Three-year-old trotting filly Flowers N Songs emerged between rivals down the stretch to pull off a 23-1 upset in the first of two $174,329 SBOA Stakes Final of the night on Saturday (May 28) at Mohawk Racetrack.
Leaving from post four, Major Muscle (Mario Baillargeon) was the first to fire and sprinted the opening quarter in :26.4 with Danish Darby (Paul MacDonell), leaving from post seven, crossing over to secure a two-hole trip. However, Celebrity Eventsy (Sylvain Filion) then rushed up from third to take the lead by the half in :55.3.
As Celebrity Eventsy led the field to three-quarters in 1:24.2, the 2015 divisional champion Caprice Hill (Randy Waples) pursued her fellow elimination winner, advancing first over from fourth.
From there, it looked as if the race would come down to a final quarter battle between the popular elimination winners, but Flowers N Songs had other ideas. Robert Key’s homebred Deweycheatumnhowe-Pleasures Song filly followed in seventh-place throughout the race, and after a ground-saving trip engineered by Doug McNair, she came through in the homestretch to defeat 2-5 favourite Caprice Hill by nearly three lengths in a stakes record clocking of 1:53 flat. Celebrity Eventsy finished third.
Flowers N Songs, who was a runner-up to Celebrity Eventsy in their elimination, returned $48.90 to her backers for a $2 win ticket.
“Dougie gave her an awesome drive. He’s been getting along with her great,” said trainer Paul Reid of the filly’s local reinsman, who also guided her to top-two finishes throughout the Celias Counsel Series last month. “It was fun to watch.”
The lightly raced Flowers N Songs now boasts six wins and five second-place finishes from 12 starts in her debut racing season with nearly $150,000 earned in purses. Her Saturday stakes score was her fastest yet and shaved more than three full seconds off her lifetime mark.
“She got hurt after a baby race as a two-year-old,” explained Reid of the fully-staked filly. “Rich Gillock brought her back this winter and did a great job with her for Mr. Key and we’re just happy to have her.”
The favourite was also foiled in the $173,329 SBOA Stakes Final for three-year-old pacing fillies as went all the way for driver Chris Christoforou, trainer Dr. Ian Moore and the Nova Scotia-based Glb Stable.
The Big Jim-Go For Best filly took the lead from post two and carved out fractions of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:22.4 en route to the career-best victory in 1:50 flat. A 1:51.1 elimination winner last week, Goodwill Hanover paid $14.10 as the 6-1 second wagering choice on the toteboard.
L A Delight (Randy Waples), the 2015 divisional champion and 2-5 favourite following her own elimination victory, moved first over from fourth approaching the half-mile mark, but couldn’t cut into Goodwill Hanover’s lead and finished fourth. Mayhem Seelster (Jack Moiseyev) crossed into a three-hole off the gate from post nine and was able to edge out pocket-sitter Lay Lady Lay (Doug McNair) for the runner-up honours at odds of 45-1, finishing three-quarters of a length behind Goodwill Hanover.
“I left [the game plan] to Chris,” said Moore in a post-race interview. “When he drives them once, he pretty well gets a feel for them and knows what he wants to do. I thought Randy might go to the front and we’d be in the two-hole, but it didn’t shape up that way.
“She won most of her races last year off the front,” noted Moore, explaining that the anxious filly wears a hood to keep her focused on the task at hand.
“Our filly had a lot of speed last year and the same this year. She trained very well, but she has a little bit of a mental type issue, I guess, and it takes a lot to calm her down. The first start that she had this year, on the way in here we had to wait for a train and she just lost herself in the trailer, and by the time we got here, she had already raced herself a couple times in. So I have two girls looking after her for the last two starts, Tammy and Vicky, and they did a heck of a job with her, keeping her calm. We had to walk her a lot and all that, but she did very well and it’s certainly worth it, that’s for sure.”
Goodwill Hanover is now two-for-three to start her sophomore campaign after winning four of her seven starts last year, including Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots and Gold divisions. Her bankroll climbed over $260,000.
The Moore trainee is moderately staked this year and will face some open competition in the Fan Hanover next month.