Day At The Track

L A Delight impresses in Industry Day Gold

01:13 PM 02 Aug 2016 NZST
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Driver Randy Waples of Milton, ON pilots L A Delight to a Canadian season’s record
Driver Randy Waples of Milton, ON pilots L A Delight to a Canadian season’s record and track record equalling 1:53.1 win in Gold Series action on Grand River Raceway’s Aug. 1 Industry Day program.
Iron Horse Photo

AUG. 1, 2016 - Grand River Raceway's enthusiastic Industry Day crowd lent their full support to the harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies competing in a pair of Gold Series divisions on Monday afternoon, propelling first Divas Image and then L A Delight to Canadian season's records.

Warming up the large crowd for the track's signature races, the Battle of the Belles and Battle of Waterloo, the sophomore pacing fillies got the stakes action rolling in Race 2. Six fillies lined up behind the starting gate for the first $105,000 Gold division, and fan favourite Divas Image was quickest away from Post 1.

Driver Joe Bongiorno allowed Maniana and Jody Jamieson to take up temporary residence on the front end heading by the :27.4 quarter, but Bongiorno quickly sent Divas Image back to the front and the filly led the field to a :57 half and 1:25.1 three-quarters. Party In Rome and driver Trevor Henry mounted a late challenge from the outer lane, but Divas Image prevailed by three-quarters of a length in a personal best 1:53.3. Party In Rome settled for second with Killean Finale three lengths back in third. The mile established a national season's mark for three-year-old pacing fillies on a half-mile oval.

"She gets around it (half-mile track) perfect, like a hoop around a barrel, and she just does it so easily," said Bongiorno. "And believe it or not, she's better out of a hole."

Monday's victory was the third straight for Bongiorno and the daughter of Bettor's Delight and Rocknroll Diva. After being purchased out of the Mark Steacy barn at the end of June by Our Horse Cents Stables of Melville, NY, and JT45 LLC and J And T Silva Stables LLC of Long Beach, NY, the filly raced twice over the half-mile surface at Yonkers Raceway, winning both starts. The new ownership group and trainer Richard Johnson of Toms River, NJ asked Bongiorno to make the trip to Grand River for the Gold Series, an offer the young reinsman could not refuse.

"These owners purchased a nice filly, and I've driven her two starts at Yonkers, and they wanted me to drive her today, and as good as she's been it was definitely a hard thing to turn down, they go for such good money, and I knew a smaller track suits her," explained the Colts Neck, NJ resident. "She is a smaller filly, but she raced excellent and I think she'll go wherever she has to go right now."

Bongiorno added that Divas Image will compete in the fourth Gold Leg over Rideau Carleton Raceway's five-eighths mile oval on August 21.

Four races later fans sent reigning division champion L A Delight off as the heavy favourite and the filly took two-fifths of a second off the newly minted Canadian season's mark and equalled the Grand River Raceway track record with an effort that barely saw her break a sweat.

Goodwill Hanover and driver Chris Christoforou left smartly from Post 1, but L A Delight had taken command before the :27.4 quarter and proceeded to lead the field of six through a :55.4 half and 1:24 three-quarters before coasting to an eight length win in 1:53.1. Mayhem Seelster finished second and Free Show was third.

"It was real easy for me, I haven't asked her yet," joked driver Randy Waples in the winner's circle. "For me, where I was sitting and everything, it was just a nice cool breeze and everything worked good."

Waples steers the daughter of Bettor's Delight and West Of L A for owner-breeders Bob McIntosh of Windsor, who also trains the winner of $945,829, Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, ON and C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH and the reinsman says not much changed with the filly between her 11-win freshman season and her sophomore campaign.

"She got a little thicker and maybe grew a little bit taller, not much though. The big thing with her last year was that she was a small horse with a big gait, now she's a medium-sized horse with a bigger gait, but she's still got the heart and the brains that she had last year," said the Milton, ON resident. "So nothing's really changed, and thank God the driver didn't change either.

"Every time I see her name listed there and mine beside it, I'm very grateful," he added.

The filly came into Monday's test off a rare break in stride in the July 16 Mistletoe Shalee at The Meadowlands in New Jersey, an event that Waples was at a loss to explain.

"No one seems to know, it was just so out of the blue. This is a filly that's been racing two years and never made a break even training, and she certainly hasn't made one on me racing, but they're all capable of doing it if something's against them," said Waples, who handed the reins over to John Campbell for the July 16 start. "She was allowed to go one bad race in her career, and I guess that was it."

Like Divas Image, L A Delight will make her next Gold Series start at Rideau Carleton Raceway on August 21, looking for the fourth Gold trophy of her sophomore campaign and the ninth of her career.

Once the three-year-old pacing fillies had done their part to rev up the Industry Day crowd, they handed things over to the 2016 freshman pacing class. First up was the $107,800 Battle of the Belles and pacing filly Bid Writer took a page from her elder's book and fired out to the front from Post 2.

Bid Writer and driver James MacDonald of Guelph, ON rolled through fractions of :28, :57.2 and 1:26.4 before battling down the stretch to a head victory over fan favourite Aint Three OK. The duelling fillies hit the wire in 1:57, leaving Shanghai Sugar four and three-quarter lengths back in third.

Jeff Gillis of Everett trains and co-owns Bid Writer with Mac Nichol of Burlington, ON and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, ON. The Sportswriter daughter captured her July 25 Battle of the Belles Elimination and also has a Grassroots win and a third-place result in Gold Series action to her credit through four starts.

Not wanting to go against the trend, Chris Christoforou, Jr. put Sports Column on the lead from Post 1 in the Battle of Waterloo one race later, and the heavy favourite never faced a serious challenge as he posted fractions of :28.2, :57.3 and 1:26.4 on his way to a 1:55.4 victory. Happy Trio finished two lengths back in second and Aston Hill Dave was another length and three-quarters back in third.

Campbellville resident Christoforou engineered the win for trainer Blake MacIntosh of Cambridge, ON and his partners Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, PA and Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, QC. Like Bid Writer, Sports Column captured his Battle of Waterloo elimination and was a Gold Series winner on July 4. In both of the Sportswriter son's other starts he finished second by a neck, giving him a record of three wins and two seconds in five outings.

The two-year-old pacing fillies will be back in Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series action on August 12 at Mohawk Racetrack, while the pacing colts make their third Gold Series start at Mohawk on August 11.

Ontario Sires Stakes excitement returns to Grand River Raceway on Wednesday, Aug. 10 with the fourth Gold Series contest for the two-year-old trotting fillies.

Ontario Racing

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