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Trotting fillies follow divergent paths to Gold Series victory
August 17, 2017
By OSS News

Fresh off a runner-up performance in the Hambletonian Oaks, Magic Presto returned to Ontario Sires Stakes competition at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday and cruised to her second Gold Series win of the season.

Starting from Post 1, driver Trevor Henry settled Magic Presto in third as Winter Sweet Frost rang up early fractions of :28.1 and :57.1. Heading for the 1:26.1 three-quarters Henry sent the heavy favourite to the outside and Magic Presto coasted down the stretch to a one length victory in 1:55.1. Winter Sweet Frost finished second and Gravitator was third.

“Nice and handy and not too hard a run, so I was pleased with the way things worked out,” said trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman. “We’ve got a really busy month coming up, so anytime you can get a relatively easy run, it’s good for everybody.”

In the next month Magic Presto and her three-year-old trotting filly peers have a series of open stake races at Mohawk starting with the Casual Breeze on August 25, followed by the Simcoe Stakes on Sept. 1 and the Elegantimage eliminations Sept. 9, with the final on Sept. 16. The last Gold Series event goes postward at Grand River Raceway on Sept. 27 and the season ending Super Final is Oct. 14 at Mohawk. With that schedule in mind Norman said Magic Presto will enjoy a lighter than normal training routine in the coming weeks, but overall the New Jersey-based trainer is pleased with the filly’s condition at the mid-point of her sophomore campaign.

“She’s in really good shape physically, she’s carrying a lot of weight, so I’m really happy with that part of it,” said the trainer. “She’s pretty laid back, and she’s a good eater; she’s a pretty happy horse, so not much worries her.”

In her 18 career starts the laidback daughter of Kadabra and In The Mean Time boasts a record of nine wins, five seconds and two thirds for total earnings of $755,159. Norman trains the filly for Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, ON, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL and Little E LLC of New York, NY.

Sweet Of My Heart also picked up her second Gold Series win on Thursday, although her journey back to the Ontario Sires Stakes winner’s circle was far more tortured than Magic Presto’s. Both fillies scored their first Gold Series win at Mohawk on June 8, but since then Magic Presto has not been worse than second racing against the very best fillies in North America while Sweet Of My Heart checked herself out of two straight Gold Legs after making breaks behind the starting gate and was forced to requalify.

“That running off a couple starts was no fun for anybody,” said trainer Paul Reid. “When you don’t even get to race because you’re on the break, that makes for a long night.”

After the miscues Reid and his wife Laurie teamed up with driver Jody Jamieson and the group has been working tirelessly, on and off the racetrack, to keep Sweet Of My Heart on an even keel. Their efforts paid off Thursday as the Angus Hall daughter got away cleanly from Post 6 and led the field through fractions of :27.1, :57.1 and 1:26 on her way to a 1:55.4 victory, keeping a head in front of fan favourite and division point leader On A Sunny Day. Majestic Kat was well back of the leaders in third.

“Jody did a good job of keeping her quiet in the post parade. Usually, as soon as she sees the starting gate, a little switch flips, and he’s been putting her right up on it and just kind of letting her get more relaxed behind it, kind of forcing her to get more relaxed behind it,” said Reid, who trains Sweet Of My Heart for owner-breeder Robert Key of Leechburg, PA. “And we’ve schooled her a couple times, and he qualified her for me, and he’s been working with me so we’ve re-rigged her and right now she’s controllable, so that’s our main thing. If she’s controllable she can trot with them. Otherwise, you’ve seen what can happen when she’s not.”

For his part, Jamieson was pleased with Sweet Of My Heart’s performance, but said there is still room for improvement from the winner of $207,900.

“Tonight she was much improved, but she’s still not back to where she was when Louis (Roy) won with her early in the summer,” said the Moffat, ON resident, referring to the 1:55 personal best the filly recorded in her June 8 victory.

Like Magic Presto, Sweet Of My Heart is eligible to all of the open stake events in the coming weeks, but Reid said the decision to compete in each event will depend on the filly’s performance in the days leading up to the entry deadlines.

Mohawk Racetrack continues to showcase the Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series this weekend, hosting the two-year-old trotting colts and fillies on Friday, August 25 and the two-year-old pacing colts and fillies on Saturday, August 19. Post time for both events is 7:30 pm.

For complete results please visit Three-year-old Trotting Filly Results