Day At The Track

Gold Series trotters make history in Elora

08:40 PM 20 Aug 2020 NZST
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ELORA, AUG. 19, 2020 - Harness racing fans that tuned into the Grand River Raceway program on Wednesday, Aug. 19 were treated to not one, not two, but three record setting performances by Ontario's top two-year-old trotting fillies and three-year-old trotting colts.

Fox Valley Liza kicked off the speed show in the first $107,200 two-year-old trotting filly Gold Series division. Starting from Post 1 the fan favourite settled in fourth as Blackout Riley led the field to a :29 opening quarter. Around the second turn driver Sylvain Filion sent Fox Valley Liza after the lead and the filly had taken command by the :58.4 half. Rubys Are Nice mounted a challenge heading by the 1:28 three-quarters, but Filion was unconcerned and in the stretch Fox Valley Liza drew away to a five and one-half length victory in 1:57.4. You Will Be Queen finished second and Pixies Lady was elevated to third due to errors by two of her peers.

The mile bettered the Grand River Raceway track record by one second and equalled the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) and Canadian record set by Devils Advocate at Flamboro Downs in 2015.

"She raced real good, she raced tough," said trainer Ben Baillargeon. "She made a big move at the quarter mile and she held on tight with the plugs in. She raced real good."

Baillargeon conditions the Muscle Mass daughter for Anthony Lombardi of Morris, IL, Henshaut Stable of Montgomery, IN and George Golemes of Oak Brook, IL. The win was Fox Valley Liza's second in Gold Series action; she was also victorious in the July 12 season opener at Georgian Downs.

"She won easy the first Gold at Georgian and Sylvain said she was very fast and then we got side-tracked for a little bit. I raced her in the Pure Ivory (July 23), she run at the gate, the next Gold (July 31) she was a little sick and she was very grabby, she finished fifth," said Baillargeon. "We treated her up and last week (Aug. 11) she had the nine-hole and she got in all kinds of road trouble and she still trotted her last half in :56. Doug McNair did a real good job for me, he babysat her and I even told Doug tonight, I said, 'Thank you for not hurting my filly last week'. She was real strong last week and so we were, I was anxious to race her tonight. I liked my chances."

Fox Valley Liza's tenure in the Grand River Raceway record books was brief however, as Imextraspecial and Trevor Henry stormed to the lead from Post 1 and never looked back, rolling to a one and three-quarter length victory in 1:57.3. Fan favourite Up And Ready settled for second and Fuzzy Angel was four lengths back in third.

The mile gave Imextraspecial the track, OSS and Canadian record for a two-year-old trotting filly on a half-mile track.

"The track was hard and fast tonight," said Henry. "She raced great, got off the gate extra great. She handles the turns so well. Paul (Walker) has done a great job with her, all I've got to do is keep her out of trouble."

Henry drives the Muscle Mass daughter for trainer Paul Walker of Owen Sound and owner Keith Coulter of Mono, ON. The win was Imextraspecial's third in OSS action, with the other two coming in the Grassroots program.

In the evening's finale, nine of the province's best three-year-old trotting colts squared up to the gate for a $157,200 Gold Series division and, from Post 1, Sylvain Filion and Hayek simply said catch me if you can. The pair fired off the wings and, pressed by Moon Bridge, rang up a :27.3 quarter and a :56 half. As Moon Bridge started to fade Hot Wheelz took up the challenge and pushed Hayek through a 1:25 three-quarters. The pressure did not trouble the co-favourites however and Hayek pulled away to a four and one-quarter length victory in a spectacular 1:53.3. Hot Wheelz finished second and the other co-favourite, Pemberton, was third from the outside Post 8.

The mile was the fastest ever recorded by a trotter, of any age, on a half-mile track in Canada. It lowered the Grand River Raceway all-age record and the OSS thee-year-old trotting colt record by almost a full second.

"He's not an easy horse, but he's very fast. Tonight he was pretty wound up when I warmed him up and we had the rail, and when he came out of the turn he charged that gate and I said, 'Go gate, get out of the way'. I closed my eyes going into the first turn," said Ben Baillargeon with a chuckle. "He was pretty handy. Sylvain said he wasn't all out though. They come after him all the mile. Bob (McClure with Moon Bridge) come and then Jody (Jamieson with Hot Wheelz) came, they all come and he fought them all."

The Guelph resident shares ownership of Hayek with Teresa Davidson of Milton, Santo Vena of Brampton and Nunzio Vena of Bolton, ON. The win was the E L Titan gelding's second in Gold Series action and his fourth of the season.

So long as they remain happy and healthy Hayek and his stablemate HP Royal Theo, who made a break in the first turn and finished at the back of the field, will make their next start in the Aug. 28 Goodtimes eliminations at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

"Theo, he run last year here in the first turn and he did the same thing this year. He just seems like he's not comfortable, so we're going to put an 'X' on that race and we're going to focus on the Goodtimes next week, that's all you can do. We're going to regroup a little bit with Theo and the other one, well I'm just going to try and control his speed," said Baillargeon. "I would like to see him race in a hole in the future, but listen, for $150,000 tonight, come and get me."

The two-year-old trotting fillies will make their fourth Gold Series start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 21, while the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings resume their Gold Series rivalry at the Milton, ON oval on Sept. 28.

On Sept. 4 Grand River Raceway will welcome the two-year-old pacing fillies back to Elora for their fourth Gold Series event.

Complete results from Wednesday's program are available at Grand River Raceway Results.

 

 

OSS Program Information

For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com

Ontario Racing

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