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Hanover hosts freshman pacing filly debut Saturday
HANOVER, ON — Ontario Sires Stakes action storms into Hanover on Saturday evening with five Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old pacing fillies.
Thirty-five freshman fillies will roar around the Hanover Raceway half-mile, competing for a total of $94,970 in provincial purse money and valuable points toward a berth in the season ending Grassroots Championship. With a solid qualifier over the Hanover oval under her belt, Mark Etsell trainee High Destiny Lady will be hoping to collect a bit of both from Post 2 in the seventh race.
“She qualified easy. She didn’t have to work too hard for it,” says Etsell of the filly’s 2:02.4 mile last Saturday. “So we’ll see how she races in this one and how she comes out of it.”
Etsell acquired the daughter of Astreos and Mike Jenna at last fall’s Canadian Classic Yearling Sale for $15,000. The Hanover resident was shopping for a son or daughter of Astreos when the filly’s breeding and conformation caught his eye.
“I had in my mind to buy and Astreos and she is the first foal out of a Troublemaker mare. The mare didn’t race until she was older, but she raced until she was 14. She was a tough old girl, which never hurts in a broodmare,” notes the veteran horseman. “I liked the looks of her (High Destiny Lady) and she seemed like she had a decent attitude.”
Once she arrived in Etsell’s barn High Destiny Lady progressed steadily along her learning curve, coming easily to her gait and proving the trainer right about her disposition.
“She didn’t get us jumping out of our seats, but she kept us interested,” says the trainer, who shares ownership on the filly with his 20-year-old son Michael. “She was on schedule and everything just worked for her.”
The filly was somewhat nervous behind the starting gate in her qualifier so Etsell has spent the last few days on some extra lessons that should benefit the filly and driver Don McElroy when they line up behind the gate Saturday.
“She was a little apprehensive behind the gate, but she’s getting better,” he says. “I’ve had her behind the gate a few more times at the farm and there’s still room for improvement, but she’s getting better.”
Etsell asked two-time Lampman Cup winner McElroy to drive High Destiny Lady Saturday while he heads to Pennsylvania with another filly, and Michael will handle the pre and post-race training duties in the paddock.
“Michael will get his first shot at racing one on his own in the Sires Stakes,” says Etsell. “And Donnie’s good with the young ones so I’m not worried.”
McElroy and High Destiny Lady will face a field of six in the seventh race, including four who have already made their racing debut.
Hanover Raceway sends its first race onto the track at 7:20 pm Saturday and turns the spotlight on the two-year-old pacing fillies in Races 2, 4, 5, 7, and 9.