Favorites come up short in ONSS 3FP divisions
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Upsets were the order of the day at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday as both favorites in the 3-year-old pacing filly Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series divisions went down to defeat.
In the first $78,736 split driver Trevor Henry sent Sex Appeal straight to the front from post five and reeled off fractions of :26.2, :55.2 and 1:23.1 as favorite Laura’s Love sat fourth. In the stretch pocket-sitter Beach Sports mounted a spirited challenge, but Sex Appeal prevailed for a three-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:50.2. Laura’s Love closed to be third, but was still two lengths behind the dueling leaders.
“She gets better every week. I don’t how far she’ll go, but every week she seems to get better and better,” said Henry of the winner. “She has turned into a nice filly that loves her work.”
The win was the second straight in Gold Series action for Sex Appeal and her third straight in a five race sophomore campaign that has only seen her bested once, when she finished second. The homebred daughter of Bettor's Delight and Lasting Appeal is trained by Bob McIntosh for his co-owner Al McIntosh Holdings Inc.
At two, Sex Appeal competed in the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots program without cracking the top three. She improved late in the season, winning two legs of the Harvest Series, and Henry says she grew and matured significantly over the winter.
“She just seems to have grown up, she got a lot stronger than she was as a 2-year-old and she just really got to like to race,” he said. “She likes to leave on out of there, but I think at any point if somebody comes you’ll be able to let them go, she’s pretty sensible when it comes to that.”
In the $79,328 second division fans sent reigning division champion Alicorn off as their top choice, but it was fourth choice Rose Run Victoria who had the biggest gear in the stretch.
Second choice Betalady stepped off all the fractions, leading the field to a :26.3 quarter, :55.4 half and 1:23.2 three-quarters, with Karma Seelster on her heels and Alicorn leading the charge up the outer lane. Rose Run Victoria followed Alicorn up the outer lane and when driver Robert Shepherd asked her for another gear she out-sprinted her peers to claim a one length victory in a personal best 1:51.2. Karma Seelster slipped out of the pocket to be second and Betalady hung on for third, with Alicorn settling for fourth.
Rick Phillips and Mark Harder own Rose Run Victoria. Harder taught the daughter of He’s Watching and Victoria Gallery her early lessons, giving her two starts in the fall of her 2-year-old season and two starts at The Meadowlands in June before sending her up to Rod Boyd for the Ontario Sires Stakes season.
“I got her three weeks ago I guess. Mark was real high on her at two and he took his time and brought her back at three, and he thought he had a Gold filly there, but you never know,” said Boyd. “She’s a big powerful horse, I like her. She’s a nice filly, obviously.”
Rose Run Victoria finished third in the Gold Series opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 29, three-quarters of a length behind Alicorn, after recovering from a brief miscue in the first turn. In a July 10 overnight she finished second by three-quarters of a length to Beach Sports after losing focus on the front end, so Boyd was pleased to see her put everything together on Friday.
“On the racetrack she’s fine, but in the barn she’s a little bit high strung, especially around men. Katie McNeil is the only one that really gets along with her. I don’t know if it’s because I train her or sit behind her every day, but she doesn’t like me a whole lot,” said Boyd. “Other than that she’s pretty easy though. Mark had her just perfect coming up. I’ve worked for him for years and he sends them when they’re ready, and she was definitely ready.”
Sex Appeal and Rose Run Victoria will have an opportunity to burnish their Gold Series resumes when the 3-year-old pacing fillies make their third start of the season on Aug. 3 at Grand River Raceway. (ONSS)