Exhilarated persisted first over to win Monday night’s featured $10,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 2 Handicap Pace at Grand River Raceway.
The four-year-old Mach Three mare earned her third straight victory since being claimed for $22,500 one month ago at Mohawk Racetrack by David Snowden of Bowmanville, Ont.
With the inside post advantage, Tail R Swift (Robert Shepherd) emerged with the lead through a :27.2 first quarter while forcing the leaving post two starter, Shellace (Lorne House), to take back into the pocket. Meanwhile, 4-5 favourite Exhilarated also hustled off the gate from post seven, and after a brief tuck into third, she went on the attack coming off the turn in front of the grandstand. Exhilarated rushed ahead of Tail R Swift at the :56.4 half-mile mark, but was caught on the outside around the next turn and Tail R Swift regained the lead. However, Exhilarated refused to throw in the towel and edged by Tail R Swift nearing three-quarters in 1:25 before opening up three lengths en route to the 1:54.1 triumph. Windsong Glamorous (Billy Davis Jr.) and Insincerity (Bob McClure) came on to finish second and third, respectively.
Exhilarated completed a sweep of the late Daily Double for driver Travis Henry and trainer Carmen Auciello. The evening’s final two winners, Exhilarated ($3.90) and stablemate Scotty Mach N ($22.80), combined for a $84.60 late Daily Double payout.
Prior to the the Henry/Auciello double, Federal Army earned his second consecutive Grand River win with a wire-to-wire effort in the $7,500 Preferred 3 Trot. He left for the lead from post five and cleared slight favourite Rainbow Gold (Dennis Duford) into the backstretch. Federal Army then carved out fractions of :29.2, :59.3 and 1:29.2 with Rainbow Gold on his back while Tequila Haze (Bob McClure) advanced down the backstretch around fading cover and came on for third. The four-year-old Federal Flex gelding took a new lifetime mark of 1:58.3 for drainer/driver Bruce Richardson, who shares ownership with Randy Marriage of Clinton, Ont. and J. Peter Irwin of Ayton, Ont.
The night began with driver Bob McClure sweeping the early Daily Double, which paid $39.50, courtesy of the Brad Shakes-trained Singhampton Kenny ($8.10) and Craig Gilmour-conditioned Smalltown Terror ($5.20).