Oceanview Bindi, driven by harness racing driver Keith Oliver, delivered on her 1-5 pari-mutuel promise in a $20,000 opening round division of the Niagara Series on Friday night at Woodbine.
The three-year-old pacing filly took all the spoils in the first dash with a 1:53.4 career-best performance for trainer George Plyley.
Oceanview Bindi got away fifth behind R U For Me (Randy Waples), who put up a :27.2 opening panel.
As the tempo-setter clocked the half in :57.4, Oceanview Bindi tracked a first-up Caviart Mandy (Doug McNair). But when Oceanview Bindi’s cover stalled, Oliver tipped his charge three-wide in the final turn.
As soon as R U For Me marched past the three-quarters in 1:26.3, the bettors’ choice swiftly struck the front. Oceanview Bindi then distanced herself from her six rivals, scoring the triumph by four and three-quarter lengths. R U For Me stayed for second and longshot Makes Her Mark (Sylvain Filion) rallied for third.
“It was the first time I drove her,” said Oliver, following the win. “I didn’t know much about her. I’d seen she likes to race off cover. She just raced super tonight. When I moved her she was just full of pace.”
Although the reinsman ran into some traffic trouble around the final turn, Oliver was confident that Oceanview Bindi would find victory lane.
“She was grabbing on pretty good,” said the reinsman. “We weren’t going real fast right at that part and Dougie’s horse (driver Doug McNair and Caviart Mandy) was starting to back up a bit so I wheeled her three-deep and she just paced straight through it.”
The daughter of-Hygeia Hanover, who was unraced as a two-year-old, has a lifetime record of 9-4-3 from 19 starts and career earnings of $54,565 for Plyley and William Roloson.
Oceanview Bindi returned $2.60 to win.
Greystone Ladylike, driven by Sylvain Filion, found the path to the winner's circle in the second division.
The Brent Belore trainee followed behind fractions of :26.2, :55.4 and 1:24, clocked by the 9-5 favourite, Aubsession (Luc Ouellette).
When Apach Of Luck (Scott Zeron) made a bid for command from third around the final turn, Greystone Ladylike tracked second-over. It wasn’t until they were mid-way down the stretch that the pacing miss vaulted off cover.
Greystone Ladylike opened up by three and a quarter lengths to get under the wire first in 1:52.1. Apach Of Luck finished second and Natural Instinct (Doug McNair) got up for third.
“I was kind of surprised (how strong Greystone Ladylike was to the wire), because she wouldn’t relax for me in the hole,” said Filion. “I was kind of worried because usually they wear out like that, but when I moved her she really went on and that was good for her.”
The homebred daughter of-Lady Courtalisa, who was unraced as a rookie, has a lifetime record of 6-6-0 from 23 starts and career earnings of $62,894 for owner/breeder James and Jean Caddey.
The bay returned $8.90 to win as the third choice.
The $30,000 second leg of the Niagara, which is for sophomore pacing fillies, who are non-winners of $50,000 lifetime as of October 31, is scheduled for Monday, December 17.
The $60,000 final is slated for Woodbine’s Boxing Day card (Wednesday, December 26), which will have a special 1 p.m. post time.
Live standardbred racing returns to the Toronto oval Saturday night with a 7:30 p.m. first-race post time. On the 11-race programme, three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will contest the opening leg of the Valedictory Series.
by Ashley MAYOTTE