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Filly's Win Triggers Flashback

Published: July 17, 2016 6:46 pm ET

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When Shanghai Sugar won her Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots division at Clinton Raceway on Sunday (July 17), Travis Henry and his partners experienced a moment of déjà vu.

Last season Henry, Craig Wood and Glen Wark watched their two-year-old pacing filly Tempus Seelster win her July 19 Grassroots division at Georgian Downs and then go on to win her Battle of the Belles elimination at Grand River Raceway one week later. Shanghai Sugar’s schedule is the same, and her connections are hoping she can match her stablemate’s success.

“It’s exciting because last year we had kind of the same thing. We bought Tempus Seelster for $10,000 out of the London sale and she took us on a bit of a ride; she won her Battle of the Belles elim and then she was sick in the final actually,” explained Henry. “So my partner Craig Wood said ‘Battle of the Belles take two, I guess.’ Hopefully we can get a better result.”

So far, Shanghai Sugar has followed the same path as Tempus Seelster. Acquired for just $9,000 from the Canadian Yearling Sale last fall, the daughter of Shanghai Phil and $563,299 winner Fast Lane Cruizin was Henry’s best youngster all winter.

“I started with three, and she was the best one out of them all,” said the Brantford resident, who conditions the filly for Craig Wood of Waterdown, Glen Wark of St. Catharines and his mother Linda Henry of Brantford. “She just was like an old racehorse the whole time. She loves her work and she has a really great attitude about everything she does.”

Henry and Shanghai Sugar lined up at post five in the first of three $18,000 Grassroots divisions at Clinton Raceway on Sunday and were sitting fourth when Lady Sherri reached the quarter pole in :30.4. With the favourites stacked up behind him, Henry opted to send Shanghai Sugar up the outside and the filly was sitting second at the 1:01.1 half. After reeling in Lady Sherri, Shanghai Sugar sailed on to a 1:31 three-quarters and then accelerated down the stretch to a four and one-half length victory in 2:00. Odysseus and Lady Sherri paced into second and third.

“I tried to quiet her down from her [July 1] qualifier because she was really aggressive, and you don’t really want them like that,” said Henry of the first-time starter. “So I added the hood with cups so she could kind of see behind her a little bit, and I put ear plugs in her.

“When I popped the ear plugs [today], she kind of just dropped into another gear. She was really good,” he added.

The Battle of the Belles eliminations are Monday, July 25, with the final slated for Monday, Aug. 1. Sandwiched in between is Henry’s wedding to Maddi McNiven, who is the daughter of Rob and Tammy McNiven of Embro’s Twinbrook Farms and an equine massage therapist based in Cambridge, Ont.

“That’s on the 31st, and Industry Day’s on the first, so we’re hoping we’re racing the day after our wedding, but we’ll see,” said Henry.

The other Grassroots winners at Clinton Raceway on Bring A Friend Day were Treasures Pearl and OK Jewel.

Already the owner of a Grassroots trophy earned in the July 8 opener at Mohawk Racetrack, Treasures Pearl was the favourite in the second division. In spite of a field shorted to four when Mach On and Casimir QT were forced to withdraw due to sickness, the fillies delivered a lively battle, maintaining pressure on pacesetter Shewearsthepants through fractions of :30.2, 1:00 and 1:30.4. Finding a clear path in the stretch, Treasures Pearl and driver Sylvain Filion of Milton sprinted to a one-half length victory in 1:59.4. The Joy Luck Club was awarded second and Shewearsthepants was demoted to third as a result of interference in the stretch.

The win put Treasures Pearl firmly atop the two-year-old pacing filly Grassroots standings with 100 points. The Sportswriter daughter is trained by Ron Adams of LaSalle for owner/breeder Donald Leschied of South Woodslee. The filly is the first foal from $209,445 winner St Lads Treasure.

First time starter OK Jewel and driver Bob McClure also used a late sprint to claim the third Grassroots trophy. The filly reeled in pacesetter and fan favourite P L Kaleidoscope and Menagerie to score the one-half length victory in 2:00.3.

Elora resident McClure engineered the win for trainer Tim Jacobson of Midhurst and owner Seaspray Stables Ltd. of Nanaimo, B.C. The filly is a Mach Three daughter of $332,983 winner Whitesand Jewel.

Shanghai Sugar and OK Jewel will go looking for their second Grassroots trophy, and Treasures Pearl will be after her third, when the two-year-old pacing fillies make their third Ontario Sires Stakes start at Mohawk Racetrack on August 11.

Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Clinton Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 21 when the half-mile oval hosts the three-year-old trotting colts in their fourth Grassroots outing.

To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Clinton Raceway.

(With files from OSS)

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