Top Royal ($17.20) sustained a first-over push to grind down pacesetter Heels On The Beach en route to a 1:55.1 victory in Wednesday evening’s (September 6) featured $10,000 Preferred 2 Handicap for distaff pacers at Grand River Raceway.
J Harris settled the four-year-old Royal Mattjesty mare just behind duelling leaders Mea Lilley Mark (Robert Shepherd) and Heels On The Beach (Alfie Carroll) on the first turn after being one of four to float forward. After tracking a :27.2 first quarter battle which saw Heels On The Beach work to claim command, Top Royal commenced her first-over ascent with five-eighths of the mile remaining, gradually encroaching upon Heels On The Beach before turning up the pressure after a :57.3 half mile.
Top Royal stuck a head in front with three-eighths to go, and extended her lead enough to clear Heels On The Beach just after passing the three-quarter mark in 1:26. With Heels On The Beach put away on the far turn and Mach Magic (Scott Coulter) levelling off at head-stretch after slipstreaming the winner’s live cover, Top Royal was able to gain separation from her five rivals upon cornering for home. In the end, she prevailed by 1-3/4 lengths over Whistys Paradise (Colin Kelly), who circled three-wide off the home turn to just reach second over Heels On The Beach.
The win was Top Royal’s second in three starts at the level, and the 14th of her career. Nicholas Boyd trains Top Royal for Brydown Farms, Inc.
In the sub-featured $7,500 Preferred 3 for pacing fillies and mares, Happy Hannah ($17.20) and Scott Young worked to an early lead over 3-5 favourite Solid Queen (Travis Cullen), and they made every pole a winning one. The three-year-old daughter of Well Said clicked off sectionals of :27.4, :57, and 1:25.2 on an uncontested lead before gaining separation on the far turn. While Solid Queen was successful in dismissing a stern first-over bid from Sr Beach Babe (Kelly) in the battle for second, she still finished 1-1/2 lengths in arrears of Happy Hannah’s 1:55 mile. McCovey Cove N (Jason Ryan) rallied into third after circling three-wide around stalled cover midway up the far side.
Stan Klemencic, the Hudson Standardbred Stable, Inc., and the Hutt Racing Stable share ownership of Happy Hannah, now a five-time winner who campaigns for trainer Mark Steacy.