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So Much More Steamrolls Distaffers

Published: June 11, 2021 9:02 pm ET

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Harness racing action returned to Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday evening, and headlining the 11-race program was the $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Pace.

A strong group of six faced the new, slanted starting gate including last year’s O’Brien Award winner as the nation’s Older Pacing Mare of the Year, So Much More.

It was Karma Seelster who rushed out from Post 5 to grab the early lead in the featured affair, and she had the field chasing her past the opening quarter in :27.2. She coughed up the lead in the backstretch, however, when the heavily-favoured So Much More teed off from the four-hole for driver James MacDonald.

So Much More cleared to the top at the mid-way point in :56.1 and then rolled the group to the three-quarter pole in 1:24.4. She then stormed home in :26.4 to win by a length over Ivana Flybye N in 1:51.3. Karma Seelster was beaten that same margin while finishing third.

Sent off as the 2-5 favourite, So Much More extended her winning streak to three-in-a-row for trainer/co-owner Don Beatson. He shares ownership on the five-year-old daughter of Big Jim-Ladysai with Kenn Beatson and Cole England. The partners watched their four-legged ATM improve her 2021 record to 3-3-0 from seven assignments. The 34-time winner pushed her lifetime earnings over $600,000 with the victory.

The win was the first for MacDonald since returning from his stint stateside, driving at tracks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for five weeks while Ontario's harness racing industry was placed on pause.

"When we were going into the last lockdown I considered it but we were just hoping for the best – a couple of weeks and get back at it," MacDonald told Trot Insider. "The third time around it was a little more evident early that it wasn’t going to be a quick fix so I pulled the trigger. Originally it started out and I took a suitcase down and I’ll go down for a couple of weeks and then it turned out to be more than a month. It was a great trip. I had a lot of fun racing, met lots of new people and had some luck, too, so that was the big thing."

MacDonald joined fellow WEG regulars Bob McClure and Doug McNair in the driving ranks at tracks like Harrah's Philadelphia and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and The Meadowlands at a time when those tracks boast unprecedented depth. The Canadians certainly held their own.

"We weren’t coming down to prove anything or do anything like that, we were just coming down to have some luck racing....I’m not taking anything away from [the American drivers], I’m just saying that other people at the top of our circuit – Bob and Doug and Sylvain [Filion] – those guys don’t win races by accident. They win races no matter where they are in the world. I think it’s good for Canadian racing and good for some of the trainers. Maybe if they have that good horse they won’t be as itchy on the trigger finger to swap somebody out."

Certainly no stranger to driving against the mainstays in those driving colonies, MacDonald spoke highly of the professionalism shown to the Canadian invaders during the stateside stretch.

"The guys [in the PA and NJ driving colonies] have been great. They’ve been more than accommodating. The drivers have been helping out because it’s hard to get on a schedule down here to figure out where you should go and what you should do. There’s a lot of options. You really have to be on top of your business because the travel can get away on your for sure.

"They’re all professionals and at the end of the day we’re all horsemen. For the most part everyone [looked at the predicament we faced and] said 'they can’t race up there and they’re not making any money.' We’re all looking for the same goal — make a little money and have a little success."

MacDonald noted a couple of individuals were key to making his stateside stint a success.

"Carmen Auciello got the ball rolling for me, he got me started and it picked up from there. I wouldn’t have been able to think about coming down here without him and his support," noted MacDonald. "I also want to thank my brother Mark because I stayed with him for the last few weeks. That takes a big weight off your shoulders from worrying about hotel rooms and costs. Having some family down here I got to stay with him and we travelled together a lot. It’s been a long time since we were able to hang out so it was fun on its own."

To view results for Friday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.

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