Day At The Track

$600,000 2YO BC filly trot super competitive

07:14 AM 22 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Ms Savannah Belle, harness racing Sister Sledge, harness racing
Ms Savannah Belle and driver Yannick Gingras
New Image Media photo
Sister Sledge and driver Yannick Gringras
New Image Media photo

In discussing his horse, Sister Sledge, trainer Ron Burke gave a simple but accurate assessment of Friday's $600,000 Breeders Crown 2-year-old filly harness racing trot final at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

"Moving forward, I think she's as good as any filly out there, but there are a couple real good ones," Burke said. "The 2-year-old trotting fillies are very solid - a bunch of them actually."

This past Friday, Yannick Gingras showed just how deep the field is by driving horses to victory over undefeated opponents in both elimination races.

Gingras guided Sister Sledge past previously perfect Hypnotic AM, a 1-5 favorite, in the first elim. He followed by driving Ms Savannah Belle to victory and keeping Ramona Hill out of the winner's circle for the first time. Hypnotic AM was second while Ramona Hill finished third.

Gingras will drive Sister Sledge, a daughter of Father Patrick-Behindclosedoors, in the final. The horse, who drew the two-post, has eight wins and has hit the board in all 10 starts this year, winning C$308,852. She will go off right next to Hypnotic AM, who drew post one. A repeat of their exciting elimination battle would be interesting, as Gingras went outside in the homestretch to pass the favorite and win by 1-1/4 lengths.

"When I got alongside of her I could tell I had more trot," Gingras said. "It was just a matter of getting to the wire. But I was definitely confident, throughout really. She's a nice filly. The other one is nice too, but I had all the confidence in the world in my filly. With the trip, I thought she would give her a really good run anyway."

It was the first setback in eight starts for Hypnotic AM, who has won C$394,582 this season with Brian Sears in the sulky.

"She raced good (in the elim)," trainer Marcus Melander said. "She got a little fresh on the lead and Brian had to hold her a little too much. Maybe we need to do some changes for this week, but I think she raced good. You always want to win so you know you're going to draw (post) one to five. She just got a little too fresh on the lead. It was just too much."

Hypnotic AM had last raced Sept. 14 in winning the New York Sire Stakes championship. The Chapter Seven-Daydream AM S miss qualified in 1:54.2 in advance of her Crown elimination.

"She was very good in her qualifier and I thought she was going to be ready," Melander said. "Maybe this will put her a little bit forward. I still think we have a great filly even if she got beat, and (Sister Sledge) is a good horse. I really like my horse and think she will have a big chance in the final. She gets over the ground so easy. She can do anything; race on any sized track, she's got speed, she's got stamina. She's got everything that a good horse has got to have."

In the second elim, not winning proved costly for Ramona Hill, who drew post 10 in the final. Driven by Andy McCarthy, the Muscle Hill-Lock Down Lindy freshman lost for the first time in six starts.

"I didn't think she was tracking as good as she has been, so we're going to make a couple of adjustments for the final, but she went a monster trip after Andy got her settled," said trainer Tony Alagna, whose filly has earned C$106,300 this year. "He tried to press out of there a little bit with her, but she wasn't as comfortable, so he just waited on her. She was parked the entire mile first over, so she went a huge mile just to be third.

"We'll regroup, but we're very pleased with her. She's a filly we were very high on, but she was very immature and we didn't even know if we'd make it to the Breeders Crown with her at one stage. To be here, and to be in the final, speaks volumes to her quality. She just needed some time. As the year's gotten longer, she's gotten better. We gave her a nice break after the Kindergarten (leg on July 19) and that really seemed to help her. All those things helped her for sure."

Winning for the fourth time in eight starts allowed Ms Savannah Belle to earn a post five Friday, setting up what could be a fierce final. As he did with Sister Sledge, Gingras rallied his horse down the homestretch. The filly has hit the board in seven races and won C$216,658 this year.

"She was super down in Lexington; we only raced her the first week there, we skipped the second week just to aim her for this and I think she'll be even sharper (in the final)," trainer Per Engblom said of the daughter of Muscle Hill-Stubborn Belle. "I think my filly will do good. She hadn't raced in three weeks; she'll be a little sharper next week.

"She's a darling. She's good every time. She had a couple (1:52 miles) in a row. I worried she might be a little short, but Yannick worked out the perfect trip for her, so it was no problem."

Engblom has two horses in the final, as Shishito (Father Patrick-Yoga) will go off from the eight hole.

"She was third in the first elimination and I think she'll step up and be a little better this week too," the trainer said. "She was very good. She was leaning in the turn a little bit so (driver Dexter Dunn) lost a little ground in the last turn, but then she finished really good in the stretch. We'll try to change her bridle up a little bit to keep her a little straighter. She's such an honest little filly, I just love her. She's nice."

Rounding out the final are May Baby (post three), Dip Me Hanover (four), Wine Rack Hanover (six), Madame Sherry (seven) and Violet Stride (nine).

Trainer Nifty Norman feels Wine Rack Hanover may be calming down at just the right time.

"She's got a big motor, she's just had trouble with her manners all year," Norman said of the Kadabra-Winbak Maya miss. "But she's getting better and better all the time. She was really tough to hang on to; she was really hot. She's starting to work it out. She's got a great attitude. She never gives in. I'm pretty happy with her."

Trainer Jim Campbell felt Madame Sherry, a daughter of Father Patrick-Celebrity Angel, "raced OK" in her elimination but echoed most everyone's thoughts about the final.

"It's a tough group," Campbell said. "It's a real tough group. She's going to have to step her game up to be better for next week to get money in there, but she's got a chance to go for it, which is better than not being in it."

Below is the field for the Breeders Crown 2-year-old filly trot final.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer
1-Hypnotic AM-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander
2-Sister Sledge-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke
3-May Baby-James Yoder-James Yoder
4-Dip Me Hanover-David Miller-Linda Toscano
5-Ms Savannah Belle-TBA-Per Engblom
6-Wine Rack Hanover-Sylvain Filion-R. Nifty Norman
7-Madame Sherry-Tim Tetrick-Jim Campbell
8-Shishito-Dexter Dunn-Per Engblom
9-Violet Stride-Tyler Buter-Mark Harder
10-Ramona Hill-Andy McCarthy-Tony Alagna

By Rich Fisher, for the Breeders Crown

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