Bright Eyes M stars in Ontario Gold
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Fillies of both the pacing and trotting persuasion invaded Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday night for six Grassroots and two Gold Series divisions and sophomore trotting filly Bright Eyes M delivered a standout performance in the first $105,600 Gold contest, romping to a four length victory in 1:53.
Sent off as the heavy favourites, regular reinsman Stephen Byron and Bright Eyes M went straight to the front from Post 7 and reached the quarter pole in :27.1. Byron eased off the accelerator in the second quarter, reaching the half in :57.2, which allowed Royal Esteem to catch Bright Eyes M and lead the field to a 1:25 three-quarters. Royal Esteem’s lead was short lived however, as Bright Eyes M powered down the stretch to her third straight Gold Series victory. Royal Esteem was a comfortable second, one length ahead of Mercedes Talma.
“You get a little nervous when that happens, but I was always worried about her being on the front end because she can stop up on you. She’s getting a little more manageable all the time, but she’s certainly got her own mind,” said trainer John Bax of Royal Esteem rolling past the fan favourite.
“She’s got the desire, you can’t teach that,” the Campbellville resident continued. “She digs in and she says, ‘I’m taking this, get the heck out of my way’.”
In her seven sophomore starts Bright Eyes M has posted five wins and two seconds, banking $208,505 for owners Menhammar Stuteri AB of Paris, KY. Her next Gold Series start is on August 13 at Georgian Downs and Bax says the Kadabra filly will likely make one overnight start before then.
“I’ve got to decide what to do on that, but so far it’s been like every two weeks and that’s pretty nice,” said the trainer. “I think she could use it and I think it’s good for her mental state as much as her physical state. I’ll play it by ear, give her a week off and then see where we go from there.”
The other $105,600 Gold Series split saw Teddys Littleangel catch fan favourite Haveoneforme in the stretch to record her second straight Gold win.
Driver Doug McNair moved Teddys Littleangel smartly away from Post 6 and the filly led the field to a :28.2 quarter before yielding to the heavily favoured Haveoneforme. Haveoneforme marched on to a :57.4 half and 1:26.1 three-quarters and turned for home one and one-half lengths in front, but Teddys Littleangel had something in reserve and got a neck in front at the wire to claim the 1:54.4 victory. Haveoneforme settled for second and Angies Luckeylady closed hard for third.
“She was really good tonight, nice easy fractions and she kicked home when she had too,” said Ted MacDonnell, who trains Teddys Littleangel for owner-breeder Leonard Gamble of Etobicoke, ON.
Teddys Littleangel was also a narrow winner in the July 3 Gold Series event at Grand River Raceway and MacDonnell is relieved to see the winner of $266,893 getting back on track after a shaky start to the sophomore campaign.
“It’s just been a work in progress. Her blood kind of got out of kilter on me and just a few little things,” said Allenford, ON resident MacDonnell. “I think we’ve got her back now, she seems back to her hold self.”
Like Bax, MacDonnell will be looking for one start for the Archangel daughter before the August 13 Gold Series event.
Flanking the Gold Series divisions were six Grassroots splits for the two-year-old pacing fillies and fractional ownership venture TheStable.ca captured two of them with Capistrano and Wiggle Delight.
Capistrano made it back-to-back Grassroots victories with an impressive effort in the first $23,150 division. The Warrawee Needy daughter and driver Phil Hudon controlled the tempo from Post 1, rolling through fractions of :27.4, :57.2 and 1:25.1, but appeared to be bested in the stretch before clawing their way back to a head victory in 1:53.4. Challenger Landry Seelster settled for second and Look N Fabulous finished third.
“Capistrano clearly has no quit in her. From Day 1, being a smaller filly, everyone cheered for her in the barn,” said TheStable.ca founder and president Anthony MacDonald of Guelph. “Her popularity has only grown with the addition of Doug Gilmour to the ownership and her hard fought victory tonight.”
NHL Hall of Famer Gilmour joined TheStable Capistrano Group after the filly won her division of the July 9 Grassroots season opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park with a commanding effort from Post 9. Phil Hudon drove Capistrano for the first time in her debut and has clearly hit it off with the filly, who is trained for TheStable.ca by Harry Poulton of Milton, ON.
Wiggle Delight won the fifth division with a 1:54 effort over fan favourite Got Power and No Where To Hide. It was the Bettors Delight daughter’s first lifetime win after starting her career with a seventh-place result in the July 8 Gold Series opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Acton, ON resident Mario Baillargeon trains and drives Wiggle Delight for TheStable.ca clients Panic Stable LLC of Itasca, IL.
“Wiggle Delight found some class relief to her liking tonight,” noted MacDonald. “Mario and James (MacDonald) have always thought very highly of her and she certainly looked good tonight.”
The other Grassroots winners were Sportswriter fillies Coqui Coqui and Preeminence who both stopped the clock at 1:54.2, Sunshine Beach daughter Sunshine Hall in 1:55.1 and Shadow Play filly Scotians Shadow in 1:54.4. The two-year-old pacing fillies will make their third Grassroots start at Hanover Raceway on August 24.
Woodbine Mohawk Park fans will be treated to a second round of two-year-old pacing filly action on Friday, July 19 as the Campbellville oval hosts a pair of $106,400 Gold Series divisions. Friday’s program gets under way at 7:50 pm and the fillies will be featured in Races 3 and 8.