Day At The Track

Sugar' hoping to add Gold Final to her resume

01:28 AM 06 Oct 2012 NZDT
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Sugar Wheeler
Sugar Wheeler
Iron Horse Photo

When harness racing driver Paul MacDonell rolled in behind the Grand River Raceway starting gate for last week's Gold Elimination he was not expecting to rewrite the Ontario Sires Stakes record book, but as soon as the wings folded he knew Sugar Wheeler was going to deliver a big mile.

“When you are going into a race you never think about time or records,” says the Guelph resident. “But as soon as she left the gate I knew she was sharp.”

Leading the field of three-year-old trotting fillies from start to finish, MacDonell and Sugar Wheeler hit the wire in a track, Ontario Sires Stakes and Canadian record 1:56.1 to claim the second Gold Elimination trophy in what has been a very consistent season. The pair returns to Grand River Raceway on Wednesday, Oct. 10 for the last Gold Final of the sophomore trotting filly season and will take aim on a second victory from Post 3 in the eight filly field.

“She’s obviously going to have position on quite a few of them,” notes MacDonell.

“She’s the kind of horse that’s made for the half-mile track,” he adds. “She’s real handy and quick off the gate. That’s kind of her best asset, her handiness.”

MacDonell has piloted the daughter of Angus Hall and $553,113 winner Quick Credit to six wins, eight seconds and three thirds in 22 starts this season, banking $261,101 for owners P C Wellwood Enterprises Inc. of Cambridge, Alan Hainsworth of Mt. Morris, NY, William B. Weaver III of Freehold, NJ, and Kelley Racing Stable LLC of Gansevoort, NY. Cambridge resident Mike Keeling conditions the consistent youngster, who is a half-sister to undefeated two-year-old trotting colt star Wheeling N Dealin.

A $55,000 purchase out of the 2010 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, Sugar Wheeler did not impress Keeling when she arrived in his barn last season. Fortunately, chiropractic care helped the filly achieve a balanced gait and she was ready to qualify in late 2011, making two starts in December, one of them a 2:08.1 victory at Western Fair Raceway.

From January to the start of the provincial stakes season in late June, Sugar Wheeler made 12 starts, finding the winner’s circle four times. The filly has competed in every Gold Series event and has only missed the top three on one occasion, finishing fifth in the Aug. 30 Gold Final at Mohawk Racetrack. She currently sits second, 57 points behind division leader Miss Paris, in the sophomore trotting filly standings and is assured of a berth in the season ending Super Final.

“She’s been one-two-three pretty much all year,” notes MacDonell. “I’d say she’s going to be competitive (in the Super Final) if she keeps this form.”

Before he concerns himself with the Nov. 10 Super Final however, MacDonell will be focused on Wednesday’s $130,000 Gold Final. Division point leader and reigning Gold Final champion Miss Paris will benefit from Post 1 in the tenth race, while former Gold Final winner Lexus Helios gets Post 2 and early speedster Daylon Miracle will be leaving from Post 4.

“Hopefully she’s as good as she was last week and we can capitalize,” says MacDonell of Sugar Wheeler’s Post 3 draw.

Grand River Raceway will send its first race into the starter’s hands at 7:05 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 10, with the three-year-old trotting fillies squaring off for their Gold Final battle in Race 10.

by Sandra SNYDER

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