It took longer than expected, but Delcrest Magicstar finally made her debut at Grand River Raceway on Friday (July 29) and the two-year-old trotting filly went home with a Grassroots trophy and the fastest clocking of the three Ontario Sires Stakes divisions.
Starting from post one with co-owner James MacDonald in the race bike, Delcrest Magicstar eased away from the starting gate and was sitting fourth when Late Shift reached the opening quarter in :30.3. The filly continued to watch from fourth as fan favourite Hab Faith took over top spot, leading the field to a 1:00.4 half, but heading for the 1:31.4 three-quarters MacDonald tipped Delcrest Magicstar to the outside and the filly had a chance to show off her skills. Powering around the final turn, Delcrest Magicstar grabbed control from Hab Faith and accelerated down the stretch to a one and one-half length victory in 2:02.1. Late Shift stepped out of the pocket to claim the second-place share of the $18,000 purse and Hab Faith settled for third.
“We were really happy with her,” said MacDonald, who was joined in the winner’s circle by the victorious “Be A Winner” contest finalist. “She trots beautiful, she’s built like a tank, she looks like a good horse when you look at her, so hopefully she keeps progressing.”
Friday’s outing was Delcrest Magicstar’s first, following a win and a second in qualifiers at Mohawk Racetrack on June 16 and July 1. The filly was originally heading for the Grassroots season opener at Georgian Downs, but a bout of sickness pushed her debut back by three weeks.
“She got brutal sick,” said MacDonald, who shares ownership of the filly, a $30,000 purchase from the Canadian Yearling Sale, with trainer Johnathan McKinnon of Guelph, Ont. and Peter Porter of Port Dover, Ont. “She [had] yellow snot pouring out of her, and coughing, and it was two weeks before [McKinnon] could get it cleaned up, two different kinds of antibiotics, and she was off her feed. It was horrible.”
The filly finally started to rebound from the sickness last week, and when they trained her in preparation for Friday’s test, McKinnon and MacDonald knew she was back on her game.
“She trained awesome the other day,” said the Guelph, Ont. resident. “I trained with Johnny and she blew by me down the lane and so we were kind of hoping she’d put together a good performance.”
Now that she is healthy, the only obstacle standing in Delcrest Magicstar’s way could be her attitude. MacDonald said the daughter of Majestic Son and Stars Balance has a beautiful gait, but is not naturally inclined to give the extra effort that often separates the top horses from those in the lower tier.
“She’s got a bit of an attitude. Johnny always went with her and he was really high on her, but she just doesn’t do anything extra,” explained MacDonald. “After she qualified, I said, ‘She’s right on the verge of being a real nice horse, or not a very good horse.’”
The second Grassroots division also saw a filly making her debut trot into the winner’s circle. Starting from post six with fan favourite Crystal Gumdrop, Grand River Raceway’s leading driver Bob McClure employed a strategy similar to MacDonald’s. The pair sat fourth as Parkhill Nocredit reached the quarter in :30.1, and had rolled to the outside before the 1:02.2 half. By the 1:33.2 three-quarters, Crystal Gumdrop had pulled to within one length of the pacesetter, and when McClure asked her for another gear, the Angus Hall miss powered away to a three and one-quarter length victory in 2:03.3. Parkhill Nocredit settled for second and Man Shes Hot was four more lengths back in third.
“She’s a nice filly. She behaved very well for her first lifetime start,” said Elora, Ont. resident McClure. “I didn’t push her until late, but she had a lot of pop when I did.”
McClure crafted the win for trainer Jeff Gillis of Everett, Ont. and his partners Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont., and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, New York. The trio acquired the daughter of Angus Hall and Crystas Dream for $13,000 from last fall’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale.
The last division saw Inner Drive record her second straight Grassroots win with a gate-to-wire romp in 2:07.1. Hopeswishesndreams finished two and one-half lengths back in second and Oh Miss Sophie recovered from an early break to take third.
Alfie Carroll of Iona Station, Ont. engineered the win for trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor, Ont., and his partners Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, Ont., and C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio. The homebred daughter of Kadabra and Urge To Splurge boasts a record of two wins and one second in four starts for earnings of $21,500. She sits atop the two-year-old trotting filly Grassroots standings with 102 points.
The freshman trotting fillies make their fourth Grassroots start at Hanover Raceway on August 6.
In other Friday action, Quebec trotting champion Seeyou Men was a wire-to-wire winner in the evening’s $7,500 Preferred 3. The four-year-old son of Muscle Mass was victorious in 1:59.3 with Robert Shepherd driving for trainer Isabelle Darveau and owners Catheline Pelletier of Mirabel, Que. and Chantal Gravel of St-Cyrille-De-Wendover, Que.
Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Grand River Raceway on Monday, Aug. 1 as part of the track’s signature Industry Day program. The three-year-old pacing fillies will battle for Gold Series glory in races two and six, warming up the crowd for the $107,800 Battle of the Belles Final for two-year-old pacing fillies in race 10 and the $159,500 Battle of Waterloo Final for two-year-old pacing colts in race 11. The afternoon’s festivities kick off at noon, with the first race going to the gate at 1:30 p.m.