News ArchivesArchives for June '02
Excitement mounts as pacing fillies head to Woodbine
REXDALE, ON — Fourteen of the finest pacing fillies ever bred in Ontario are headed for Woodbine Racetrack on Monday night to compete in the second of five Gold Series Eliminations on their Ontario Sires Stakes schedule.
Adding to the buzz surrounding this exciting division is the emergence of the undefeated Precious Delight from her winter sabbatical and the lightning fast miles recorded by several of her peers in recent weeks. Imoutahere and Oven Mitt recorded 1:52.2 and 1:52.1 victories in the last week and Oven Mitt’s trainer Bob Young predicts that capturing a win in Monday’s Gold Elimination will take a 1:53 effort at minimum.
“I think if the weather is good both divisions will go in 1:53 and a bit,” says the Guelph resident, who will send Oven Mitt to the start from Post 4 in the fourth race. “I also think this division will drop down to 10 fillies in a hurry.”
Monday’s start will be Oven Mitt’s first of the season in Ontario Sires Stakes company. After a 15-race two-year-old campaign, Young opted to give the Albert Albert daughter an extra long winter vacation and skip the season opener at Windsor Raceway on May 12. Instead, he qualified the filly in mid-May and sent her to Barrie’s Georgian Downs for two starts before tackling the bigger fish at Woodbine on July 10, when she scored her impressive 1:52.1 victory.
“I think between two and three they need a good rest, so I turned her out for two months at the end of last year,” says Young, who trains Oven Mitt for his partners Paul Gazzola of Guelph and Brian Barton of Carlisle. “I started her at Barrie because I wanted a couple of starts away from the Jockey Club (Woodbine Entertainment Group). I wanted her to have a couple of races where she wouldn’t get stretched to the limit and I was lucky that she fit a couple of classes at Georgian Downs. It was a great schedule to bring her along.”
Doug Brown returned to the race bike for Oven Mitt’s June 10 start at Woodbine and Young says the veteran driver was impressed by the filly’s physical maturity.
“Doug had not seen her since last year and he couldn’t believe how much bigger and stronger and more filled out she had got,” says the trainer. “She’s ready, she’s sound and if she can be like she was last year that would be great. She made almost $140,000 and if she could have the same year or better we’d be ecstatic.”
Young will also harness Armbro Whimsical in her first OSS start of the year. The Village Jasper daughter will pace up behind the gate into Post Position 2, right beside last year’s Two-year-old Pacing Filly of the Year Precious Delight.
“To me Precious Delight is still the best,” says Young, who adds Armbro Whimsical will have to prove herself in the Gold ranks to earn a second opportunity in the upper echelons.
“At one time I thought she (Armbro Whimsical) was better than Oven Mitt,” he says. “ She’s got the size and strength and gait, but she’s got to prove herself at this level. Maybe she should be going to Sarnia for the Grassroots, but we thought we’d give them both a shot.”
The Whim Stable of Burlington, James Howie of Etobicoke, Charles Armstrong of Brampton and Brian Barton of Carlisle own Armbro Whimsical, who heads into Monday’s contest off three starts at Woodbine with her most recent effort landing her the runner-up cheque in a 1:54.2 mile.
While Armbro Whimsical faces Precious Delight from the rail in Race 2, Oven Mitt will square off against reigning Gold Series champ Lady Graceful from the outside in the second elimination.
Undefeated through three starts Lady Graceful heads into the Gold Elimination off a victory in the Scarlett O’Hara Stake at Scioto Downs on May 31, where she fended off a challenge by last year’s Breeder’s Crown champion Cam Swifty to score the 1:55 win.
“Eventually she is going to join my broodmare band,” explains owner Robert Waxman of Ancaster. “So as much as we appreciate racing in the Ontario Sires Stakes — it’s a great program — we’d also like to show that she, and other OSS horses, can be competitive against American-breds. So we will venture here and there, where there are gaps in the Sires Stakes, to other stakes.”
Waxman says if his wishes came true this season Lady Graceful would win the $300,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final, the historic Jugette in Delaware, OH and go over $1 million dollars in earnings before she retires to her second career as a broodmare. However, he admits that all three will be difficult goals to accomplish in a division as competitive as this year’s three-year-old pacing filly crop.
With $105,687 earned in her three starts this season to add to $524,365 she earned at two, Lady Graceful is already on her way to achieving one of Waxman’s wishes. The Robert McIntosh trainee will attempt to add half of the $56,614 purse from Monday’s elimination to her coffers from Post 7 in Race 4.
The excitement gets under way at 7:40 pm at Woodbine Racetrack on Monday, and the talented three-year-old pacing fillies will take centre stage in Races 2 and 4. The top five finishers from each seven-horse Elimination will advance to the $130,000 Gold Final on June 24.