Sweet Of My Heart rebounds in Ont. Gold
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April and May did not unfold quite the way Paul Reid had hoped, but the trainer is hoping Sweet Of My Heart's Gold Series victory at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening signals a change in fortune for his three-year-old trotting filly contingent.
Heading into Thursday's contest Reid trainees Sweet Of My Heart, Holiday Promise and Winter Sweet Frost had made a total of 11 starts and Holiday Promise was the only one with a top five result, finishing second in an overnight event in April. On Thursday, however, Sweet Of My Heart went gate-to-wire in the second $95,600 Gold division and Holiday Promise closed hard to earn the runner-up spoils, leaving Paradise Image to settle for third.
"I don't know, it just kind of took us a month to get things back on the right path," reflected Reid.
A Gold Series winner at two, Sweet Of My Heart was one of Reid's favorites before injury cut her freshman campaign short after five starts. This season the trainer was hoping the filly would pick up where she left off, but the Angus Hall daughter has been somewhat less than compliant.
"The Angus's, with most of them, once you can get them under control you've got a nice horse, but in between it can test your patience," said Reid ruefully, adding that he has recently changed his approach to the filly's training routine. "Kind of throwing my hands up a little bit saying, well we can't fight her you know, let's see if we can learn to rate that speed, rather than just trying to manhandle her and make her do what we wanted. She wasn't going to do that."
The change in tactics paid off Thursday as Sweet Of My Heart reeled off a personal best 1:55, hitting the wire four and one-quarter lengths ahead of her stablemate. Louis-Philippe Roy engineered the win for Reid and owner-breeder Robert Key of Leechburg, PA.
While Sweet Of My Heart competed in just five races last season, Holiday Promise made nine starts and capped off her freshman campaign with a third-place result in the Super Final. Like her stablemate, however, she had struggled to regain her form through her first few starts this season so Reid and owner-breeders Richard and Regina Beinhauer of Venetia, PA were relieved to see her finish strong on Thursday.
"She's another filly that just really was better last year than she'd shown early this year, and I was real happy with the way she come around tonight," said Reid of the Holiday Road daughter.
The only member of Reid's sophomore trotting filly trio that did not break out of her early season slump was Winter Sweet Frost — who threw a shoe going to the starting gate, made a break and finished seventh in the first Gold division — but the horseman is hoping better things are ahead for the reigning Super Final champion.
"We're still kind of getting kinks ironed out of her too," said Reid, who conditions the Kadabra daughter for Robert Key. "It's been a combination of little things. She didn't ship well from Florida — it kind of stressed her — and then in May she went to The Meadows for a bit and just kind of bounced around there. And just all that travel time with a filly that didn't have to do a lot of travelling last year, she just doesn't seem to handle that well."
Reid has until the second Gold Leg, which goes postward July 2 at Georgian Downs, to get Winter Sweet Frost back on track and ready to defend her division title.
The current favourite to claim the sophomore division crown is Magic Presto, who delivered her third straight victory over the Mohawk Racetrack oval in the first Gold division, sprinting home to a personal best 1:53.3 over Royal Witch and Gravitator.
With Trevor Henry in the race bike, Magic Presto landed in third from post 7 and Henry was content to watch Stuck In My Spanks lead the field to a :26.4 quarter and :56.3 half. Just past the half Henry sent the heavy favorite up the outside and by the 1:25.2 three-quarters she was pulling alongside Stuck In My Spanks. Without much urging from Henry, Magic Presto then cruised down the stretch to the three length victory.
"She's so easy to drive, you can place her wherever you want off the gate, so that makes her so nice," said Henry from the winner's circle. "She's just, she's awesome."
Henry crafted the win for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and owners Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL and Little E LLC of New York, NY.
Mohawk Racetrack fans will be treated to a second helping of three-year-old trotting fillies next Tuesday, June 13 as the Campbellville oval hosts the division's first Grassroots event. (Ontario Sires Stakes)