Just one week after they faced off in the Battle of the Belles Final, Grand River Raceway welcomed back the two-year-old pacing fillies on Monday night for five Grassroots divisions worth a total of $93,650.
Five of the fillies that qualified for the Battle of the Belles Final made the return trip to the Elora oval, including Jack Darling trainees Write Me A Song and Neon Moon, who were hoping for a little more luck than they enjoyed on August 7.
After finishing third in her elimination, Write Me A Song was withdrawn from the final due to a bruised foot and Neon Moon’s hopes for a Battle of the Belles title disappeared when she made an early break that knocked her out of contention.
Cambridge, ON resident Darling had his answer early as driver Jody Jamieson tipped Write Me A Song off the rail heading for the three-quarters in the first $18,800 division and sent her after pacesetter Love Kills. The filly found another gear once she squared up in the stretch and powered to a three-quarter length victory in 1:56.2. Mittany Nicole rolled out of the pocket into second, leaving Love Kills to settle for third.
“She had a bruised foot that was a problem, I had to scratch her last week out of the final of the Belles, and we’ve been working on it all week. She wasn’t necessarily 100 per cent, but she raced good on it anyway,” said Darling, who owns and trains Write Me A Song. “She’s a good filly and I thought she, you know first over, I thought she raced really game.”
The daughter of Sportswriter and Write Me A Song was a $47,000 purchase out of last fall’s Canadian Yearling Sale and through four starts she has posted two wins, one second and one third for earnings of $24,962. She currently leads the freshman pacing filly point race with 125. The top 10 point earners after six regular season events will compete in the Sept. 30 Grassroots Championship at Mohawk Racetrack.
Four races later Neon Moon redeemed herself in impressive fashion, roaring from fifth to first going by the halfway marker. While Moffat, ON resident Jamieson sat back and enjoyed the ride, Neon Moon opened up a double digit lead on her peers, reaching the wire just over 11 lengths ahead of Ovation Seelster and Last Symphony in 1:56.3.
“Last week she just got too keyed up, Jody (Jamieson) said, and made a break, but she was good tonight,” said Darling, who bred, owns and trains Neon Moon. “She was a little wobbly going around the first turn — my horses, the half-mile track isn’t really their strong suit because they’re pretty good sized mares and I train on a big track — but once she got around the turns she was really good after that.”
Another daughter of Sportswriter, out of Darling’s former race mare Beach Of A Time, Neon Moon now sports a record of two wins and one second in four starts and sits in a four-way tie for second in the Grassroots standings with 100 points.
Monday was the second night this season Darling and Jamieson have captured a pair of two-year-old pacing filly Grassroots trophies, Write Me A Song and Neon Moon were both victorious at Mohawk on July 21, and they came within a nose of making it a hat trick at Grand River.
In the second division Jamieson and Munchies Hanover went head-to-head with Doug McNair and Ashlees Sport through the last quarter of the mile and the fillies finished so close at the wire it required a photograph to determine the winner. Ashlees Sport prevailed by a scant nose over Munchies Hanover, with the duelling leaders well ahead of third-place finisher Lady Everlong.
“She raced good, just came up a nose short,” said Darling of the daughter of Sportswriter and Mouse Hanover, who was a $67,000 purchase out of the 2016 Harrisburg Yearling Sale and was making her debut in the Ontario Sires Stakes program.
Guelph-Eramosa Township resident McNair piloted Ashlees Sport to the 1:56.2 win for trainer Blake MacIntosh of Cambridge and his partners Stuart McIntosh and Marceline Barnett of Essex, ON and Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, PA. The win was the first of the season for the Sportswriter filly, who was a $42,000 acquisition from the Lexington-Selected Yearling Sale.
“She raced good. We left hard and came first up, she raced tough,” said McNair. “It wasn’t a big last quarter (:31), but she had an excuse to get tired.”
Lady Bubbles, who was third in the Battle of the Belles Final, earned her second Grassroots trophy in the fourth division, besting Shower Play and Daily Sports by a neck in 1:57. Guelph resident Scott Young piloted the Sportswriter daughter to the win for trainer Mark Steacy of Lansdowne, ON and owner-breeder Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, QC.
Duchess Dolly also picked up her second Grassroots trophy in the last division, hitting the wire one and one-half lengths ahead of Sunday Afternoon and Dolly Dali. Mike Saftic of Campbellville drove the Shadow Play daughter to the 1:57.2 win for trainer Jim Wellwood of Ancaster and owner Jeff Wellwood of Toronto, ON, who acquired the filly for $27,000 at last fall’s Forest City Yearling Sale.
The two-year-old pacing fillies will make their fourth Grassroots start at Mohawk Racetrack on August 24.
Ontario Sires Stakes excitement continues at Grand River Raceway this week as the Elora oval welcomes back the two-year-old pacing colts for their third Grassroots event on Wednesday, August 16. The colts will battle in Races 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9, with a first race post time of 6:30 p.m.