Sports Column wins Battle Of Waterloo at Grand River Raceway; Record event handle
ELORA, ON — Grand River Raceway staged its 26th annual Industry Day celebration on the afternoon of August 1. The fan-favourite event saw a record handle of $481,230 wagered on the 11-race card, an increase of 54 percent over the record set in 2015. A crowd of approximately 4,000 people on-track wagered $87,890.
19th annual Battle Of Waterloo
Sports Column granted trainer Blake MacIntosh and driver Chris Christoforou their first Battle Of Waterloo victories.
The Sportswriter colt put in a commanding front-end effort to take the $159,500 dash for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing colts and geldings in 1:55.4. The win was Sports Column’s third win from five starts and boosted his bankroll to $169,500 for MacIntosh who co-owns the pacer with Hutt Racing Stable and Daniel Plouffe.
Happy Trio with Sylvain Filion finished three lengths back in second and Aston Hill Dave was third with Doug McNair.
8th annual Battle Of The Belles
James MacDonald captured his second Battle Of The Belles title when he held on to win by a head in a thriller over betting favourite Aint Three OK with Trevor Henry.
The Sportswriter filly granted trainer Jeff Gillis his first win in the race. He shares ownership of the pacer with Mac Nichol and Gerald Stay. Bid Writer is a winner in three of her four rookie starts for $76,300.
Ontario Sires Stakes
Divas Image captured her first Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold trophy with a strong gate-to-wire performance in the first $105,000 division to begin the stakes action in Race 2 on Industry Day.
New Jersey reinsman Joe Bongiorno was in town for his Grand River Raceway driving debut aboard the Bettors Delight filly for trainer Richard Johnson and New York owners Our Horse Cents Stables, Jt45 LLC, and J And T Silva Stables LLC.
Divas Image remained strong on the lead down the stretch holding off Party In Rome by three-quarters of a length in a career-best clocking of 1:53.3. Party In Rome settled for second while Killean Finale (Jason Ryan) finished third.
“I haven’t been here before, but I definitely enjoyed the short trip that I was here for,” said the 22-year-old reinsman. “The track seems nice to me and I was just very happy with the way the filly raced.”
L A Delight dominated in the second OSS Gold division of the day with a track record-equaling performance of 1:53.1 for three-year-old filly pacers. With L A Delight beginning to get away on the field, Mayhem Seelster (Sylvain Filion) fanned wide off the fading cover and came on for second. Last year’s Battle of the Belles champion, Free Show (Jody Jamieson), finish third. This was L A Delight’s seventh straight OSS Gold triumph.
“She’s the grandmother that baked you cookies and told you when you got a D it’s really not that bad. She’s just a real sweetheart of a horse,” said Waples.
Racing Under Saddle
Trotters under saddle were in action on Industry Day competing in an $11,000 Racing Under Saddle (RUS) Handicap. A newcomer to racing under saddle this year, Gracies Harmony pulled off a 40-1 upset as she romped to a six-length victory.
With regular RUS rider Marielle Enberg aboard for owner/trainer James Tropea of Mono, ON, Gracies Harmony got out to a quick early lead from post two and carved out fractions of :31, 1:02 and 1:33.4 enroute to the 2:04.2 triumph.
Muscle Matters (Sarah Town) who was victorious under saddle on July 16 at Georgian Downs, moved into second-place approaching the half and followed hot on Gracies Harmony’s heels before the leader took off around the final turn. Muscle Matters stayed for second while Osprey Vision (Amber Lawson Brand) finished third in his RUS debut. Gracies Harmony returned a whopping $84.60 for a $2 win ticket. The nine-year-old Hard Rock N Roll mare is a career winner of 29 races and $134,015 in purses.
Bill McDonnell Memorial Race
After a mid-afternoon rain shower, the $12,500 Bill McDonnell Memorial Invitation Pace was held to honour the memory of the former member of the Grand River Agricultural Society board and director of the Ontario Racing Commission who passed away last September at the age of 79.
“It’s very emotional,” said Marlene McDonnell, who was on hand for the Industry Day celebrations and the race named after her late husband. “But I know that this would be the biggest honour; there just isn’t any greater. He would be so pleased.”
The race was won by the front-end strider Saulsbrook Peach and driver Robert Shepherd. Leading front start to finish, the seven-year-old Royal Mattjesty gelding set fractions of :27.3, :57 and 1:25.2 before stopping the clock in 1:54.1. Lets Wait And See (Nick Steward) tipped out near the third quarter mark and came on to finish second. Rise Up Now (Sylvain Filion), the 6-5 favourite, followed in third off a pocket trip.
Five races prior to his Battle Of The Belles win, driver James MacDonald was unseated from his throne as the winner of five consecutive editions of the Industry Day Bouncy Pony Stakes. Agreeing to level the playing field, MacDonald raced the 30 metre dash with two eyepatches. Despite being unable to see the racecourse, MacDonald still hung on to be nipped at the finish by newcomer Tyler Jones, with Bob McClure and J Harris close behind.
The Best In Show competition sponsored by the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) awarded $1,500 to the caretakers of horses racing on the Industry Day card. Fifteen prizes of $100 were presented to the top five in each of the following categories:
Best Of Show Head-To-Toe; Horse & Groom; Above & Beyond (braids, sparkles, etc.). The winners were: Bailey Wright, John Archer, Alyshia Williamson, Bernard Lavigne, Natasha Day, Dillyn Jackson, Rick Welsh, Jessica Breese, Tiffany Stein, Emily Auger, Leslie Harris, Steph Horner, Tracy Roberts, Katie Miller, Nicole Pedden, and Vicki Paulic.
A garage sale offering assorted horse and horse-racing memorabilia and collectibles raised more than $1,041 for the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society.
Photos and videos from Industry Day: