Valedictory, Niagara series get underway
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Winter Series action finally got underway Thursday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park with first round action in the Valedictory and Niagara Series.
Each series featured two $17,000 divisions with three-year-old colt and gelding pacers dueling in the Valedictory and sophomore pacing fillies contesting the Niagara.
The Valedictory Series launched with Windsun Ricky rallying from sixth at the head of the lane to reach up and defeat Lyons Pegasus, who led from the second-quarter on, by half a length in 1:51.4. What Up Mo was third, while Conboyville was fourth.
Sent off as the even-money choice, Windsun Ricky was driven to victory by Sylvain Filion for trainer Murray Brethour. The gelded son of American Ideal now has five wins in 15 starts this season, with three of those victories coming in six starts since a break from the track in August and September.
Windsun Ricky is now five for 20 in his career and has banked $69,080 for owners Brethour, Windsun Farm and Noblock Racing Stable. He paid $4.10 to win.
No rallying was needed in the second division, as Virgin Storm went coast-to-coast on the lead to win in 1:52.4. James MacDonald guided the Nick Surick trainee to his fourth win in 25 starts this season.
Jknr Liketell rallied for second, beat a length. Dreamfair Charro was third, while Legion Seelster was fourth.
Unraced at age two, Virgin Storm entered Thursday’s race having not scored a victory since his fifth start of the season. The gelded son of Always A Virgin now displays totals of four wins, $57,555 earned and a mark of 1:52.4 for owner M Spacc Stables.
Virgin Storm paid $11.30 to win.
The Niagara Series started with Sunfire Blue Chip filly Dreamfair Zenfire scoring at odds of 4-1 for driver Travis Cullen and trainer Jodie Cullen.
Dreamfair Zenfire rushed up from third to claim the top at the half and went on to pace a :56.2 back-half to win by a length and a quarter in a career-best 1:53. Cranberry Brie took second, while Erikas Shadow and Mary Goodnight completed the Superfecta.
The most experienced competitor in the Niagara, Dreamfair Zenfire is now six for 37 on the season after going winless in four starts as a rookie. She is a homebred for John Lamers that has now earned $64,131 during her racing career.
Dreamfair Zenfire paid $11.40 to win.
Arya Stark closed out Thursday’s series action in exciting fashion, winning by a neck over Giggle Hanover in 1:53.4.
Driven by Chris Christoforou, Arya Stark angled out from fourth heading to three-quarters, collecting cover from a two-hole pulling Passport Hanover. Trip Aces Hanover, who led into the stretch, surrendered the lead late to Arya Stark, while Giggle Hanover charged up the rail late. Passport Hanover was fourth.
A daughter of Royal Mattjesty, Arya Stark picked up her fifth win 34 starts this season and sixth career win overall with the upset score. Melissa Lamoureux trains the sophomore and co-owns with Jeffrey Boyd and Jefferson Davis.
Arya Stark, who paid $23.80, now has career earnings of $68,537.
The Valedictory and Niagara Series were open to three-year-olds, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2019.
Each event will resume Thursday, Dec. 19, with second-round action. The series finals will be contested on Boxing Day (Dec. 26). (WEG)