The 2021 harness racing season at Leamington Raceway kicked off on Sunday, Aug. 8 with fans back on track to witness Lifelong Dream’s last-to-first victory in the Opening Day’s featured Preferred.
With Andy Moore in the bike, Lifelong Dream trailed the field of six through fractions of :28.4, :59.1 and 1:28.4 before circling her rivals to win the $5,000 Preferred 4 Handicap Pace in 1:58.2. She bested Woodmere Wyldstyle (Tyler Borth) by a head while Millenium Seelster (Scott Wray) finished third ahead of pacesetter On Cruise Control (Gene Piroski).
An 11-time winner, the homebred six-year-old Ramabaran mare is campaigned by Greg Merlo, of Glencoe, Ont. She earned her second win of the year from 10 starts.
Sent postward at odds of 5-1, Lifelong Dream returned $13.20 to win.
Five-year-old pacing mare Shes A Gunslinger ($9) and driver Tyler Borth opened the Leamington season, taking the lead at the quarter and going on to win the afternoon’s first race in 1:59.3 by three-quarters of a length over favourites West Coast Kid and Dragon Teen. Catherine Gaudreau trains the Dali daughter, who is now a three-time winner for owner James Napper of Thamesville, Ont.
Borth led all drivers for wins on the day with four while Tyler Nodstadt topped the trainers with a double that included 10-year-old pacing gelding Shootinforthestars ($5.90), who streaked to his fifth straight victory in 1:59.3 for Ohio’s Blueshoe Investments.
Mark Williams, president of Lakeshore Horse Racing Association, welcomed back fans in attendance and addressed the crowd in front of the updated grandstand prior to post time along with a number of local government officials, including Tom Bain, Mayor of Lakeshore; Hilda MacDonald, Mayor of Leamington; Rick Nicholls, MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington; Dave Epp, MP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington; Chris Lewis, MP for Essex; and Gary McNamara, Warden of Essex County.
"I can't believe I can invite all of you back,” said Williams. “I can't believe the unprecedented things we've been going through. All of our group is just thrilled, thrilled to see each and every one of you back.”
Bain, who thanked fans and officials for supporting the local racing community, noted $375,000 was invested in improvements to the facility over the offseason and a new toteboard is on its way.
“As has been said, it’s been one heck of an unprecedented time for our community, for our country and for the horse racing and horse breeding folks as well,” said Epp. “Unbelievable. You are such an important part of our agricultural sub-sector. What you contribute to our entertainment industry, to our tourism industry, even to our economic base, you’re such an important part so thanks.
“Thanks needs to go to the horse drivers, the owners, the veterinarians, the transportation sector, the hay, the grain folks… all the people whose dedication and perseverance to their vocation and to this sport have kept this alive in our community.”
Leamington’s season will feature live harness racing every Sunday through October 31. First-race post time is 1 p.m.
To view Sunday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results – Leamington Raceway.