Roy And Two Beautiful 'Belles'

Collusion Hanover
Published: August 6, 2023 01:15 pm EDT

After sweeping both of the Battle of the Belles eliminations at Grand River Raceway on Monday night, driver Louis-Philippe Roy had a decision to make ahead of the $138,400 final. With both fillies putting forth strong efforts, the choice between them was a tough one.

“I knew going into the eliminations for the Belles that I was going to be driving two quality fillies,” stated Roy. “Deep down, I was hoping that one would race significantly better than the other so my decision would be an easy one, but they both raced amazingly well so the eliminations didn’t help me much,” he added with a laugh.

Race three is when the first of two eliminations for the Battle of the Belles took place. That dash was captured by Collusion Hanover, a daughter of Bettors Delight, who is trained by Luc Blais for Determination. Despite getting away fifth in a field of six, the freshman filly was able to make a strong, first-over bid against the pacesetter, Bonitas Best Bet, prevailing by three-quarters of a length in a 1:56.4 score. 

“I didn’t get her in a great spot off the gate early,” admitted Roy. “But it was a short field and I had confidence she could get a big piece no matter where she got away. In her start prior, in a [Ontario Sires Stakes] Gold, Chris [Christoforou] sat behind her and told me she was loaded with pace. After getting her first win with her in a Grassroots leg, I was confident she was a Gold filly, and Chris pretty much confirmed it after that race. She just didn’t get a chance to show it that night.

“After the half, I made my charge and she felt really strong. Doug’s filly [Bonitas Best Bet] had things her own way on the lead for the most part, but my filly felt great and was pacing really strong throughout. I didn’t win by much, but my filly had more and she paced hard through the wire. It was a great effort, but it didn’t surprise me.”

In the following race, Roy sat behind Pass Line, a filly he’s already guided to the winner’s circle three times in four tries leading up to that point. After taking a mark of 1:51.4 in an OSS Gold on July 11 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, she became the fastest freshman filly pacer in Canada this year. It’s why many believe she's the filly to beat in the Battle of the Belles final at Grand River Raceway on Monday, Aug. 7.

After leaving from post position three, the daughter of All Bets Off made front and never looked back. She cruised to a 1:55.3 score with ease, with Roy never lifting a line. 

“Her performance was effortless and I didn’t expect anything less. She’s been so good and she’s proven to be so fast all year,” added Roy. With Pass Line, there hasn’t been a bad effort from her this year. Even in her only loss, she came out of it being a little sick and she still finished a really good third. She’s already taken a mark of :51.4, and she’s proven to be the fastest. I’m not sure what more she can do at this point; she’s proven so much already, so early. She’s just a great filly.”

With both performances being so impressive from different trips, Roy still had one more variable that would factor into his decision: seeing where each filly would draw for the Battle of the Belles final. Collusion Hanover drew the rail and Pass Line drew the four hole. While the decision was still difficult, it made things a tad easier.

“I slept on it that night after the eliminations and came to the conclusion I’d commit to Collusion Hanover for the final. Ultimately, what it came down to for me was the post position, and the fact that I drive mainly for Luc [Blais] and Determination also played a role, too. I am intrigued with Collusion Hanover because I think, while she’s been good, she still hasn’t shown what she’s fully capable of. There’s a lot more to her that we haven’t seen.”

While Roy is content with his decision, he can’t stress enough how tough it was. He’s also aware that it’s a decision he might have to make throughout various legs of the Ontario Sires Stakes program this year.

“Whoever picks up the drive on Pass Line is going to be very fortunate, because she is very fast and very talented. I’ve driven three of what I feel like are the three best fillies in the two-year-old pacing filly division. I have my own Jimmy Freight filly [Resilience] who has been strong this year so far and I’m hoping that the divisions are spread out so I don’t have to continue making tough decisions and competing against all of them,” he added with a laugh.

Roy captured his first Battle of the Belles title in 2021 when he guided Love That Smile, a daughter of Sportswriter, to the winner’s circle for trainer Rene Bourassa. Like Collusion Hanover, she too drew the rail on that occasion and the reinsman is hoping that spot on the gate can result in a second title to add to his mantle.

“Yeah, that worked out pretty well for me this year and hopefully it works out again,” said Roy. “It’s a tough race to win and with it being raced on a half-mile track, everyone will be looking to move early. That’s why drawing well is very important on a track like Grand River.”

Roy didn’t tip his hand on strategy for the Battle of the Belles final. He’s just going to let his filly dictate the trip.

“I don’t have a set plan on what I want to do going into the race,” noted Roy. “Obviously, in drawing the rail on a half-mile track, your chances of being well-positioned when the gate opens are much higher, but as for whether I intend on cutting it or sitting on the helmet, I will let my filly tell me what she wants to do.”

After sweeping the Battle of the Belles eliminations, Roy watched the Battle of Waterloo eliminations from the sidelines. He’s picked up the drive on Stopwatch in the final, a gelded son of Hes Watching trained by five-time Battle of Waterloo winner Gregg McNair. He’s 6-1 on the morning line and will leave from post six in search of his trainer’s sixth stakes victory here. A win would give Roy his first win in that signature event.

First post time the 34th Industry Day is set for 12:30 p.m. For entries, click on one of the following links: Grand River Raceway - Monday Entries || Monday Program Pages (courtesy TrackIT)

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by John Rallis)

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