ELORA, ON — Grand River Raceway marked its 29th annual Industry Day celebration on August 5. The afternoon featured 11 races totaling $540,850 in purses, including the track’s feature dashes, the Battle Of Waterloo and Battle Of The Belles.
It was a homecoming of sorts for two families who have previously dominated these jewel races in the Elora, ON track’s marquee event.
22nd annual Battle Of Waterloo
Nine rookie two-year-old pacing colts vied for glory in the 22nd edition of the $239,000 Battle Of Waterloo.
Trainer Carl Jamieson and his son, driver Jody Jamieson, teamed up to win with Sports Obsession, their 7-1 starter from post five.
Jamieson maneuvered traffic trouble past the halfway marker when Bettorbuckleup and Beach Blanket Book hooked wheels and were taken out of contention.
Soon after, the winning pair cleared to the lead and remained on top to clinch the win. The 1:54 score was the Sportswriter son’s second career win in five starts. Betting favourite Wind Blown with J Harris was second for trainer Teesha Symes. Aneto with Bob McClure rounded out the top three.
Carl Jamieson co-owns Sports Obsession with George Harrison. “I told everyone that the horse had a good shot. We just needed a little luck,” said Jamieson.
Carl Jamieson trained and drove the first-ever Battle Of Waterloo winner Distinctiv Skeeter in 1998. He also piloted and trained CT Rocket in 2000 and went on to win three more editions with son Jody in the bike in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Neither has won the race since.
“Dad and I did it again,” Jody Jamieson beamed. “I think it was a special omen today, us teaming up again in the Battle of Waterloo after those victories in the past.”
11th annual Battle Of The Belles
A field of talented two-year-old pacing fillies contested the 11th edition of the $157,500 Battle Of The Belles.
Doug McNair and Karma Seelster capitalized on early action to capture the win at 27-1 in 1:54.4, which matches the stake record set by Play The Bell in 2017. Karma Seelster scored her maiden win in her elimination division last week but drew the outside starting post (#8) in the final.
She took to the top as heavy-favourite Alicorn (post four) and Louis Philippe Roy made a break at the first quarter. Alicorn matched the divisional track record in her elimination win last week in 1:54.2. She also holds an OSS speed record earned earlier this year.
After her miscue, Roy quickly regrouped Alicorn and she came on strong to finish second for trainer Chantal Mitchell. Temagami Seelster and J Harris were third.
This was the second Battle Of The Belles title for the father-son duo of driver Doug McNair and trainer Gregg McNair, both of Guelph, ON. The pair won the 2013 edition with Lady Shadow. They also paired up to win the Batlle Of Waterloo in 2008, 2013 and 2015.
“I haven’t been in the winner’s circle for a while for one of these races,” said Doug McNair. “I remember when I was 18 standing here. Time flies. It feels pretty good to be here today. And nice to get one for Keith (Waples).”
Hall Of Fame horseman Keith Waples co-owns the Sportswriter filly with his wife Eileen and their daughter Karen Hauver. Karma Seelster was a $127,000 yearling purchase in 2018 at the London Select Sale.
“We had a little trouble with her gait this winter (in Florida) but she has really come along since we’ve been back in Ontario,” said Gregg McNair. “It’s great to win at Grand River Raceway. It’s our home track and we’re here quite a bit in the spring training these horses down and I really like it here,” he said.
The Industry Day undercard included five divisions of Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) for three-year-old colt pacers.
Division leader Sugartown sweetened his hold on the year-end Grassroots title. The Sportswriter son held off Fast N First (James MacDonald) to win his third sophomore OSS race (and sixth season win) by a neck in 1:53.1 with Louis Philippe Roy for trainer Richard Moreau.
That 1:53.1 clocking was the quickest of OSS action on Industry Day and matched the first division of the day when Travis Cullen steered Dreamfair Moxy to his sixth career win for owner John Lamers and trainer Jodie Cullen.
The final division featured HP Napoleon in his fourth consecutive win from nine starts this season. Mario Baillargeon drove the Big Jim gelding for brother Ben Baillargeon to a three-quarter-length finish in 1:54.3.
The quickest mile of the afternoon went to Ghost Dance in the Preferred pace (Race 9). Bob McClure piloted the Nick Gallucci student to a front-end win by 13 lengths in 1:51.1 for owner Millar Farms. It was the first win of the season for the four-year-old gelding. He has banked $166,000 in career earnings.
Today’s handle of $488,696 is a new Industry Day record, besting the previous record of $481,239 set in 2016.
Videos from Industry Day:
FFI: Contact Jenna Knox at (519) 846-5455 ext. 247 or firstname.lastname@example.org