The race for a berth in the two-year-old trotting filly Grassroots post season remains wide open as three new faces graced the winner’s circle at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday, Sept. 13.
Both Needa Little Magic and Lovin Julie took advantage of a move from the Gold to the Grassroots level to secure their first Ontario Sires Stakes win, while Moneyworth continued her steady improvement with a nose victory in the third $22,150 division.
Starting from Post 8 in the opening split, driver Doug McNair put Needa Little Magic on the front before the :58.1 half, rang up a :58.1 three-quarters and then battled down the stretch to a neck victory in 1:57.2. Favourite Portofino settled for second and early pacesetter Angelonia finished third.
“She’s been nice all year. Something was obviously bothering her last start (Aug. 26), but she rebounded tonight,” said McNair, who drove Needa Little Magic to her first lifetime win for his father Gregg McNair of Guelph, Ont. The elder McNair bred, owns and trains the daughter of Kadabra and Luck Is All Ineed, who had posted a trio of third-place finishes in Gold Series action before trailing home seventh in her August 26 Champlain Stakes division at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
The McNairs now face a decision heading into the final regular season event. With 36 points, Needa Little Magic sits sixth in the Gold Series standings, while her 50 Grassroots points put her in a five-way tie for twelfth spot. The top 10 point earners advance to the October 16 Gold Series Super Final, while the top 20 point earners will compete in the September 30 Grassroots Semi-Finals. To compete in the Semi-Final, Needa Little Magic will have to start in the final Grassroots Leg at Flamboro Downs on September 21. If McNair opts for a return to the Gold Series in hopes of a Super Final berth, the filly will make her next start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on October 4.
Lovin Julie faces the same potential dilemma, but the decision will probably be easier for trainer Tony O’Sullivan of Cambridge, Ont., and owners Andy Miller Stable Inc. of Millstone Township, New Jersey, Caroll Huffman of Sigourney, Iowa and Louis Willinger of Louisville, Kentucky. The Muscle Mass filly currently sits 11th in the Gold Series standings with 22 points earned through one third, one fourth and one seventh, while her 50 Grassroots points have her tied with Needa Little Magic for 12th.
Also like Needa Little Magic, Lovin Julie left well from Post 6 and was in command before the 1:00 half. Driver Louis-Philippe Roy guided her to a 1:29.4 three-quarters and then opened up a two and three-quarter length margin on the field on the way to a 1:58.4 victory. Ladies First and Classic Magic followed the fan favourite across the wire.
“She’s all business, like an old horse, and she was feeling strong under the wire,” said Roy, who also drove the filly to a win in an August 10 overnight event at Woodbine Mohawk Park. “She makes my job easy.”
Moneyworth jumped from 31st to sixth with her victory in the last division. The Encore Encore daughter was seventh in her Grassroots debut at Georgian Downs on August 3 and fourth in the August 15 event at Hanover Raceway for a total point tally of 60.
“Her nickname was ‘Slow and Steady’ because she would just grind away and never really impressed me, but didn’t disappoint me,” said trainer Paul Reid, who also sent out daughters of Encore Encore in the first two divisions. “The other two had quicker speed and just trained much better all winter, and she just kind of plugged away and got ready a little later. She was a couple weeks behind all the time, now she’s got the win on her card and the other two didn’t get cheques. Better to be slow and steady sometimes.”
In rein to Scott Young, Moneyworth got away last in the field of nine from Post 8 and watched from the back of the pack as favourite Clockwork Orange trotted to a :28.4 quarter and :59.2 half. By the 1:29.3 three-quarters Moneyworth had advanced to fifth and a strong closing kick saw her get a nose in front at the 1:58.4 finish. Complete Life also closed well for second, leaving Clockwork Orange to settle for third.
“To come from as far back as she did, I was really happy with her,” said Reid, who trains Moneyworth for Brian Kleinberg of Madison, New Jersey. “We needed one of the three to step up, and she did.”
Moneyworth will be headed to Flamboro Downs on September 21 for the last Grassroots Leg and then hopes to return to Woodbine Mohawk Park for the Semi-Final on September 30. The top five finishers from each Semi-Final will compete in the Grassroots Championship at the Campbellville oval on October 9.
Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Tuesday, Sept. 14 with the final Grassroots Series leg for the three-year-old pacing colts. The colts will compete in Races 4 and 8 on the 7 p.m. card.
To view results for Monday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.