3PF Neon Moon sets Grand River track mark
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Ontario’s talented three-year-old pacing fillies were part of Grand River Raceway’s annual Industry Day celebrations on Monday and Neon Moon set the tone for the afternoon’s festivities with a track record effort in the first $18,800 Grassroots division.
From Post 5 driver Jody Jamieson sent Neon Moon straight to the lead and the fan favourite reeled off fractions of :26.4, 55.4 and 1:24.1 before opening up to a five length victory in 1:52.4. Hello Love and Askmysecretary finished second and third. The mile took two-fifths of a second off the former sophomore pacing filly track record, first set by Seaside Rory in 2012 and equalled by L A Delight in 2016.
"She was really sharp going into the race, but you just, on a half-mile track you just kind of hold your breath a bit," said trainer Jack Darling, who also owns the daughter of Sportswriter.
Monday’s victory was Neon Moon’s second straight, but her first in Ontario Sires Stakes action this season. In her first two Grassroots starts she finished third. A four-time Grassroots winner at two, Neon Moon may have earned herself a shot at the Gold Series fillies with the track record performance.
"She’s been racing Grassroots, but she’s just kind of borderline Gold, so we might give her a shot," noted Cambridge, Ontario resident Darling.
In the second division fan favourite Katniss S BG overcame the outside Post 8 to earn her second straight Grassroots victory. In rein to Louis Philippe Roy, Katniss S BG left sharply and was able to settle in behind the fans’ second choice Falls Creek as she rolled through fractions of :27.2, 58.2 and 1:27.1. In the stretch Roy asked the Mach Three daughter for another gear and Katniss S BG sprinted by the pacesetter to record a half-length victory in 1:55.4. Falls Creek settled for second and Princess Abie W was third.
"I wanted to leave, not to be too far away with her, and then I see Robert was on the lead. I thought he was going to try and have my cover and follow me, but I knew he was also the second best, like the one to beat, so I was even more happy just to get in behind him, following him," said Roy. "So Post 8 before the race was a little bit of a concern, but it ended up having the perfect trip.
"I thought maybe he could have stretched me a little bit then sit behind me, and he might have a shot at beating me, but the way it turned out was perfect for me," the driver added.
Roy piloted Katniss S BG to the win for trainer Richard Moreau and owner-breeders Sylvain Descheneaux and Gaston Bibeau of Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. It was the filly’s third straight victory and her fourth in 10 starts this season.
Lifelong Dream earned her first-ever Grassroots victory in the third division with a come-from-behind effort from Post 5. After leading the charge on pacesetter Cardiff in the outer lane, Lifelong Dream dug in down the stretch to score a head victory in 1:54.1. Machnhope was second and Sharks Summrshandy was third.
Dean Nixon trains Lifelong Dream for owner-breeder Greg Merlo of Glencoe, Ontario and the horseman was delighted to see the filly record her first Grassroots win after a pair of runner-up finishes.
"She’s kind like of a little dream come true for him. He’s always just had his own horses that have raced on the B tracks and this is the first time he’s had a horse that was capable of racing in stakes competition," Nixon explained. "When we first got her, she’s very small and I didn’t think much of her. I wasn’t overly optimistic and she’s just been a pleasant surprise.
"We give her time between starts, we don’t over race her, and he doesn’t mind that, he wants what is in her best interests all the time," the horseman continued. "I’m really happy that these people have been so fortunate, that this little horse has produced so well. It’s a little dream come true for them and it’s nice to be a part of that."
Bob McClure piloted Lifelong Dream to the win, the filly’s second in 13 sophomore starts.
In the last Grassroots division driver Trevor Henry copied McClure’s come-from-behind tactics with Cabowabocuttie, easing away from Post 7, powering up the outer lane and battling hard in the stretch for a one-half length victory in 1:56.2. Pacesetter and fan favourite Sunday Afternoon settled for second and I Shadow U was third.
"When I seen we had the seven-hole I thought oh dear, but she overcome it," said owner Bill Manes of Rockwood, Ontario. "She tries; small but mighty."
Gerald Lilley conditions Big Jim daughter Cabowabocuttie, who started her season at the Gold Series level, logging one third and one ninth. Monday’s victory was her second straight, and her third on the season.
The fillies served as the opening act for the $163,840 Battle of the Belles and the $262,315 Battle of Waterloo finals. Quebec Blue Chip delivered a commanding front-end effort to capture the two-year-old pacing filly event, stopping the teletimer at 1:55.1 for driver Jody Jamieson, trainer Dave Menary and owners Menary Racing Inc. of Rockton, Michael Guerriero of Brampton, Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown and Bruce Norris of Caledon East, Ontario. The filly’s stablemate Ideation Hanover was second and Village Joules was third.
Two-year-old pacing colt Bronx Seelster captured the Battle of Waterloo with a gritty effort that saw him fight back in the stretch when rival Bettors Wish got a head in front. The fan favourite hit the wire a neck in front of Bettors Wish in 1:53.1 with Sports Teen third. Arthur, Ontario resident Trevor Henry piloted the Big Jim son to his fourth straight win for trainer Wayne McGean and owners Capers 3 Stable of Sydney, Nova Scotia.