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Import Firebby A Downs Mohawk Mares

Published: June 2, 2018 12:08 am ET

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Australian import Firebby A closed with a fury in the stretch to maintain her perfect North American record with a victory in the $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday night's program, which also featured Ontario Sires Stakes action.

Recently acquired by David Kryway and trainer Ronald Adams, the six-year-old Courage Under Fire mare made her first start on Canadian soil a winning one with Louis-Philippe Roy in the bike and extended her North American win streak to five in a row.

The Joy Luck Club (Chris Christoforou) was sent postward as the 6-5 favourite following her upset victory in last week's edition and she hustled off the gate from post six to take command through a :27.3 opening quarter. After a half in :56, the mares began to make their moves. Bettors Up (Doug McNair) swept up from third en route to three-quarters in 1:23.3 with Artistic Madison (Jonathan Drury) and Firebby A already underway. She eventually overtook The Joy Luck Club in the stretch, but Firebby A fired home in :26.2 to prevail by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.1 as the 3-1 second wagering choice.

The victory was her 19th lifetime from 61 starts and lifted her earnings to $125,943. She started her North American campaign in April with wins stateside at The Meadowlands and Yonkers.

Freshman Grassroots champion Pretty Handsome picked up where he left off last season, scoring a victory in the three-year-old pacing colt season opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday, but this time there was nothing controversial about the win.

“He got his regular reinsman JD (Jonathan Drury) back on him tonight and picked up where he left off last year. This start we didn’t win by default, we won outright,” said trainer Andrew McCabe with a chuckle, referring to last September’s Grassroots Championship where Pretty Handsome was awarded the win after Phantom Seelster was placed from first to ninth for causing interference in the stretch.

In Friday’s rematch, Drury and Pretty Handsome lined up at post seven while Phantom Seelster and driver Sylvain Filion were at post four. Big Talking Man roared away from post 10 to a :26.4 opening quarter so Filion dropped Phantom Seelster into fourth on the rail and Drury tucked Pretty Handsome right behind the favourite in fifth. When Filion and Phantom Seelster made their move into the outer lane before the :55.2 half, Drury tipped Pretty Handsome out in their wake and tagged along through the 1:52.1 three-quarters. Turning for home, Drury gave Pretty Handsome a clear look at the wire and the gelding powered by Phantom Seelster and on to a 1:52.1 victory. The Downtown Bus and My Teen Idol also reeled in the favourite, finishing second and third.

The fair and square win was Pretty Handsome’s first this season, coming on the heels of two starts against older horses, one at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 5 and the other at The Raceway at Western Fair District on May 21.

“He just had to get in with his own kind. It’s pretty tough when they have success as a two-year-old; they’ve got to start out pretty tough as a three-year-old,” noted McCabe. “That’s why he ran to London his last start, just to kind of try and braven him up. (Driver) Nick (Steward) did a good job of that.”

Guelph-Eramosa resident McCabe trains Pretty Handsome for Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Wallenstein, Ont. Through 10 lifetime starts, the son of Mach Three now has five wins and one second for earnings of $66,710.

The fastest of the five Grassroots divisions was clocked by Hudson Phil, who romped to a seven-length victory in 1:51.3. Montys Play and Shadow Of Lindy took second and third-place honours.

Both a Grassroots and a Gold Series winner at two, Friday’s victory was Hudson Phil’s first of the sophomore campaign.

“He was very good. He had to start this year in pretty tough and we tried not to be too hard on him,” noted driver James MacDonald. “He drew well today and he performed just how we expected. He powered to the front and won pretty easy. Hopefully he keeps progressing.”

The win gave Guelph resident MacDonald and trainer Mark Steacy of Lansdowne, Ont. three Grassroots wins at Woodbine Mohawk Park in the last two days. The trainer/driver duo also captured a pair of wins with three-year-old pacing fillies Hello Love and Lady Bubbles on Thursday evening.

Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Que. bred and owns Hudson Phil. The son of Shanghai Phil now boasts a record of four wins, two seconds, three thirds and earnings of $181,232 in 14 starts.

The last division saw local colt Uptown Funk earn his first lifetime victory, getting a neck in front of pacesetter Sporty Mustang at the wire in 1:55.1. Campbellville resident Mike Saftic engineered the victory for trainer Bill Cass of Milton and his partner John Craig of North York, Ont.

The son of Shadow Play and former Ontario Sires Stakes competitor Lucks Mistress made just two starts last season and had one sophomore start — a second at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 21 — under his belt prior to Friday’s victory.

“He raced good last week, in his first race of the year, and I thought he had a good shot if the trip went his way, and it did,” said Saftic, who also piloted the gelding in his May 14 qualifier at the Campbellville oval.

After finishing second three times, third once and fourth twice during his freshman Grassroots campaign, JM Jack Of Hearts finally found the winner’s circle in Friday’s fourth division. The Shadow Play gelding and driver Trevor Henry of Arthur sailed across the finish line three lengths the best in 1:52.3, besting Gideon Seelster and Taste Of History.

Flamborough resident Isabelle Darveau conditions the consistent JM Jack Of Hearts for owner Jason Redmond of Smithville, Ont.

The other Grassroots division saw Yacht Seelster record his second straight victory with a 1:52 effort for driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, trainer Paul Reid and owner 1187422 Ontario Inc. of Ottawa, Ont. The Shadow Play son finished one and one-half lengths ahead of Family Sports and Gold Rush.

The three-year-old pacing colts will make their second Grassroots start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 29.

Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at the Campbellville oval on Monday, June 4 with the Gold Series season opener for the three-year-old trotting fillies. The first race gets under way at 7:30 p.m. and the trotting fillies will battle for a total of $190,400 in races two and eight.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.

(With files from OSS)

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