In the spring of 2012 three pacing fillies were born at Oak Knoll Stables in Campbellcroft, ON and named OK Heartbeat, OK Heavenly and OK Hallelujah by their breeders Ken Morden and Caroline Thornton.
After spending the first 18 months of their lives frolicking at Oak Knoll, the fillies entered the care of trainer Mark Steacy, where they learned how to wear a harness, pull a jog cart, take guidance from a driver, and pace around a racetrack. All three fillies proved adept at their new roles and last season they all raced in the Grassroots program, with OK Heavenly and OK Hallelujah competing in the Grassroots Championship.
This season the fillies have continued where they left off and at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday night, in the last regular season event, all three secured a berth in the three-year-old pacing filly Grassroots Semi-finals; OK Hallelujah with a win and OK Heartbeat and OK Heavenly with third-place finishes.
“They have been a lot of fun since there were born, raised, bought, broke, trained, paddocked and trucked to race together,” said Steacy. “I don’t know what they will do when someday they will have to be separated.”
The fillies delayed their eventual separation with Monday’s strong efforts, starting with OK Heartbeat in the first Grassroots division. The Mach Three daughter and driver Jody Jamieson closed hard to finish just a neck behind winner Lovely Erin and runner-up Twin B Honour. Twin B Honour and driver Jonathan Drury carved out fractions of :26.2, :54.2 and 1:22.3, but could not hold off favourite Lovely Erin and Doug McNair at the wire.
It was the second straight Grassroots win for Lovely Erin, a Sportswriter daughter trained by Ron Adams for numbered company 1362313 Ontario Ltd of Windsor. The 1:52.2 clocking was a personal best for Lovely Erin, who finished the season in eighth with 112 points.
Her third-place result saw OK Heartbeat wrap up the regular season in twelfth spot with 80 points. The filly is owned by Oak Knoll Stables, Higgs Boys Stable of Gananoque, ON, Conrad Leber of Montreal, QC and Wheelhouse Racing Stable of Mississauga, ON.
The next OK filly on the Mohawk starting gate was OK Heavenly who, with Jamieson in the race bike, hit the wire four lengths behind duelling leaders Stonebridge Quest and Aniston Seelster. Heavy favourite Stonebridge Quest reeled off fractions of :27.2, :56.3 and 1:25 and then battled down the stretch for a neck victory in 1:53 over a charging Aniston Seelster.
Stonebridge Quest completed her regular season with a flawless record of four wins in four Grassroots starts and 200 points, putting her atop the three-year-old pacing filly leaderboard. Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON drives the Camluck daughter for trainer Andrew McCabe of Rockwood, ON and owners Glenview Livestock Ltd of Guelph-Eramosa, ON and Angie Stiller of Arva, ON.
Her third-place result left Sportswriter daughter OK Heavenly in tenth spot in the division standings with 106 points on behalf of Oak Knoll Stables, Conrad Leber, Wheelhouse Racing Stable and Richard Karper of Saint-Laurent, QC.
Of the three nursery-mates, OK Hallelujah delivered the most impressive result of the evening, rocketing down the stretch to a two and three-quarter length victory over Machmeter and Southwind Geisha in a personal best 1:52.2.
Katherine Steacy of Lansdowne, ON shares ownership of OK Hallelujah with Oak Knoll Stables, Conrad Leber and Wheelhouse Racing Stable. The win was the Sportswriter filly’s second in Grassroots action and boosted her from eighteenth in the standings to eleventh, sandwiched between her stablemates. Guelph, ON resident Phil Hudon piloted OK Hallelujah to the win.
“I always though Heavenly was the best, but tonight the other two raced better,” noted Steacy. “Hallelujah is probably the hardest trier of the three.
“All three have been fairly consistent when drawing decent post positions,” the Lansdowne resident continued. “They went through a period of sickness, but hopefully will be healthy from here on.”
OK Heartbeat, OK Heavenly and OK Hallelujah — along with the other 17 fillies in the top 20 — will now begin preparations for the Sept. 18 Semi-finals at Mohawk, with the goal of finishing in the top five and earning a berth in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship, back at the Campbellville oval on Sept. 26.
The two-year-old trotting fillies will also wrap up their Grassroots regular season over the Mohawk Racetrack oval on Tuesday, Sept. 8, competing in Races 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8. The first race goes postward at 7:25 p.m.