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Niagara, Valedictory Set To Kick Off

Published: December 7, 2016 4:14 pm ET

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A few flurries are expected to be floating through the Toronto air this weekend, which only seems fitting, seeing as though winter series action will begin this Friday (December 9) at Woodbine Racetrack.

The opening leg of the Niagara Series for three-year-old pacing fillies has been carded for Friday evening, while Round 1 of the Valedictory Series for sophomore pacing colts and geldings will head postward on Saturday.

Each series features two preliminary legs and a final. The Niagara and Valedictory Series finals will both take place on the special Boxing Day matinee card (December 26). Non-winners of $60,000 in lifetime purse earnings as of October 31, 2016 were eligible to be nominated to each series.

A group of 16 three-year-old pacing fillies have been split into two $17,000 first-leg divisions of the Niagara Series.

Mike Bishop trainee Hot Spot Hanover is coming into the first Niagara division on a roll, having recorded four wins in her last six starts. The daughter of Well Said has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favourite and will start from the rail with driver Sylvain Filion.

Hot Spot Hanover has won five of 12 starts this season with eight top-three finishes. Of the 16 fillies entered in the Niagara, Hot Spot Hanover has made the fewest number of starts in 2016.

Marvalous Jet is the 7-2 second choice from Post 4 and will be making her second start for new trainer Dean Nixon. A daughter of Delmarvalous, Marvalous Jet spent her summer racing on the Pennsylvania Fair Circuit and is a nine-time winner from 28 starts in 2016.

The Nixon trainee finished second in her debut for new connections last Friday at Woodbine.

The second Niagara division features a pair of fillies that are heading into Friday’s contest off a victory.

Nick Gallucci trainee Docs Sausalito has won two of her last four starts, including a four-length score in a non-winners of three races tilt last Friday. The daughter of Art Colony has won five of 20 this season and is the 5-2 morning line favourite from the rail for driver Randy Waples.

Big Jim filly Jimbelina is the 3-1 second-choice and has put together a strong 2016 campaign. The Rene Bourassa trainee has seven victories and six runner-up finishes in 16 starts.

Jimbelina, who most recently captured a non-winners of two tilt last Friday at Woodbine, will once again have Sylvain Filion at the controls. The duo will start from Post 7.

The Niagara Series divisions have been carded as Races 2 and 8 on Friday’s 10-race card.

Last year’s Niagara was captured by Wanda Bayama, who swept the series for Filion and Stephane Larocque.

The Valedictory Series has attracted 20 three-year-old colts and geldings for Saturday’s opening leg.

The opening 10-horse $17,000 division features Bruce Goit trainee Lyons Sands. The son of Somebeachsomewhere will be making just his second career start on the WEG Circuit, but the sophomore has been red-hot this season on half-mile ovals.

Lyons Sands has won eight of 10 starts this season and is riding a four-race win streak into Saturday’s contest. J Harris has driven the Goit trainee to seven of his eight victories this season and will once again be his driver in the Valedictory.

Another sophomore coming into the Valedictory with plenty of momentum is Awesomeness for trainer Ryan Maxwell. The son of Mach Three didn’t make his career debut until October 4 and has since won four of seven starts, including his last two outings.

Awesomeness recently joined the Maxwell barn and won his debut for his new connections on November 28 at Woodbine. Randy Waples is listed to drive the Mach Three gelding from Post 8.

Ontario Sired Autumn Series winner Think On It headlines the second split. The Bob McIntosh trainee recently had a five-race win streak snapped, but will look to start a new streak from Post 5 Saturday.

The son of Ponder has won five of 13 starts this season and will reunite with Paul MacDonell, who steered Think On It to a sweep of the Autumn Series.

The second division also features four sophomores that will be heading in from south of the border.

Robert Key homebred pacers Artful Bliss (Post 3) and Dragon Strikes (Post 6) are shipping in from the Meadows to race for trainer Rod Boyd, while Mark Ford has sent up pacing colt Breaktime Hanover (Post 7) to Gregg McNair.

The fourth newcomer to the circuit is Keystone Dylan (Post 9), who had been racing at Pocono and will be making his debut for new trainer Marty Fine.

The Valedictory Series divisions have been carded as Races 3 and 4 on Saturday’s 11-race card.

Last year’s Valedictory final was captured by Shades Of Bay in a series-record clocking of 1:50.3 for driver Phil Hudon and trainer Sean Mehlenbacher.

Post time for Friday and Saturday’s cards of racing is 7:30 p.m.

To view the entries for the Friday and Saturday cards, please click the corresponding links that appear below.

Woodbine Racetrack – Friday Entries
Woodbine Racetrack – Saturday Entries


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