Grant enjoying time with Ramona Hill
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Brad Grant watched Ramona Hill’s Hambletonian win at the Meadowlands in August from his home in Canada because of covid-19 international travel restrictions. But now Grant, one of Ramona Hill’s six owners, is getting to spend some quality time with the filly in his own backyard at Ontario’s Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Last week, Ramona Hill won a division of the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters at Mohawk for her fifth victory in six races this season. It was her first Canadian start since winning a Breeders Crown at Mohawk in October.
On Saturday, she returns to the Ontario oval for the $350,000 Elegantimage, where her nine rivals include Hambletonian Oaks winner Sorella. Andy McCarthy will drive Ramona Hill for trainer Tony Alagna.
“I’m excited,” Grant said, adding with a laugh, “I was beginning to think my partners were hoarding her to the south. At least up here I get her all to myself. We’re enjoying getting to spend some time with her.”
Grant shares ownership of Ramona Hill with U.S.-based partners Michelle and Al Crawford, Robert LeBlanc, John Fodera, and Steve Wienick. Grant, who was among the owners of 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta, watched this year’s race on television with his wife Bonnie while the remainder of the group was at the Meadowlands.
“It’s not the same, but thankfully I had that experience a couple years earlier, so I know what it’s like,” Grant said. “I had the second-best seat in the house (this year) and I could rewind the race and watch it as much as I wanted.
“Bonnie and I were just tickled to watch it on TV and see everybody. It’s a great group. We’re all just enjoying it. Tony has done a great job and Andy gets along with this filly amazing. Being up here, Tony’s mom (Donna Lee, who runs the stable in Canada) has pampered Ramona to death looking after her. We couldn’t have it any better.”
Ramona Hill, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Lock Down Lindy, has won 11 of 13 career races and $1.17 million. She became the 15th filly to beat the boys in the Hambletonian, which she accomplished in a stake-record-equaling 1:50.1.
In addition to the Hambletonian and Simcoe, her wins this season include the Del Miller Memorial and the filly division of the Harry M. Zweig Memorial. She is the No. 1-ranked horse in the sport’s current Top 10 poll.
“There are a number of colts and fillies that could be No. 1 this year,” Grant said. “I think if you have a bad week, you could move off where you are and get bumped down the line in a hurry. So, to be on the top of that list, in my mind, is quite an accomplishment.”
Ramona Hill will look to remain on top with a win in the Elegantimage, but Grant knows it won’t be easy. The Nancy Takter-trained Sorella, the No. 8-ranked horse in harness racing, has won six of eight starts this season and heads to the race off a win over older male rivals, including returning O’Brien Award winner Musical Rhythm.
“She is a great filly,” Grant said. “I think it’s going to be a heck of a race. There are some others in there, but obviously, a quick glance says the one to beat is Sorella. Hopefully, we can come back with another good race and get it done.”
Grant owns a second horse in the Elegantimage, Warrawee Vicky, who won last week’s other Simcoe Stakes division. She has won three of six races this year and eight of 16 lifetime, earning $243,151. She is trained by Scott McEneny.
“She raced well last week so we decided to put her in,” Grant said. “We’re racing for fourth or fifth money, but the filly has raced really well for me this year and we’re pleased with her. Scott has worked hard to get her there, so we thought we should put her in and see how she does.”
Saturday’s card at Mohawk also includes the $560,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old male trotters, headlined by Goodtimes and Zweig Memorial winner Ready For Moni, as well as eliminations for the Milton (pacing mares), Metro Pace (2-year-old male pacers) and She’s A Great Lady (2-year-old filly pacers).
Grant is among the owners of Alagna trainees Notorious Pink in the She’s A Great Lady’s first elimination and Pirate Hanover in the Metro’s first elimination.
Notorious Pink swept the Whenuwishuponastar at Mohawk earlier this year before competing in the Kentucky Sires Stakes. She has four wins and a second in six starts. Pirate Hanover has a win and a third in three races.
“She’s a really nice filly,” Grant said about Notorious Pink. “I got in on her just as she started racing. She’s green but she was pretty good up here before so we thought we would give her a shot. She does seem to like the track up here and (driver) Bobby McClure was her pilot up here before and got along with her really well.
“I think Pirate Hanover is a sleeper. He made a break (in a division of the Nassagaweya) but I think he might have clipped the wheel of the horse in front of him. The colt has got a lot of speed and I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom of his tank yet. I’m real excited about that colt. I think he has a ton of upside and I think he’s just going to get better as he races.” (Ken Weingartner/USTA)