Ontario’s two-year-old trotting filly division continues to be a wide open affair as three first-time winners triumphed in Grassroots action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday, Aug. 17.
The freshman fillies opened the program in the first race and Mag N Lady rolled out to a :28.3 opening quarter, followed closely by HP Mama B from Post 1, who did not stay tucked in the pocket for long. At the three-eighths marker driver Sylvain Filion sent HP Mama B to the front and the filly cruised to a :59.4 half and a 1:28.4 three-quarters before drawing away from the field in the stretch to a 1:57.1 victory. Mag N Lady was five lengths back in second with three more lengths back to Ban Ban Deo in third.
“It was just a matter of time before she goes straight. She used to come out of the last turn and kind of throw herself into the middle of the racetrack,” said trainer Ben Baillargeon, who also bred and raised the daughter of Royalty For Life and Winters Jewel. “She showed speed a few times, like a last quarter in :27.4, and even in Grand River (July 29) she run, but we knew exactly why she run, and I kind of worked on it the last couple weeks and it paid off tonight, 1:57.1, last quarter :28.2. And she did it pretty easy, but she always had the speed, all winter she showed speed.”
Guylaine Picard of Guelph, ON and Celine Paquin of Ayers Cliff, QC share ownership of HP Mama B, who finished ninth in the Grassroots season opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 13 and second in the July 29 leg at Grand River Raceway.
Rain fell in sheets before the second $23,500 Grassroots division, changing the racetrack’s rating from ‘fast’ to ‘sloppy’, but that did not seem to hamper Stonebridge Strong, who powered down the stretch to a five and one-half length score in 2:00.4. Starting from the trailing Post 10, Stonebridge Strong was able to follow Kadillac Girl up the outer lane before powering off the final turn to her first victory. All R Wishes also closed well for second and pocket-sitter Snowfalla was third.
“I’ve liked her every time I’ve drove her. I know she was 10 to 1 and everything tonight, but it really wasn’t a surprise to me that she raced like that,” said driver Ryan Holliday, noting that the filly missed the July 29 leg due to sickness. “We qualified her six days ago (Aug. 11) and he said she was good and fit for this one and I kind of did expect her to race good.”
Holliday steers Stonebridge Strong for trainer Paul Megens and owners Saltwater Stables of Moffat, ON. The Muscle Mass daughter’s only other start came in the July 13 season opener, where she finished sixth, but still managed to impress Holliday.
“I know Paul and everybody was kind of disappointed with her first start, but I kind of chalked it up just to being not that fit, because she was quite a while in between her first start and her qualifier (June 19) and it’s just not the same training them as racing,” said Holliday. “So I expected her to be better tonight and she was, so that’s good.”
By the last Grassroots division the surface had dried up enough to improve the racetrack’s rating to ‘good’ and Edgewater powered away from Post 8 to a :29 quarter. Starting from Post 7, driver Stephen Byron had eased Lifeintheslammer away from the gate and was 12 lengths back in eighth. As Edgewater rang up a 1:00.1 half and 1:30.2 three-quarters Lifeintheslammer was steadily making her way up the outer lane, and rolling out wide off the final turn she kicked into gear and collared the leaders on her way to a one and one-half length victory in 2:00.3. All Muscle N Sass closed hard to claim second and pocket-sitter Warrawee Welcome finished five lengths back in third.
“We’re pleased, relieved,” said trainer John Bax. “She’s still mad at the world and we just have to get her mad at the other horses in the race. She was, we can get her loaded now, but she was one of those ones where she missed the first couple training sessions because we couldn’t get her on the trailer.”
The fractious daughter of Royalty For Life-Tequila Slammer made her debut in the July 12 Gold Series opener at Georgian Downs, where she finished fifth, but a ninth place result in the July 31 Gold leg convinced Bax and his co-owners Bax Stable of Campbellville, Glengate Farms of Erin, Brad Grant of Milton and Gaelic Stable of Sharon, ON that the filly might be better suited to the Grassroots program.
“She doesn’t know anything about racing yet and she wasn’t learning anything in the Gold, she really wasn’t in the race,” explained Campbellville resident Bax. “I trained her mother and her mother was a pretty nice filly and she’s got a brother that was pretty good down in the States so, yeah we’re pretty high on her. It’s just one of those deals where I think the head has to come along, and I think once she matures enough and maybe grows up physically she won’t be so mad and she’ll learn to race.”
Lifeintheslammer, Stonebridge Strong and HP Mama B will have an opportunity to continue their positive progress in the fourth Grassroots Leg, on Aug. 29 at Hanover Raceway.
Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Tuesday, Aug. 18 with two $106,400 Gold Series divisions for the two-year-old pacing fillies. The fillies will compete in Races 2 and 8, with the program getting under way at 7 p.m.
To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.