Morgan Mares Seek Mohawk Stakes Success

Grace Hill winning at Woodbine Mohawk Park
Published: June 15, 2023 01:53 pm EDT

Virgil Morgan Jr. has nothing but good things to say about female pacer Grace Hill and female trotter Refined heading into Saturday’s stakes action at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and it is easy to understand why.

Grace Hill (pictured above), the 2022 Breeders Crown Mare Pace champion, brings a seven-race win streak to the $305,000 Roses Are Red final for older female pacers. The five-year-old mare has won her past five starts by at least one length, including a 1:50.1 score in her Roses Are Red elimination last week, when she defeated Amazing Dream N by 2-3/4 lengths.

Refined has hit the board in 41 of 57 races, winning 22, since joining Morgan’s training stable in 2021. The seven-year-old mare competes Saturday in the $210,000 Armbro Flight final for older female trotters, heading into the race off a second-place finish behind Raised By Lindy in her elimination last week.

Those two races are part of a stakes-filled card at Mohawk, headlined by the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old pacers. Joining the Roses Are Red and Armbro Flight on the undercard are the $420,000 Fan Hanover for three-year-old female pacers and the $250,000 Goodtimes for three-year-old male trotters.

Grace Hill’s win in her Roses Are Red elimination was her fourth of the season and 23rd in 50 career starts. The daughter of Always B Miki-Western Silk has earned $1.31 million for owner Tom Hill.

“She ended good last year, went out on a good note and she’s come back strong so far,” said Morgan. “She’s a little bigger, a little stronger. She won her elimination wrapped up with the earplugs in. I’m real happy with the way she’s been racing.

“There really is nothing I dislike about her and I’m pretty picky; I’ll pick one apart. She has great conformation. She doesn’t wear a boot, she doesn’t wear an overcheck, she’s really good gaited. She can get around any track.”

Grace Hill has won four of five career races at Mohawk, including last year’s Breeders Crown. Her other victories during her current winning streak include the TVG Series championship for female pacers at The Meadowlands, which closed out her 2022 campaign in November. Her first three starts this season were in the Open for fillies and mares at Eldorado Scioto Downs.

Treacherous Dragon, the 2022 Dan Patch Award winner for best three-year-old female pacer in the U.S., is the 8-5 morning-line favourite in the Roses Are Red after scoring by 1-3/4 lengths over O'Brien Award divisional winner Silver Label in 1:48.3 in her elimination. Anndrovette holds the Canadian record for a female pacer of 1:48, set in the 2013 Roses Are Red.

Treacherous Dragon will start the final from post two with Dexter Dunn driving for trainer Nancy Takter. Grace Hill and driver Doug McNair will leave from post four and are the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.

“[Grace Hill] really loves to track a horse and pass, but she’s also won on the front end,” said Morgan. “She doesn’t have to be a one-way horse. She doesn’t have to be on the front end and she doesn’t need a trip. She can rough it, do it either way. That’s huge.”

Refined will start the Armbro Flight from post one, also with McNair in the sulky, and is 8-1 on the morning line. Bella Bellini, the 2022 U.S. Trotter of the Year, is the 4-5 favourite off her 3-1/4-length elimination win over Canadian champion Adare Castle in 1:51.3 despite broken equipment. She will start from post five with Dunn driving for trainer Nifty Norman.

Raised By Lindy, who leaves from post three with Yannick Gingras driving for Domenico Cecere, is the 9-2 second choice.

Refined, a daughter of Uncle Peter-Reinvent, has won 33 of 94 career races and earned $805,228. She finished third behind Bella Bellini and Atlanta in last year’s Breeders Crown Mare Trot at Mohawk.

“She’s just a model of consistency,” said Morgan, who trains Refined for owners Joyce McClelland and Larry Wills. “She shows up every week and is so gritty, tries so hard. She likes to do her work and that’s huge. She, like Grace Hill, can do it either way. I’ve seen her sitting eighth and win, and she’s won in [1]:51-and-change on the front end.

“She raced really well last week. She might not be a favourite in there, but she’ll make her presence known. She’s a fun mare to have.”

To view Saturday's complete entries, click one of the following links: Saturday Entries - Woodbine Mohawk Park || Program Pages (courtesy TrackIT).

(With files from USTA)

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