Southwind Shania clocked the quickest mile in a quartet of $18,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old pacing fillies at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday evening.
In rein to Arthur, Ont. resident Trevor Henry, favourite Southwind Shania fired straight to the front from post four and sailed through fractions of :27.2, :56.3 and 1:26.3 on her way to a 1:56.3 clocking. Dancin Inthe Nude and Northern Prima were three lengths back in second and third.
“Hopefully tonight is a step in the right direction for her,” said trainer Casie Coleman. “She trained down like a real good filly — I thought like a Gold and maybe open calibre — and things haven’t panned out. She’s been disappointing so far.”
Coleman shares ownership of Southwind Shania with her partners in the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Ont., Let It Ride Stables Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida and Steve Calhoun of Chatham, Ont. Wednesday’s victory was the Sportswriter daughter’s first in nine starts, with three of them coming in the Grassroots program and two at the Gold Series level.
With just one win, one third and one fourth in her Grassroots appearances, Southwind Shania finished short of the cut off for the Grassroots post-season. Coleman said the filly will have an opportunity to maintain her forward progress in a few more overnight events before being sold in November.
“She is a nice filly, but I don’t believe Grand Circuit, so she will be sold in Harrisburg,” said the Cambridge resident.
Driver Trevor Henry also piloted St Lads Smokin Hot to a win in the final Grassroots division of the evening.
Also starting from post four, Henry settled St Lads Smokin Hot into third as Noone To Depend On rolled out to a :28.3 opening quarter. Heading for the :58.2 half, Henry tipped the fan favourite into the outer lane and St Lads Smokin Hot had taken control before the 1:27.3 three-quarters. From there, the filly cruised home to a two length victory in 1:57.2, besting Endless Legacy and Buttermilk Hanover.
Richard Moreau of Puslinch, Ont. conditions St Lads Smokin Hot for Holland Racing Stable of Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont. In five Grassroots starts, the No Pan Intended daughter posted two wins, two thirds and one sixth for a point total of 127, good enough for fifth spot in the division standings.
“She’s a big filly that only gives as much as she has to, but she is game and they will know she is there next week,” said Henry, who will steer the filly in one of two $20,000 Semi-finals at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 17.
The largest margin of victory on the evening was posted by Divas Image, who hit the wire 10 and one-half lengths ahead of the third division field in a sharp 1:56.4. Stonebridge Pearl and Tempus Seelster followed the fan favourite down the stretch into second and third.
Guelph, Ont. resident Paul MacDonell crafted the win, the filly’s second of the season, for trainer Mark Steacy of Lansdowne, Ont. and his partners Bannon Stables of Napanee, Ont. and Diane Bertrand, Edmonton, Alta. The partners also bred and raised the daughter of Bettors Delight and Rocknroll Diva.
“She is a real sweetheart of a filly that we bred because we really believed in her mother, but she was injured badly at two,” explained Steacy.
“Although she’s small, ‘Diva’ has a great gait and lots of brains,” the trainer continued. “We have raced her from off the pace in most of her races and I think it has allowed her to develop into a very nice filly who should go into the Semi-final very brave.”
Divas Image finished the regular season with one win, two seconds, two thirds and one fifth in six Grassroots starts, earning 129 points and putting her in fourth spot in the standings.
The other $18,000 Grassroots division was captured by Im In Luv, who tipped out of the outer lane turning for home and paced under the wire a one length victor in 1:58.1. Pocket-sitter Glorious Delight finished second and the leader of the outer lane parade, Specialcelebration, finished third.
“She got a perfect trip and she responded well,” said Moffat, Ont. resident Jody Jamieson, who guided the filly to her second Grassroots victory. “Semi-finals next.”
Jamieson’s father Carl of Rockwood, Ont. trains Im In Luv and shares ownership of the Badlands Hanover daughter with Thomas Kyron of Toronto, Ont. and George Harrison of Preston, England. In six Grassroots outings, the filly posted two wins, two fourths and two fifths for a total of 126 points and sixth spot in the standings.
Wednesday’s event completed the regular season events for all eight Grassroots divisions. The top 20 point-earners from each two-year-old division will battle in Semi-final action at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 17 and the three-year-olds on Sept. 18. The top five finishers from each Semi-final will make their way back to Mohawk on Sept. 26 for the Grassroots Championships.
The Ontario Sires Stakes program makes one more stop at Grand River Raceway, a Gold leg for the two-year-old pacing fillies on Monday, Sept. 21.