Driver Trevor Henry guided a pair of three-year-old trotting fillies to Grassroots glory at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday evening (July 19), capturing the second and third of five $15,600 divisions.
Climbing onto the race bike behind Hilarious Honey for the third time this season, Henry was immediately impressed by the improvement in the filly’s gait since trainer Ted MacDonnell added trotting hopples to her equipment bag last week. Based on that improvement, the Arthur, Ont. resident sent Hilarious Honey straight to the front from Post 3, and the Muscle Mass daughter rolled through fractions of :28.4, :59.2 and 1:30 on her way to a two and three-quarter length victory in 1:59.4. Pocket-sitter Twin B Venus trotted into second and Angies Dish was six more lengths back in third.
“She raced great. She was trotting a lot better than the last time I drove her [on June 20],” said Henry. “Ted’s done a great job with her.”
Allenford, Ont. resident MacDonnell trains Hilarious Honey for owner/breeder Jeffrey Oborne of Jordan Station, Ont. Wednesday’s win was the filly’s first in 15 lifetime starts and boosted her earnings to $23,800.
One race later, Henry lined up at Post 2 with Jilona and the reinsman once again sent his charge directly to the front. Jilona trotted through a :28.3 quarter, :58.3 half and 1:28 three-quarters and held off challenger Northern Oath to record a three-quarter length victory in 1:58.3. Fan favourite Angora Seelster was one more length back in third.
“Jilona is just starting to come around. She was sick and had trouble with tying up so we used the Equiwinner patch on her and she turned right around,” said Henry. “We’re very happy with her.”
Shannon Henry handles training duties on Jilona and the couple share ownership of the filly with numbered company 1035840 Ontario Inc., also of Arthur. A Grassroots winner at two, the daughter of Johnny William had been winless through five sophomore starts prior to Wednesday’s effort, which boosted her lifetime earnings to $35,233.
Driver James MacDonald and trainer Mark Steacy also teamed up to record two Grassroots victories at Grand River on Wednesday. Stritch scored her first-ever Grassroots win in the fourth division, while division point leader Delcrest Magicstar earned her third of the season in the last split.
Starting from Post 1, Stritch tucked in behind Whole Lot Of Sugar as that filly led the field of eight through fractions of :28.2, :59 and 1:28.1, then slipped out in the stretch and powered home to a half-length victory in 1:58.1. Whole Lot Of Sugar settled for second, while Ladyabra rounded out the top three.
“Stritch was great. She drew good and took advantage of a great trip,” said Guelph, Ont. resident MacDonald of the Majestic Son daughter’s first-ever Grassroots win.
MacDonald and Lansdowne, Ont. resident Steacy crafted the win for owners David Reid of Glenburnie, Ont., James Feeley of Pine Bush, New York, Bridle Path Stables Ltd. of Ossining, New York and Stephen Klunowski of North York, Ont.
Of the five previous Grassroots winners that made the trip to Elora for the third event of the three-year-old trotting filly season only Delcrest Magicstar was able to add to her trophy collection. The division point leader has been flawless in Grassroots action to date and she led from start to finish on Wednesday, sailing through fractions of :29, 1:00.1 and 1:30.1 on her way to a five-length win in 1:59.3. Kendras Coco and Inner Drive completed the top three.
“She’s riding a hot streak,” said MacDonald. “I just took my time getting her to the front and she was really strong the rest of the way. I just had to keep her out of trouble.”
The driver shares ownership of Delcrest Magicstar with Peter Porter of Port Dover, Ont., and Johnathan McKinnon of Guelph, Ont. In eight starts this season, the Majestic Son daughter now has four wins and earnings of $36,855. With her flawless record of three wins in three Grassroots starts, she sits atop the division standings with 150 points, 67 points ahead of the second-ranked filly.
The other Grassroots trophy went home with Millers Song, who trotted under the Grand River finish line in a personal best 1:59.3, keeping a head in front of favourite Late Shift and Bustingattheseams. Louis-Philippe Roy engineered the Windsong Espoir daughter’s first Grassroots victory and fourth win of the season for trainer Tom Riley and owner Amanda Riley of Roseneath, Ont.
The three-year-old trotting fillies will make their fourth Grassroots start at Mohawk Racetrack on August 14.
Next up on Grand River Raceway’s Ontario Sires Stakes schedule is a Grassroots event for the three-year-old pacing colts, part of the Elora oval’s signature Industry Day card on Civic Holiday Monday, Aug. 7. Post time for the Industry Day program, which also features the Battle of Waterloo for two-year-old pacing colts and the Battle of the Belles for two-year-old pacing fillies, is 1:30 p/m.
During the regular Wednesday night racing action at Grand River, Sandy Win held off the trailing tier tracker, Solid Queen, when that mare closed inside down the stretch to win the $7,500 Fillies & Mares Preferred 3 Pace by a neck in 1:55.4 with J Harris driving for Alagna Racing.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)