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'Athena' Avoids Travel Woes In Gold Outing

Published: August 5, 2011 10:18 am ET

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When George McClure and his partners purchased Stonebridge Athena out of a mixed sale in 2005, the group never imagined the mare would propel them to the upper tier of the Ontario racing scene.

After racing for just over a year, Stonebridge Athena was retired to Carman Hastie’s Elmwood farm where she was bred to Million Dollar Cam. The resulting foal was Athenas Legacy, who heads back to Rideau Carleton Raceway for Sunday’s $130,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold final with a record of four wins, one second and one third in nine sophomore starts, her most recent victory coming in last weekend’s Gold elimination.

“We bought her mother at a mixed sale for $5,000,” recalls McClure, who conditions Athenas Legacy for his wife Catherine and son Dustin McClure of Clinton, Ont., Hastie, and Hastie’s brother-in-law Stephen Brownell of Holland Centre, Ont.

“He [Stephen] bought a quarter of Stonebridge Athena when we bought her at the mixed sale. I said, ‘How big a piece do you want? He said, ‘Small, I just want to stand by the track and cheer.’ I think it turned out a little different than he thought it might,” adds McClure.

So far Athenas Legacy has taken the group to the winner’s circle after one Gold elimination and one Grassroots division, along with two overnight contests, finished second by a head in her elimination of the historic Fan Hanover Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack, and earned twice as much in 12 lifetime starts as her mother did in 49.

An injury shipping home from her third start curtailed Athenas Legacy’s freshman career, but McClure says they had an idea even then that she had more ability than her dam.

“Actually I don’t do much with her, I have a son that drives her every day. I don’t have enough experience,” says McClure, tongue firmly in cheek. “We were quite high on her; Dustin was really high on her. It’s hard to tell from the sidelines how good she is, but she’s always had a big motor and always wanted to go ahead."

To avoid a repeat of the trailer incident last fall, Athenas Legacy no longer travels alone. She and her traveling companion will head back to Rideau Carleton on Sunday morning, arriving in plenty of time to rest before she tackles the Gold final field. With Sylvain Filion committed to Imagine Semalu, Mario Baillargeon will pick up the catch drive aboard Athenas Legacy, steering the filly from Post 5 in the fifth race on Sunday.

“Hopefully we get something this week,” says McClure. “We haven’t had any luck in the finals yet so, maybe third time lucky.

”In addition to Athenas Legacy, Baillargeon will also pilot one of the favourites in the sole two-year-old pacing filly Gold elimination, which is slated as Race 8 on the 6:30 p.m. program.

Classy Lane Rose finished second in her Gold Series debut at Mohawk Racetrack on July 11 and then third in the Gold final one week later. Like many of her peers, the Ben Wallace trainee heads into Sunday’s Gold elimination from Grand River Raceway’s Battle of the Belles, where she captured her July 25 elimination with a 1:57.3 effort and then finished fourth, from the trailing Post 9, in the August 1 final.

Milton, Ont. resident Wallace conditions the homebred daughter of Jeremes Jet and Titanic Rose for his partner Jamie Millier of Puslinch, Ont. Baillargeon will steer the filly from Post 5 in the $40,000 Gold elimination.

Only one filly will be eliminated from the contest, with the other nine making a return trip to Ottawa for the August 14 Gold final.

Rideau Carleton Raceway send its first race behind the gate at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday and then rolls out the red carpet for the province’s best three-year-old pacing fillies in Race 5 and the top two-year-old pacing fillies in Race 8.

To view entries for Sunday's harness racing card, click on the following link: Sunday Entries - Rideau Carleton Raceway.

(OSS)


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