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McNair Seeks Industry Day Double

Published: August 1, 2015 9:20 am ET

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"The first time I went with him I said, 'What one is this?' I don't usually get to know many of them until they start qualifying. He was my favourite right off the bat."

As the only driver to sweep both the Battle of Waterloo and the Battle of the Belles in the same year, Industry Day has a special place in Doug McNair’s heart. He will be looking to repeat his 2013 Battle sweep on Monday, August 3 as Industry Day celebrates its 25 year anniversary.

“It’s a fun milestone to have; it’s one of my favourite days of the year. I used to roll bandages and race around the backstretch. Industry Day started the year after I was born so it was a big part of growing up. Winning those two races was even better (in 2013) because both of the horses were trained by my father.”

Gregg McNair sent Lady Shadow off as the 6-5 favourite in the Battle of the Belles, drawing away from the field in the final, clinching victory by four and a quarter lengths in 1:55.4. Three Of Clubs later wired the field in an impressive 1:53.4 mile to give the McNairs the Industry Day double.

The duo has seen considerable success emerge from their father-son partnership, often a dominant force during stakes season and on the WEG circuit. For Doug, a trip to the winner’s circle in the 2008 Battle of Waterloo with Trail Boss helped to kick start his career.

“If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. Dad might have put someone else down to drive!”

Heading into the 2015 edition of Grand River’s signature races, McNair has secured drives in both finals. The first Battle of the Belles elimination denied Blake MacIntosh trainee Sports Expert victory by a head, leaving the pair to settle for runner-up. McNair avenged the loss in the second elimination, dominating the field with Mattjestic Tempo in a wire-to-wire trip.

"[Mattjestic Tempo] has been getting better since her first qualifier," Doug noted to the Guelph Mercury. "She raced last week at Georgian Downs and raced really well (in an Ontario Sires Stakes event). She was one or two seconds faster than the rest of the divisions up there and she did it pretty handy. (In the Battle of the Belles elimination), same thing, she was a tick off the track record. I'm not saying she had a second more in her, but she sure felt like she had a little bit left at the end."

McNair qualified both Mattjestic Tempo and Sports Expert, and opted for the former. John Campbell was set to drive Sport Expert but his Friday morning qualifying accident at the Meadowlands has forced trainer Blake MacIntosh to look elsewhere.

McNair pointed to post position and attitude as keys for his choice.

“She won pretty handy and seems strong over a half-mile track in races like these. She drew better (than Sports Expert) and I think she’s a really excellent filly to drive. I’ve been fortunate to drive her a few times now.”

Team McNair will be looking to secure their third Battle of Waterloo victory with Big Jim gelding Magnum J. A $10,000 Forest City Yearling Sale purchase by the conditioner in partnership with Tony Lawrence and William Brown, Doug is confident in the youngster’s chances. McNair has had high hopes for the rookie since the winter training sessions, when the colt caught his eye.

“I think he’s one of the best ones in the field, other than his post position. He’s got high end speed right off the bat and it’s there to use when you need it.”

Drawing an outside post on the half-mile track, McNair and Magnum J will start from the seven hole -- an obstacle that is not insurmountable. It was the starting spot for last year’s winner, Go Daddy Go. McNair believes that post position will be the greatest challenge he and Magnum J will have to overcome in the final.

“The Battle of Waterloo is one of the most exciting races to win, it’s been around a long time and I consider it one of the toughest races to win.

As for his chances at another driving double?

“I definitely love racing over there and I have two good shots to win it. We’ll be looking for the winner’s circle on Monday!”

Industry Day will feature attractions for all ages as well as the much-anticipated Battle of the Belles and Battle of Waterloo stakes finals. First race goes to post at 1:30 and parking/admission are free.

There will be lots of activities happening trackside, including the popular ‘All-Access Kid’s Pass’ available for $5 which includes face painting, balloon artists, bouncy castles and pony rides. Fans will have the opportunity to enter in a draw for one of 25 ‘anniversary gifts’ valued at more than $5,000 including golf clubs, a BBQ and more. All of this and more will be a part of Grand River’s highly anticipated celebration.

To commemorate Industry Day, the I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club will offer an online handicapping contest featuring an assortment of questions based on the Industry Day card of racing.

To view the entries for Grand River's Industry Day card, click one of the following links: Monday Entries - Grand River Raceway -- Industry Day Program Pages

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Hannah Beckett)

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