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All Hail Venerable

Published: September 25, 2021 11:44 pm ET

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After improving to a perfect seven-for-seven by registering a clean sweep in the Peaceful Way, Venerable ($3.90) found herself up against a new challenge in Saturday's (Sept. 25) Mohawk Million at Woodbine Mohawk Park: mixed company. But, just as she had done every other time she has set foot on the racetrack, the daughter of Walner and Jolene Jolene lived up to her name, parrying Duly Resolved in a gritty stretch duel to take the second renewal of the event for rookie trotters in 1:54.2.

Venerable, driven by David Miller, was one of many outside leavers in the 10-horse field, and she found herself flanked by Duly Resolved (Paul MacDonell) and Selfie Queen (Dexter Dunn) through a cutthroat :27.1 first-quarter battle royale — one that was devoid of the presence of William Wellwood Memorial winner King Of The North, who had broken stride on approach to the first turn. When Selfie Queen broke stride upon reaching the backstretch, Miller found that as his cue to work Venerable to the top.

"My game plan was to leave and maybe get in the middle somewhere, but it wasn't working out that way," Miller said. "When Dexter hadn't made the lead, I kind of pushed her on. It was a big quarter — :27 — but she got a pretty soft middle half, and her heart and her guts got her to the wire."

Venerable indeed pulled the half back to :56.3, and kept the pace relaxed to three-quarters in 1:26.1 despite facing mild first-over pressure from long shot Southwind Domino (Louis-Philippe Roy) through the far turn. She made easy work of that rival off the home turn, but a familiar foe in Duly Resolved resurfaced in the final furlong as MacDonell angled the five-time winner off the pegs — and the battle of the sexes was on. Venerable reached for the line and barely found it, staving off Duly Resolved by a head in 1:54.2.

Valentina Blu (Andy McCarthy) lifted from astern to finish third, 3-1/2 lengths in arrears.

"I can't really explain how game, how tough she is," Miller said. "Her performance on the track is what shows it."

Now a millionaire, Venerable has more than recouped her $210,000 purchase price for the partnership of David McDuffee, Melvin Hartman, Paul Bordogna and Steven Arnold. Richard 'Nifty' Norman trains the filly, whose marquee wins also include the New Jersey Sire Stakes final and the Jim Doherty Memorial, which she won in a career-fastest 1:52.

"We started thinking about [the Mohawk Million] right around the Peaceful Way; it just seemed like it was the right thing for her," said McDuffee, indicating that his partnership arranged for Venerable to race in the Million in a slot owned by Brad Grant. "We had to give up a couple of nice races in Kentucky and Hoosier, but there's not many for a million dollars, so this was the right place to go, and going up against the boys was the frosting on the cake. It puts her right up there."

The 2021 Mohawk Million was the centrepiece of Canada's richest card of harness racing. Read about all the stakes from the card in the Mohawk Million News Centre.

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