year this past February. Sunny Dee’s major victories include the Ontario SBOA, Fan Hanover Consolation, USS Indy, and two Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division. A daughter of Sunshine Beach - West Of L A, Sunny Dee took a lifetime best of 1:49.4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park for trainer Bob McIntosh while earning $601,617. Trevor Henry gets the call to drive.

O’Brien Award finalist Boadicea makes her 2020 debut with a new driver at the controls: Doug McNair. Boadicea was a sensational player in the 2019 Ontario Sires Stakes program winning three OSS Gold legs before capturing the 2019 OSS Super Final. The daughter of Big Jim - Rose Seelster earned $417,652 in 2019 for trainer Bill Budd, pacing to her life's mark of 1:49 at Mohawk on three occasions.

Before Sunny Dee, the O'Brien Award winner in the three-year-old pacing filly division was Shower Play. She'll make 2020 debut after a less-than-ideal 2019 season in which co-owner Susie Kerwood saw many signs for optimism in 2020.

"I think if she would have struggled and struggled and struggled last year we would have just bred her, but that :47 mile, she was amazing," Kerwood told Trot Insider last month. "I would have loved to see if she was a little closer if maybe she could have been second in that race, not that third wasn't amazing. So, we started to jog her back and she was sound and x-rayed clean and everything else is great on her. She’s full of herself, she is happy she is back working and she wants to go fast."

Monday’s card of qualifiers predominantly features three-year-old trotting fillies making their 2020 debuts to start the month of June.

Multiple OSS Gold winner Warrawee Vicky, a winner of $173,265 in her two-year-old season will debut for trainer Scott McEneny and driver Doug McNair. Archrival Jula Shes Magic also debuts for trainer Susie Kerwood and driver Jody Jamieson. Jula Shes Magic earned $208,612 in 2019 and captured the 2019 OSS Super Final last October.

OSS Gold winners Wine Rack Hanover and She Rocks Kemp will also make their seasonal debuts on Monday morning.

Saving the best for last, the Tuesday (June 2) card features trotters ages three and up, and is headlined by 2019 Horse of the Year Forbidden Trade. The Hambletonian winner earned $1,077,685 with wins also coming in three OSS Gold legs and the 2019 OSS Super Final while finishing second in the Yonkers Trot and the Goodtimes. The son of Kadabra - Pure Ivory took a lifetime mark of 1:51 at The Meadowlands for owner Determination, trainer Luc Blais and driver Bob McClure.

"He's coming back the way he's supposed to," trainer Luc Blais told Trot Insider two weeks ago. "He's bigger, stronger, more mature, more everything. All the qualities he had at three, he's got more. You can see the difference; it's good."

Last year's OSS Grassroots Champion Lovedbythemasses will also make his 2020 debut for trainer Ed Peconi and driver Mike Saftic. A son of Muscle Mass, Lovedbythemasses went 5-for-7 in 2019 and earned $88,125.

Crossfit Mouse and Blue Cupertino -- OSS Gold winners as two-year-olds in 2019 -- will make sophomore debuts on Tuesday as well as Define The World winner Horse Trader. But they'll face a tough task with rivals including divisional champion HP Royal Theo.

"He got a little -- I wouldn't say bigger -- but more wide, more bulk," Ben Baillargeon told Trot Insider in early May. "He's a little bit more mature. I trained him all winter with another horse and I made him sit in a hole. He does what I want him to do."

A son of 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life, HP Royal Theo put together a solid rookie season for owners Claude Hamel and Michel Damphousse, winning three races and banking more than $286,000 to earn him the O’Brien Bronze as Canada’s Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year.

Another 2019 O'Brien Award winner from the stable of Bob McIntosh, Only Take Cash will make her first 2020 appearance over the Campbellville surface on Tuesday morning. Only Take Cash made seven trips to the winner's circle in 2019, including victories in the Casual Breeze and a sweep of the Ohio Sire Stakes divisions and Super Final. The daughter of Cash Hall earned $511,726 in 2019 and took a mark of 1:53.4 at Scioto Downs.

Woodbine Entertainment will be live streaming the qualifiers from Mohawk Park on its YouTube channel and official website. HPItv customers that subscribe to the HPItv Canada channel will also be able to watch the qualifiers live. The qualifying sessions can also be watched live on the Standardbred Canada website.

Post time each morning will be at 9:30 a.m. Mark McKelvie will announce the qualifiers Thursday, which will start streaming approximately 10-15 minutes prior to 9:30 a.m.

Entries and program pages for the upcoming qualifiers can be downloaded via the links that appear below.

◈ Qualifiers – Thursday, May 28: Entries || PDF Program Pages || TrackIT Program Pages

◈ Qualifiers – Friday, May 29: Entries || PDF Program Pages || TrackIT Program Pages

◈ Qualifiers – Monday, June 1: Entries || PDF Program Pages || TrackIT Program Pages

◈ Qualifiers – Tuesday, June 2: Entries || PDF Program Pages || TrackIT Program Pages

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