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McNair expects big night of racing on Camluck Classic card
A must-attend event on the Ontario horse racing calendar for almost 50 years, this Friday’s $458,650 Camluck Classic program at The Raceway at Western Fair District is loaded with some of the best harness racing talent in North America.
Seven Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old pacing fillies and four City of London Finals will serve as a prelude to The Raceway’s season finale, the $157,000 Camluck Classic Invitational for aged pacers. Trainer Gregg McNair will start two fillies in the Grassroots divisions and one pacing gelding in the last City of London final and the veteran horseman is confident fans will be treated to an exciting night of racing.
“Oh it’s a big night. I’ve been there a lot of times,” said McNair, who won the Camluck Classic predecessor, the Molson Pace, in 2008 with Eagle Luck. “We’ve raced a couple horses in it, I think we were second in it one year and we won it one time. It’s a big honour to race in it.”
While McNair does not have a starter in this year’s signature race, he can claim a connection to Southwind Amazon, a son of the race’s namesake who will start from Post 4 for current trainer Paul Holzman and Hall of Fame driver Dave Palone.
“I actually had him at one time. I hate to say it, but we raced him in the Grassroots and now he’s in the Camluck,” said a rueful McNair, who campaigned Camluck son Southwind Amazon during his two and three-year-old seasons in 2012 and 2013. “He’s come along to be a good horse.”
Before the top aged pacers go behind the starting gate for the Camluck Classic, McNair will send out three-year-old pacing fillies Kylie Seelster and Sugar Shadow in the sixth and seventh $22,800 Grassroots divisions. Kylie Seelster will start from Post 4 in the ninth race and the daughter of Big Jim heads into the race off two sophomore starts at Woodbine Mohawk Park, a sixth-place result in the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association stake on May 11 and a runner-up finish on May 20.
“That’s a good position for her. She’s a good filly. She gets around a half good too,” said the Guelph resident, who shares ownership of Kylie Seelster with Hall of Fame horseman Keith Waples of Durham and London, ON veterinarian Dr. Chris Robson. “We were kind of wishing she would have been in at Mohawk Saturday night (in the Gold Series), but we decided to go to the Grassroots.”
Kylie Seelster captured a Grassroots division over the Grand River Raceway half-mile in her OSS debut last summer and her connections are hoping that she and driver Trevor Henry can deliver a similar result in the sophomore season opener.
Shadow Play daughter Sugar Shadow will start from Post 3 in the tenth race, with Jody Jamieson in the race bike for owner-breeder Robert Chapple of Chatham, ON.
The fillies’ stablemate Balder Son was a handy winner of his City Of London Series elimination on May 22, touring The Raceway half-mile in 1:55.3. The Betterthancheddar son will be hampered by Post 7 in the $31,400 final, but McNair hopes driver Billy Davis, Jr. can still map out a trip.
“He’s as good as anything in there, post position is probably going to be a little tough on him, but he’s a nice horse and the turns don’t bother him much either,” said the horseman, who trains three-year-old pacing gelding Balder Son for Roderick Smith of Inverness, NS. “Not that you’d be thinking about cutting out the mile or anything, but he usually races better following horses anyway.
“Hope he just doesn’t have to follow them the whole way, that’s all,” added McNair with a chuckle.
Post time for the Camluck Classic program is 6:55 pm with the Grassroots divisions going postward as Races 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10, the City of London Finals slated as Races 1, 3, 7, and 11 and the marquee event wrapping things up in Race 12. Fans will also enjoy live music from Sarina Haggarty and Connor Morand, food and drink specials and a variety of give-aways throughout the evening.
Complete details for the Friday, May 31 Camluck Classic are available at The Raceway at Western Fair District — Camluck Classic.
Entries for the event are available at The Raceway at Western Fair District Entries — Friday, May 31, 2019.
In addition to Friday’s Grassroots event, The Raceway at Western Fair District will also host a Gold Series Leg for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Friday, Oct. 4. Find The Raceway’s complete OSS schedule at Ontario Sires Stakes Schedule — The Raceway at Western Fair District.