Facing older stakes mares in just the second start of her four-year-old campaign, O’Brien Award winner Solar Sister prevailed in a photo finish in the $100,000 Sam ‘Chip’ Noble III Memorial Pace co-featured on the Sunday, May 8 meet-closing card at Miami Valley Raceway.
Driven by Doug McNair, Canada’s 2015 Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year Solar Sister took the lead immediately off the gate before Canada’s reigning Older Pacing Mare of the Year Lady Shadow (Aaron Merriman) swept up from third to first at the :26.4 first quarter mark. Meanwhile, the 8-5 favoured Blue Chip Matchmaker champion Yagonnakissmeornot (Dan Dube) followed in third and she then tipped first over as they approached the half in :55.2.
As Yagonnakissmeornot progressed to take over command down the backstretch, Solar Sister slipped out in front of Safe From Terror (Josh Sutton) in the outer flow and charged up to challenge at the 1:22.3 third quarter mark. Purrfect Bags (Victor Kirby), who came through between horses on the backside and moved into third-place as Lady Shadow faded, rallied three-wide coming off the final turn.
A three-way battle ensued for the length of the stretch with Solar Sister ultimately edging out her rivals by a head for the 1:51.2 triumph. Yagonnakissmeornot finished second and Purrfect Bags was third in the photo finish.
Solar Sister survived a judges inquiry into interference caused in the third quarter and was deemed the official winner, paying $12.30 to her backers as the 5-1 co-third choice on the toteboard. After discussion with the drivers involved, judges ruled that confusion to trailing horses was caused by a drifting Lady Shadow, and therefore, there was no violation against Solar Sister when she moved out.
Solar Sister is a homebred Mach Three-Cabrini Hanover mare, who is trained by Gregg McNair for owners David Willmot of King City, Ont. and Toronto’s Clay Harland Horner.
“She’s been a good mare, pretty consistent her whole life,” noted Gregg McNair after the race. “She’s staked up to race against all the good mares all summer, so if she just continues like that, that’s where she’ll be.”
Solar Sister earned her 11th career win and has now banked $821,428 in 31 starts.