Day At The Track

Filly celebrates Gold win with... watermelon

12:24 PM 13 Jul 2020 NZST
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INNISFIL, ON -  JULY 12, 2020 - Mark Etsell's two-year-old trotting fillies opened their Ontario Sires Stakes harness racing careers on a positive note Sunday night at Georgian Downs with Midnight Miracle scoring a win in her $72,267 Gold Series division and Meadowview Lilly finishing third.

Midnight Miracle got a picture-perfect second-over trip from driver Bob McClure in the evening's first Gold Series battle. Starting from Post 2 McClure settled the Muscle Mass daughter in fourth and watched Tealicious ring up a :26 quarter and :58.2 half. Heading for the 1:29.1 three-quarters McClure tipped Midnight Miracle out behind Dashing Muscle, who was soon matching strides with the tiring pacesetter. When McClure asked for another gear in the stretch, Midnight Miracle powered by her peers and on to a one and one-quarter length victory in 1:58.4.

"I told Bobby to float her out of there and try to get away, top three I said, but he got four so that's okay. I said, 'Once she sees daylight she can kind of trot, but as soon as she doesn't see them she'll let up on you, so just be aware of that'. You time it kind of right, because she's green and she doesn't know any different. She knows enough to go by and then that's it and then she'll let up," said Rockwood, ON resident Etsell. "First lifetime start so we were pretty happy with her, at least I was anyways, I don't know about anybody else, but I was."

Named Midnight Miracle due to a difficult birth, the filly has grown into a good-gaited, sensible filly who might just be a little spoiled by Etsell and his partners Robert Newton of Walkerton and Chuan Tan of Cambridge, ON.

"She loves watermelon; she had a watermelon after she raced tonight and got out of the test barn. She loves watermelon and raspberries for some reason, I don't know why," said Etsell. "Bob Newton, when he comes down he brings her raspberries or something, stops at one of the grocery stores along the way."

Two races later Meadowview Lilly delivered a third-place finish behind fan favourite Fox Valley Liza and Blackout Riley, a result that delighted Etsell and Charlie Reid, whose Meadowview Farms Inc. of Orono, ON, bred and owns the Archangel daughter.

"She was good early, good gaited and everything, but didn't have no attitude to go, but when we hit around 2:20 she started coming to life and we thought, you know maybe we've got a couple," said Etsell, who also drove Meadowview Lilly on Sunday. "We were happy with both them fillies. Both homebreds, I raced both their mothers."

Sent off as the heavy favourite in the second $72,267 division, Fox Valley Liza and driver Sylvain Filion wasted no time assuring bettors they had made the correct choice. Starting from Post 6 the pair carved out all the fractions on their way to a three length victory in 1:59.2.

"She's just come to me 10 days ago. She's exactly everything that Erv Miller told me - she's very professional, a very nice filly to be around and she won pretty handy," said trainer Ben Baillargeon, who received the Muscle Mass daughter from US-based trainer Ervin Miller after she finished second in a two-year-old filly event at Pocono Downs on June 30. "She knows her business and Erv said she's been professional from Day 1. She's like a four-year-old horse, like a very nice mare."

Anthony Lombardi of Morris, IL, Henshaut Stable of Montgomery, IN and George Golemes of Oak Brook, IL share ownership of Fox Valley Liza, who Baillargeon expects will remain in the province for the duration of the Ontario Sires Stakes season.

The last division went to Classy Carol who sprinted from sixth to first in the stretch, sneaking up the inside past pacesetting favourite Warrawee Welcome to claim the 2:01.1 victory. Flanagan Destiny and All R Wishes finished just over one length back in second and third.

"She's my daughter Robyn's favourite horse. She's spoiled and she's good natured, good to be around, and turns out she wants to win, so that's even better," said trainer John Bax. "She wants to go ahead, and you can't teach that, they've either got it or they don't, so it's nice."

The Bax Stable of Campbellville, Robert Van Camp of Port Perry, ON, Dave Hudson of Dallas, TX and Gordon Wright of Charlotte, MI share ownership of Classy Carol, who was a $40,000 purchase from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. Bax trained both the Royalty For Life daughter's dam Very Classy and her grand-dam Ruling Class.

Like Etsell, Bax had multiple fillies competing on Sunday and was pleased with the results of all three. IN addition to Classy Carol's win, Kadabra daughter Up And Ready finished third to Midnight Miracle and Royalty For Life miss Lifeintheslammer was fifth behind Fox Valley Liza.

"We were pretty happy with them," said the Campbellville, ON resident. "They all did it right. Some have got to do it a little faster, but they all took positive steps ahead, that's for sure."

The two-year-old trotting fillies will make their second Gold Series start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 31.

Complete results from Sunday's program are available at Georgian Downs Results.

Next up on Georgian Downs' Ontario Sires Stakes schedule is the second Gold Series Leg for two-year-old pacing fillies on Sunday, July 19.

From the Ontario Sire Stakes

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