Trainer Mark Steacy sends a trio of freshman pacing fillies in Saturday's $251,347 Eternal Camnation Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Beach Bar, Tarryn A Strip and Abuelita Hanover race in the first, second and third divisions, respectively, and will look to make noise in Mohawk Park's first of several Grand Circuit events for 2-year-old pacing fillies.
"Usually I don't have that many pacing fillies," Steacy said. "I've had one or two colts or one colt, one filly but never a group of three. I actually have an Ontario bred that's not too bad, too, so we have four pretty nice pacing fillies."
Beach Bar starts the stakes evening for Steacy from post eight in the $84,116 first division of the Eternal Camnation. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere has started from that same post in her last two starts, with her most recent resulting in an off-the-pace fourth-place finish in the $37,000 Whenuwishuponastar.
"She's actually a handy little filly but she's been handicapped with the outside hole pretty much every start she's had so far including this week," Steacy said. "I'm not one to like to fire them in their first few races, too. I like to sit back and teach them how to come from behind, so I don't force my drivers to be too hard on them at the start of the race in their first three or four starts."
Driver Paul MacDonell, back in the bike for owners Robert and Shelly MacMillan and Fred Hertrich III, sent Beach Bar for a top spot in her second career start and finished second by a neck.
"She's got his nice little brush to her—she seems to try real hard at the end," Steacy said. "She's probably the handiest of the three right now—she's the smallest, but probably the handiest. And I think she's the gutsiest of the three right at the moment."
Tarryn A Strip starts from post three in the second division. She enters off a sixth-place finish in the Whenuwishuponastar final, which saw her suffer interference entering the backstretch from a halting leader.
"I think (the interference) hurt her a lot," Steacy said. "The horse (in front of her almost) made her come to a complete stop. We scoped her after and she did scope just a touch sick that day. So just (with) the combination of both, she just wasn't as good as she can be. She was quite good in her other starts and in her qualifiers so I expect a lot more from her this week."
Steacy noted that Tarryn A Strip seemed to clear up after being treat with antibiotics following her last start and trained well earlier this week.
"She trained (Wednesday) in 2:06 and she trained quite well; they all actually trained together yesterday and all three of them were very good. I think she's going into this race a lot healthier for sure."
Sylvain Filion, who drove the daughter of Captaintreacherous in her most recent start, sent Tarryn A Strip for the lead from the rail after the filly has raced her previous two starts from off the pace.
"She drew inside and Sylvain had sat behind her the week before, so he just thought she could get away a lot better," Steacy said. "And he did that but it didn't work to her benefit since that horse stopped dead in front of him."
Driver James MacDonald hops behind Tarryn A Strip for owners Glenview Livestock Ltd. and Cheryl Cherry.
Steacy's final starter, Abuelita Hanover, races from the rail with MacDonald driving. Steacy also owns the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere with partners Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. and Howard Pearce.
"I thought she was a nice-looking yearling when I bought her; good size," Steacy said. "I liked that (the broodmare) had a couple of Yankee Cruisers that sold for no money at all. I didn't know the horses, but they all turned out to be nice horses. So I was hoping that Somebeachsomewhere would step the mare up and that this girl would be much better.
"She broke really nice," Steacy also said. "She looked great on the trot (but) when I switched her to the pace she didn't respond very well—she crossfired, got on a shaft; she was really ill gaited for a while. But the farther she trained down, the better gaited she got and she had a lot more speed training down."
Abuelita Hanover avoided the interference in the Whenuwishuponastar. However, the filly veered wide and tracked cover from Key West to finish fourth in a dead heat with Beach Bar.
"She felt really good following," Steacy said. "She felt really strong going into the stretch. (MacDonald) may have pulled her a little earlier than he probably had to but only because she felt so good, he said. When he did pull her out she kind of hung a little bit."
Steacy said Abuelita Hanover scoped with minor sickness two starts back in the second preliminary for the Whenuwishuponastar and placed her on antibiotics following that start.
"I was just thinking that she maybe was just not quite cleared up," Steacy said of her performance in the Whenuwishuponastar. "When she qualified she was strong right through the wire and even in her first race she was strong through the wire. She was real strong training with the other two and was very powerful right through the wire. She drew a good post position so I'm hoping she steps up pretty good this week."
The three divisions of the Eternal Camnation go alongside three splits of the $276,651 Nassagaweya Stakes for rookie pacers and two $40,000 eliminations for the Maple Leaf Trot.
Post time for the 13-race card is set for 7:10 p.m. (WEG)