ELORA, ON — Grand River Raceway’s 30th annual Industry Day event on August 3 sustained bouts of heavy rain during the 10-race anniversary card which boasted purses of $669,663 with nine stake races, featuring the track’s two marquee dashes.
But it was a sunny finish for the Guelph, ON father-son duo of Gregg and Doug McNair who clinched their fourth Battle Of Waterloo victory.
23rd annual Battle Of Waterloo
At 8-5, Bettor Sun was the co-favourite heading into post time for the $200,964 contest for rookie Ontario-sired pacing colts.
Trained by Gregg McNair for breeder/owner Willow Oak Ranch, the Sunshine Beach colt was piloted by Doug McNair, who left from post two and took control of the field by the half-mile marker. The pair finished a length ahead of Avion Seelster (Jody Jamieson) and Cantstoplying (Jonathan Drury).
A 35-1 champ in last week’s maiden-breaking effort in his elimination division, Bettor Sun’s 1:54.1 finish in that dash set a Canadian season record for two-year-old pacing colts over a half-mile oval.
He bested his own record with today’s clocking of 1:53.4.
“Last week he surprised a lot of people, including myself,” Doug McNair following the final. “He’s the colt I liked the most of dad’s two-year-olds this year.”
“He’s good gaited; he gets around like a hoop around a barrel.”
The McNairs previously won the Battle Of Waterloo with Magnum J in 2017, Three Of Clubs in 2013, and Trail Boss in 2008.
Bettor Sun’s triumph boosts his bankroll to $116,558 in three career starts.
12th annual Battle Of The Belles
Scarlett Hanover and Ed Hensley left from the second tier and carved out a solid pocket trip to take the $128,149 Battle Of The Belles final in a new stakes record of 1:54.3. The mile also set a Canadian season record for rookie pacing fillies over a half-mile track and just missed the divisional track record by one-fifth of a second.
“I followed a good horse and got a great trip,” said Hensley of eventual runner-up, Ring Of Kerry, who led the field to the three-quarter marker. “My mare was getting a little rammy; she wanted out of the there and I was able to get out at the right time.”
In last week’s elimination division, Scarlett Hanover wired the field to capture her maiden in 1:55.3. Ashleigh Hensley trains the Bettors Delight daughter, a $45,000 yearling purchase and winner of $101,855 in four career starts for owners Burke Racing Stable, Frank Baldachino, Jandt Silva Purnel & Libb, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.
Ring Of Kerry was the runner-up with Sylvain Filion and Cyclone Seelster was close behind in third with Bob McClure.
Three-year-old pacing fillies in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) underpinned the card with two Gold Series divisions and five fields of Grassroots contenders.
Last year’s Battle Of The Belles champ, Karma Seelster was an impressive winner in the first Gold Series division which kicked off the matinee program. Piloted by Doug McNair, the Sportswriter filly was 7-1 as she took to the front of the field early in the mile en route to clocking her 1:53 victory (just one-fifth of a second off the track record). Owned by Eileen and Keith Waples and Karen Hauver, the Gregg McNair trainee is a career winner of five races and $354,005.
Sound Idea with Bob McClure and Betalady with Jody Jamieson rounded out the top three.
Lauras Love took the second Gold Series division in 1:54.2 with a half-length advantage over Rose Run Vantage (Sylvain Filion) who cut out the mile. All Day Sunshine (Louis Philippe Roy) was third.
It was the second consecutive win for Lauras Love, and seventh of the season from 11 starts. John Pentland trains and co-owns the Betterthancheddar filly with Gracie Mae Barr. Her lion’s share of the $105,600 purse brings her career tally to $141,584.
Race favourite Kat captured her first season win in the first of five OSS Grassroots divisions (Race 2) for trainer James Dean. With Jody Jamieson in the bike, the pair took control of the field at the first quarter and staved off outside attackers at the final quarter, with a half-length score in 1:56. The daughter of Hes Watching is owned by Wilma and James MacKenzie. Count To Three with Trevor Henry and Docs Harmony (Travis Cullen) were close behind at the wire.
Free Flyin Ticket scored her second consecutive OSS Grassroots victory in Race 3. Paul MacDonell steered the Betterthancheddar filly to a three-length win in 1:54.1, elevating her to the top of the OSS division standings. Trainer Anthony Beaton co-owns with David Mercer, Gary Volpe and George Quarterone. The runner-up was High Roller Duke (Colin Kelly), while Tuggingoncredit finished third (Louis Philippe Roy).
Bettorthanbobbie added another win to her burgeoning collection, with a half-length score in Race 5. Sylvain Filion steered the bettors’ top choice to her sixth season win in 1:54.4 for trainer Marcel Barrieau and owner Ian Smith. Bettorthanbobbie is a career winner of 11 races and $53,828.
Doug McNair managed a wire-to-wire trip with Landry Seelster in Race 6. The race favourite posted her second consecutive OSS victory in 1:55 for trainer Michael Ellis and owner Kim Lezanchuk. Jonathan Drury and Mary Kat finished second, followed by Coqui Coqui with Travis Cullen.
The final Grassroots division was the quickest, claimed by Preeminence, winning by open lengths with Bob McClure in the bike in a new career best of 1:54. Sent off at 9-5, The Sportswriter filly is trained by Marcel Barrieau for Claude Baril, Gilles Caouette and Michael Daneault. Keystone Kalimba (Jody Jamieson) was second and race favourite Trafalgar (Sylvain Filion) rounded out the top three.
The card’s only overnight race was a $15,000 Preferred in Race 4 which was contested under heavy rain. The sloppy track didn’t deter Pretty Handsome from claiming his 27th career win in 1:55. Sent off at 3-1 with Colin Kelly aboard, the five-year-old pacer began his first-over attack in the final quarter and finished a length ahead of Exit Smiling with J. R. Plante and Toot Toot N with Ed Hensley. Pretty Handsome is trained by Lacey McCabe for owner Glenview Livestock Ltd and is a career winner of $270,975.
Total handle for this year’s 10-race Industry Day was $392,062 which was down slightly from the 11-race card handle of $488,696 in 2019.