All systems are ‘go’ for the return of harness racing to Hiawatha Horse Park, Hanover Raceway and Kawartha Downs this Saturday (June 12), with a combined 31 races slated to take place at the trio of grassroots racing venues lifting the curtains on their respective 2021 summer seasons.
Hiawatha Horse Park, in Sarnia, Ont., will host an 11-race program with first post scheduled for 1 p.m. The Opening Day card features a $5,500 Preferred 3 Trot that has attracted competitors from Woodbine Mohawk Park as well as Signature tracks across western Ontario. Zorgwijk Tim has been tabbed the 5-2 morning line favourite in the featured finale, with trainer Lorne House driving the five-year-old Angus Hall entire from post six. In four starts this season, all in March at The Raceway at the Western Fair District, he has mustered two second-place finishes and a third-place finish in high-level conditioned races.
Of Zorgwijk Tim’s eight rivals, 25-time winner West River Cindy (Tyler Borth, post seven) and 13-time winner Mass Balance (Gene Piroski, post nine), both with six-figure bankrolls, present the strongest threats having both won $15,000 claiming events at London in March.
Defending Hiawatha driving champion Marc St. Louis Jr. will be back in action at the border oval with eight drives, including four for trainer Tyler Nostadt and three for the Mark Goddard stable.
Just 30 minutes after Hiawatha opens their 2021 stand, Hanover Raceway, an hour and a half northwest of Guelph, Ont., will kick off their season with a 10-race program due off at 1:30 p.m.
A $5,200 conditioned pace serves as the headlining event, carded as race seven and featuring a potential ‘battle of the sexes’ between Harpers Hat Trick and Randomirogeo, who concluded their respective March stands on strong notes. Harpers Hat Trick, who has drawn post one in the field of seven, reeled off three straight wins at London before falling a length short in an $8,200 conditioned event on March 30. Travis Henry will once again drive the sophomore Sportswriter colt, who has been installed the 6-5 early favourite, for Kristopher Haskell. Randomirogeo, who finished her June 2 qualifier at Grand River Raceway with a :27.3 final quarter, ended March with a pair of conditioned wins at London and will be driven by Drew Neill from post two.
Both Hiawatha and Hanover are slated to race on Saturday afternoons through a shared closing day of Sept. 18.
Action shifts to Eastern Ontario later in the afternoon as Kawartha Downs, near Peterborough, Ont., will open their stand with at 4 p.m.
Nick Boyd, last year’s top driver at Kawartha, has secured eight driving engagements on the 10-race card, including Robert Quinn trainee Buttercup Will in the featured third, a $5,000 conditioned pace for younger horses. Boyd and the four-year-old Whosurboy mare are installed at 6-1 in a race that includes two-time winner First Glance (post four), a Mario Baillargeon-trained son of Thinking Out Loud who drilled a 1:54.3 qualifier at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 3.
Kawartha Downs will host live harness racing every Saturday through and including Sept. 25.
To view full entries for Saturday afternoon’s harness racing action across Ontario, along with program pages (courtesy TrackIT), click the following links: