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Millar Farm Fillies Strike In Gold

Published: July 18, 2021 10:23 pm ET

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Driver James MacDonald, trainer Nick Gallucci and owner-breeder George Millar teamed to win two of three Gold Series divisions for the two-year-old pacing fillies at Georgian Downs on Sunday (July 18).

Their first victory came with Silver Label in the first $69,733 division. Starting from post 5, Silver Label left smartly and settled behind favourite I Love Ongait as that filly led the field of eight to a :27 quarter and :55.2 half. Heading for the third marker, MacDonald put Silver Label on the attack and she and I Love Ongait battled to a 1:25.2 three-quarters before Silver Label was able to pull away in the stretch and secure the 1:55.3 victory. I Love Ongait settled for second, three and three-quarter lengths behind the winner, and Darby Ogill completed the top three.

The win was Silver Label’s second straight over the Georgian Downs oval. The Bettors Delight daughter toured the Innisfil oval in 1:56 in the Grassroots season opener on July 6.

“I thought that I Love Ongait was a pretty nice horse, and if she could just get a nice piece of it in there I’d be happy,” said Stouffville, Ont. resident Millar. “It’s a little surreal how well they’re racing right now so I am just going to suck it all in and enjoy it while it’s here, because I know how fleeting it can be sometimes.”

Millar barely had time to enjoy Silver Label’s victory before MacDonald and Prohibition Legal were parading for the second $68,933 division. From post 1, Prohibition Legal sat briefly in third as Stonebridge Thalia stepped out to a :29 quarter. Heading for the :57.4 half, first Speaker Nancy and then favourite Prohibition Legal swept to the front, but Stonebridge Thalia came back out and challenged as Prohibition Legal led the way to the 1:26.1 three-quarters. However, Prohibition Legal had plenty in reserve and sprinted home to a 1:54.1 victory, the Big Jim daughter’s second straight in Gold Series action. Love That Smile closed for second and Stonebridge Thalia was third.

Prohibition Legal pictured winning a Gold division at Mohawk on July 2

“You dream all winter about racing in the big races, but then when you get down to July reality sets in and it doesn’t always seem to work out that way. If you wind up with one decent horse, or maybe two out of 10, you consider yourself lucky, and we seem to have a bunch of them right now,” said Millar. “You know what, it couldn’t happen at a nicer time for me. To see them race so well, and be my homebreds, it’s wonderful. I am getting a little bruised where I am pinching myself.”

Silver Label and Prohibition Legal are not the only repeat Ontario Sires Stakes winners in the Millar Farms barn at present. Two-year-old pacing gelding Betterhavemymoney also has two Gold Series wins on his resume. It is also not the first time the Millar Farms team has celebrated two Ontario Sires Stakes wins in one night. Three-year-old pacing geldings Powertrain and Cantstoplying won their Grassroots divisions at Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 10.

The success has had special meaning for Millar, who underwent a double lung transplant in February and had to give up driving the young horses around his Stouffville farm track during a prolonged recovery.

“I don’t know, ever since I stopped driving the horses so much and I went to the hospital and got my new lungs, they all seem to be racing better, so maybe somebody is trying to tell me something; I shouldn’t be training them so much and leave it up to the guys that know what they’re doing,” quipped Millar. “Nick’s (Gallucci) just doing a wonderful job. I think he’s really enjoying the transition over to racing young horses.

“Every time we win a Sires Stakes race I buy him and his wife dinner and I said, ‘This is starting to get expensive,’” added Millar with a chuckle.

In the third $68,933 division Fade Out and driver Doug McNair fired out of post 7 and took control just past the :27.4 quarter, then carried on to a :57 half and 1:26 three-quarters before battling down the stretch to a one-half length win in 1:55.3. Speak Your Mind finished second and Dewitt for Josie was third. Favourite Better Double Flip finished fifth.

“She raced good; she went a big trip there tonight. She was out quite a long ways making front. I thought she went a pretty good trip, and she fought them off pretty good,” said trainer Gregg McNair. “She never made a mistake all winter, but I wouldn’t say that we were thinking we’d maybe win a Gold with her.”

The Guelph resident shares ownership of Fade Out with Dean Lockhart of Collingwood and McKinlay & Fielding of Toronto, Ont. The partners offered up $20,000 for the daughter of Sportswriter at last fall’s Black Book Yearling Sale.

Fade Out started her career in the Grassroots, finishing second to Silver Label on July 6, and the pair could meet up again in the Battle Of The Belles eliminations at Grand River Raceway on Monday, July 26. Prohibition Legal will skip that event and prep for the third Gold Series Leg at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Aug. 17.

Next up on Georgian Downs’ Ontario Sires Stakes schedule is the second Gold Series Leg for the exciting three-year-old pacing colts on Sunday, July 25, which could feature the return to Ontario of Meadowlands Pace winner Lawless Shadow.

A $13,000 Preferred 2 Trot capped the Sunday card with Arrakis kicking out of the pocket to score a 16-1 upset in 1:55.3.

Even-money favourite Serenity Cruise controlled the pace through fractions of :27.4, :57.4 and 1:26.2 with Arrakis sitting closely in second. Exemplar pulled first over from third moving up the backstretch but quickly faltered moving to the final turn, leaving Arrakis as the closest threat to Serenity Cruise. And once driver Travis Cullen fed Arrakis racetrack, he nabbed the front in the final strides to best Serenity Cruise by a head in a 1:55.3 mile with Esquire closing for third.

A nine-year-old gelding by Federal Flex, Arrakis won his fifth race from 10 starts this season and his 22nd from 183 overall, earning $381,844. Francis Guillemette owns and trains the $34.50 winner.

(with files from Ontario Sires Stakes)

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

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