Ontario's talented 3-year-old trotting fillies graced the Grand River Raceway oval on Wednesday evening and the balmy October weather resulted in another new track record being etched into the track's history books. Sugar Wheeler set a 1:56.1 mark for owners Alan Hainsworth, Paula Wellwood Enterprises, William Weaver III and Kelley Racing Stables.
Starting from post 4 in the second $40,000 Gold Elimination, driver Paul MacDonell fired Sugar Wheeler straight to the front with a :29 opening quarter. The fan favorites carried on unchallenged to a :59.2 half and a 1:28.1 three-quarters before sailing home to a three-length victory in a record setting 1:56.1.
Magic Lindy, owned by driver James MacDonald and trainer Johnathan McKinnon, finished second and One More Ginny, owned by KOR Stable Limited, finished third. Fourth-place finisher Lexus Helios also qualified for next Wednesday's $130,000 Gold Final.
The 1:56.1 clocking peeled three-fifths of a second off the former track record established by Ontario Sires Stakes competitor Friendly Amigo in September 2009.
Sugar Wheeler, a daughter of Angus Hall-Quick Credit, has earned $261,101, scoring six wins, eight seconds and three thirds.
In spite of her successful season Sugar Wheeler, who is the elder half-sister to this season's two-year-old trotting colt phenom Wheeling N Dealin, has not been able to come up with a win in a stakes final. She has been second in three Gold Final events and would love to change that statistic in next week's $130,000 skirmish, which will see her start from post 3.
The filly who bested Sugar Wheeler in all three of those Gold Finals captured the other Gold Elimination on Wednesday. Employing his usual tactics with the division leader, driver Rick Zeron allowed Miss Paris to float away from post 3 and settled her into fourth spot as Daylon Miracle led the field to a :29.1 opening quarter.
Miss Paris was still sitting fourth when Daylon Miracle reached the 1:00.1 half, but Zeron had the filly moving aggressively up the outside by the 1:29.2 three-quarters. The leaders battled around the final turn, but fan favorite Miss Paris kicked into overdrive in the stretch and got up for a three-quarter length win in 1:57.2.
Smarty Pants edged up the inside to be second, leaving Daylon Miracle to settle for third. Justasmalltowngirl was three and one-quarter lengths behind the winner in fourth and advanced to the Gold Final.
Richard "Nifty” Norman conditions the reigning Gold Final champion for Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL and David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL. Through 13 sophomore starts the daughter of Kadabra and $668,824 winner Pizza Dolce — a $210,000 purchase out of the 2010 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale — has tallied five wins, three seconds, three thirds and $330,767 in earnings.
Zeron and Miss Paris will make their bid for a fourth Gold Final title from Post 1 next Wednesday. The complete line up for the last Gold Final of the sophomore trotting fillies' careers is as follows:
$130,000 Gold Final — Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Grand River Raceway
Post 1 Miss Paris
Post 2 Lexus Helios
Post 3 Sugar Wheeler
Post 4 Daylon Miracle
Post 5 Magic Lindy
Post 6 Smarty Pants
Post 7 One More Ginny
Post 8 Justasmalltowngirl
Also Eligible 1 Lovely Vacation
(Ontario Sires Stakes)