Two-year-old trotting fillies were the stars of Mohawk Racetrack’s Tuesday evening program, with the winners of all three Grassroots divisions delivering personal best efforts in the regular season finale.
Jilona opened the evening’s festivities with a confident steer from Trevor Henry that saw her blast off the starting gate from Post 9 to a :29 opening quarter. The pair had opened up two lengths on the field by the :59.4 half, and when fan favourite Delcrest Magicstar came calling at the 1:29.4 three-quarters, Jilona found another gear. After sprinting down the stretch, Jilona reached the finish two and one-half lengths ahead of Delcrest Magicstar and Hilarious Honey in 1:58.2.
“She has had a lot of problems with the virus and is finally healthy now,” said Henry. “Hopefully she can stay that way until the end of the season.”
Tuesday’s win was Jilona’s first in six starts, four of them coming in the Grassroots program. In addition to her victory, the daughter of Johnny William-Phoenix Hornline had posted one second, one fourth and one sixth in Grassroots action, giving her a point tally of 86 and a berth in the Sept. 15 Semi-finals.
Henry’s wife Shannon conditions Jilona and the Arthur residents share ownership of the filly with numbered company 1035840 Ontario Inc., also of Arthur, ON.
The second $18,000 division saw Anikadabra pick up her third Grassroots victory in an impressive 1:56.3 personal best.
In rein to driver Rick Zeron, Anikadabra fired away from Post 5 to a :28.1 opening quarter and then allowed fan favourite Powerful Mission to take control of the front end. Content to sit behind driver Phil Hudon and Powerful Mission through the :57.4 half, Zeron tipped Anikadabra off the rail when Paul MacDonell and Inner Drive started to threaten the leaders from the outer lane heading for the 1:27.4 three-quarters.
With open space in front of her, Anikadabra shifted into high gear and powered home to a three and one-quarter length victory. Powerful Mission and Inner Drive settled for second and third in the 1:56.3 mile.
“I said to him (trainer Rob Fellows) tonight, I said, I’m going to let her trot a little bit more,” said Zeron. “I said, there’s some front end speed in there that’s going to carry me, so we’ll see how she is coming off a horse’s back. He said, do whatever you gotta do, I never tell you how to drive.
“When Phil came I let him go and I was comfortable, and then when I heard Paul coming from behind me around the last turn I moved her over and went “Git”, and I tell you she was gone,” added the Oakville, ON resident. “She did the rest by herself. She’s a serious filly.”
In five starts, four in the Grassroots program and one at the Gold Series level, Anikadabra has tallied three wins, one third (in the Aug. 2 Gold Leg) and one fourth. She wraps up the regular season in second spot in the division point standings with 158.
Bred and owned by Edward Wilson of Seagrave, ON and Michael Pozefsky of Saratoga Springs, NY and trained by Rockwood, ON resident Fellows, the daughter of Kadabra-Anikawiesahalee is a half-sister to $1,434,717 winner Resolve.
“She’s a very, very nice filly,” said Zeron. “She’ll be something to reckon with next year as a three-year-old, I’ll tell you that right now.”
The final Grassroots trophy of the evening went home with P C Pipe Dream and trainer-owner-breeder Peter Clements of Dobbinton, ON.
Starting from Post 4, driver Randy Waples eased P C Pipe Dream off the starting gate and settled fourth on the rail behind pacesetter Late Shift. As that filly rang up a :27.4 quarter and a :58.1 half, Waples remained on the rail, but heading for the 1:28.3 three-quarters the Milton resident sent P C Pipe Dream up the outside.
The fan favourite wore down the pacesetter and then held off a charging Northern Oath to secure a one-half length victory in a personal best 1:59.1. Northern Oath finished second and You Cant Afford Me got up for third.
The win was P C Pipe Dream’s second in Grassroots competition and gives her a total of 125 points and a berth in the post season.
The top 20 point earners will return to Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 15 for a pair of Semi-final battles, and the top five finishers from each Semi-final will be back at the Campbellville oval on Sept. 24 for their $50,000 Grassroots Championship.
Mohawk Racetrack hosts the Grassroots Semi-finals for all four two-year-old divisions on Thursday, Sept. 15 and the three-year-old divisions on Friday, Sept. 16. Grassroots Championship Night is Saturday, Sept. 24. Post time for all three programs is 7:30 p.m.