L A Delight And Divas Image Take Home OSS Gold At Grand River

On the Industry Day undercard, L A Delight turned in a track record-equalling performance for three-year-old filly pacers with a dominant 1:53.1 victory in the afternoon’s second $105,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division.

L A Delight easily matched the divisional track record that was originally set by Seaside Rory on August 26, 2013 for former Battle of Waterloo champions, driver Randy Waples and trainer Bob McIntosh.

Leaving from the inside, Good Will Hanover (Chris Christoforou) established the lead off the gate with the rest of the field lined up in post position order early on, except for breaker Lay Lady Lay (Mike Saftic), before 3-5 favourite L A Delight and Waples swept from third to first by the :27.4 quarter pole.

Cracklin Rosie (Doug McNair) then advanced first over from fourth and briefly collared L A Delight as they raced past the half in :55.4, but L A Delight regained the lead on the turn moving into the backstretch and put away that challenger on the way to three-quarters in 1:24.

With L A Delight beginning to get away on the field on top, Mayhem Seelster (Sylvain Filon) fanned wide off the fading cover and came on for second. L A Delight was long gone entering the stretch and she secured her third Gold victory of the season with an eight-length winning margin. Last year’s Battle of the Belles champion, Free Show (Jody Jamieson), finish third.

After the race, Waples said it was an easy win for the Bettors Delight-West Of L A filly, who could have taken down the track record.

“It was real easy for me, I haven’t asked her yet,” quipped Waples. “For me, where I was sitting and everything, it was just a nice cool breeze and everything worked good.

“She was out far enough away that I was pretty sure that nobody was going to make a surprise move and reel her in. I just kept bringing her back to the field as much as I could. It’s a long year for them. One thing about Bob, he’s never been one for track records; he just likes to have them win.”

L A Delight is owned by Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. of Windsor, Ont., Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, Ont., and C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio. After her O’Brien Award-winning freshman season, the homebred filly has been perfect in the Gold Series this year, taking a mark of 1:51.2 at Mohawk Racetrack on July 9.

“She’s the grandmother that you had that baked you cookies and told you when you got a D it’s really not that bad. She’s just a real sweetheart of a horse,” said Waples. “She’s just sweet to be around, she’s sweet in a race, and she just does everything that she’s supposed to. She’s a total professional.”

A winner of 15 of her 20 lifetime starts and $945,829, L A Delight rebounded from a puzzling break in stride in her last race and only start outside Canada so far in her career, the Mistletoe Shalee on July 16 at The Meadowlands.

“As far as I know, she’s never even made a break training down so it was completely unexpected,” said Waples, addressing the miscue. “Nobody seems to know really what she did. It looks liked she either maybe stepped over something or shied from something because, like I said, she’s never made a break — she didn’t know what she was doing when she was running. It was really unfortunate. It would have been nice to see her go in against those [Grand Circuit] fillies and come out of it with a huge mark because I think the race ended up going in [1]:49 and change and I still believe she would have won the race if things had of worked out better for her. But nobody seems to know and, touch Randy’s wooden head, it didn’t happen today.”

Divas Image claimed her first Ontario Sires Stakes Gold trophy with a strong front-end performance in the first $105,000 division to begin the stakes action on the Industry Day program.

New Jersey reinsman Joe Bongiorno was in town for his Grand River Raceway driving debut aboard the Bettors Delight-Rocknroll Diva filly for trainer Richard Johnson and New York owners Our Horse Cents Stables, Jt45 LLC, and J And T Silva Stables LLC.

“I haven’t been here before, but I definitely enjoyed the short trip that I was here for,” said the 22-year-old up-and-coming driver. “The track seems nice to me and I was just very happy with the way the filly raced.”

Sent postward as the heavy 1-9 favourite, Divas Image and Bongiorno used their inside post position to secure the lead around the first turn over Danish N Coffee (Randy Waples) while Maniana (Jody Jamieson) left from post three and worked to clear through the first quarter in :27.4. However, Divas Image quickly retook the lead and raced to the half in :57 while Danish N Coffee tipped out and advanced into a two-hole opening.

“It’s more of a hassle to not let him [Jamieson] go and get run down,” noted Bongiorno on his early racing strategy. “So to let him go and then come back easy like we did, it was just easier to do that and it worked out better for me, for sure.”

Party In Rome (Trevor Henry) then pursued outside down the backstretch and moved up within two lengths of the leader, who was still clear on top by three-quarters in 1:25.1. She tucked in briefly behind Divas Image on the final turn before moving back out for the stretch drive. Divas Image remained strong on the lead down the lane though, holding off Party In Rome by three-quarters of a length in a career-best clocking of 1:53.3, which was just two-fifths of a second off the divisional track record. Party In Rome settled for second while Killean Finale (Jason Ryan) finished third.

Divas Image, who was a Grassroots winner over the Elora, Ont. oval as a two-year-old, was recently acquired by her U.S. connections and entered Monday’s Gold event off a pair of 1:54 and change victories over Yonkers Raceway.

“She’s a really nice filly,” said Bongiorno. “We’ve raced her twice since we’ve had her and she’s been excellent. Both times at Yonkers she was in hand and I had a feeling she would go a big mile over here today.”

Divas Image now has five victories from 18 career starts and earnings totalling $133,520.

The Ontario Sires Stakes sophomore pacing fillies will meet again in the fourth Gold Series leg on August 21 at Rideau Carleton Raceway.

(Standardbred Canada)

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