A group of 10 fillies lined up on both the trot and the pace to contest the rich finals. The three-year-old filly trot final carried a purse of $179,661, while the pacing fillies battled for a purse of $177,661.
The sophomore trotting fillies squared off in the first final of the night and O’Brien Award winner Stubborn Belle added to her trophy collection with a 1:55 victory.
Driven by Paul MacDonell, Stubborn Belle, the 4-5 favourite, showed early speed to win the battle to the front ahead of a trio of fillies and posted an opening quarter of :27.1.
Battle Mage, who was parked around the first turn, was able to clear to the front as they began the journey down the backstretch, but MacDonell wasted no time circling back around to put Stubborn Belle once again on the lead at the half in :56.2.
Stubborn Belle was then able to turn aside the challenge of Meadow Seelster past three-quarters in 1:25.3 around the final turn and opened up several lengths on the field. The public’s choice trotted home in :29.2 to score a three-length victory.
Meadow Seelster finished second, while Tymal Illbethere got up for third.
Following the race, MacDonell said his filly showed improvements from her elimination victory a week prior.
“She just seems to be getting better every week as we go,” said MacDonell. “She’s actually come a long way. She had a little incident early in the year [and] got behind a bit, but anyways she’s back on schedule now.”
A daughter of Taurus Dream, Stubborn Belle is trained by John Bax and owned by Bax’s Parkhill Stud Farm and Al Libfeld. She is now two-for-two to start the season and has visited the winner’s circle seven times in her career.
Stubborn Belle is staked to several of the major Grand Circuit events this season and MacDonell thinks her conditioning will improve as the season progresses to allow her to battle with the best fillies in the sport.
“She’s got the power and strength, it’s just a matter of her conditioning kicking in and mid-season John’s [Bax] horses usually get better and better, so I can see her doing that.”
The WEG-SBOA victory pushes Stubborn Belle’s career earnings over $614,000.
A $2 win ticket on the Bax trainee returned $3.70.
Following the filly trot final, the sky opened up and downpour of rain soaked the Campbellville, Ont oval.
After a brief delay due to a power outage a few races later on the card, the final for three-year-old pacing fillies was contested and Solar Sister prevailed in a stretch duel over Ms Mac N Cheese.
Driven by Doug McNair, Solar Sister, who won her elimination last week, was able to get away in fourth, while Code One Hanover grabbed the early lead into a :26.1 opening panel.
In the second quarter, Ms Mac N Cheese, the other elimination winner, moved from third to first and took the field by the half in :54.2.
Solar Sister had to come first up around the final turn and engaged in a battle with the leader by the three-quarter pole in 1:23.1.
In the stretch, the two elimination winners went toe-to-toe with Solar Sister edging ahead part way down the lane, but Ms Mac N Cheese battled back on the inside. The fillies slugged it out right to the wire and it was Solar Sister prevailing by a neck in 1:51.2.
“I thought I had her [Ms Mac N Cheese] put away half way down the lane and she still came back right down to the wire, so it was a good race,” said McNair post-race. “My filly raced tough first over. To win on a night like this, she raced good.”
Wrangler Magic finished third and Delightful Hill finished fourth to round out the Superfecta.
A daughter of Mach Three, Solar Sister is trained by Gregg McNair for owners David Willmot and Clay Horner. Saturday’s victory improves Solar Sister’s record to three-for-three this season and now gives her five career victories. Last season, Solar Sister banked over $214,000 and wrapped up her season with a second-place finish in the Three Diamonds Stakes.
“She got good at the end of last year and she’s got good pedigree on her,” said McNair. “She seems obviously a hundred percent, she’s three-for-three, and hopefully she keeps getting stronger.”
Solar Sister now has career earnings of over $326,000 and established a new career-best with her 1:51.2 score.
A $2 win ticket on the McNair trainee returned $4.20 to win.
(Standardbred Canada With files from WEG)