Karma Seelster reigns supreme at Grand River Raceway
“She’s great gaited and she’s handy off the wings."
August 14, 2019
Battle Of The Belles champion Karma Seelster returned to Grand River Raceway for Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series action on Wednesday, Aug. 14 and picked up her third straight win at the Elora oval.
With Post 4 in the second $72,267 Gold division, driver Doug McNair fired Karma Seelster off the starting gate and led the field of two-year-old pacing fillies to a :28.3 opening quarter. From there the fan favourites rolled along to a :58.1 half and 1:27.2 three-quarters before cruising down the stretch to a one and three-quarter length win in 1:56.3. Temagami Seelster got up for second, edging pocket-sitter Got Power into third.
“She was good again. She got a lot easier trip than last week (Aug. 5 Belles Final),” said Guelph resident Doug McNair, who piloted the filly to all three wins. “She’s great gaited and she’s handy off the wings, so that really helps for this track. She got to pick up some pretty good money the last couple weeks here.”
The driver’s father Gregg McNair, who also calls rural Guelph home, trains Karma Seelster for Hall of Fame horseman Keith Waples, his wife Eileen Waples and their daughter Karen Hauver of Durham, ON. The Waples family purchased the half-sister to $824,150 winner Kendall Seelster for $127,000 from last fall’s London Selected Yearling Sale and in her first five starts she has banked $155,251.
“A bunch of the owners were out there. I’m not sure if it was grandkids, but they were cheering for her and stuff before, so that was a lot of fun,” added the driver, who stopped by the rail before the race so Karma Seelster could acknowledge her fans. “They had a fan club there.”
The fans cheered Karma Seelster on to her first win in Gold Series action which, added to the second and third she recorded in her first two provincial starts, puts her in second spot in the two-year-old pacing filly standings with 87 points.
Driver Bob McClure won the other two Gold Series divisions, the first boosting Off The Press into top spot in the standings and the second earning P L Notorious her first Ontario Sires Stakes victory.
Starting from the advantageous Post 1 in the first division, McClure allowed fan favourite Sound Idea to take early control and settled Off The Press in second. Sound Idea carried on through fractions of :28, :57.4 and 1:26.1 while Off The Press watched comfortably from the pocket. In the stretch McClure sent Off The Press up the inside and the filly powered home to a one and one-half length victory in 1:55.3. Sound Idea settled for second and Keystone Kalimba was third.
“Bobby gave her a great trip,” said Paul Reid, who trains Off The Press for owner-breeder Robert Key of Leechburg, PA. “He’s a good young driver. It’s always good when you can get somebody that’s hot, it definitely helps the game. And it’s always nice to see one that we had all winter do well. We’ve had luck in the past couple of years with picking up horses when we got up here that did well for us, but it’s nice to have one that’s good for Bob Key.”
Off The Press finished a disappointing seventh in the Battle Of The Belles elimination won by Karma Seelster, but Reid said the Sportswriter daughter came up sick after the race. After a bit of rest and a round of antibiotics the filly rebounded and a training mile over the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval assured Reid that she would be ready for Wednesday’s test.
“She trained back good there last weekend, I took her into Mohawk and trained her and she trained real well so I was pretty confident coming in that she was back to herself, but you still never know what everybody else is going to be up to,” said the horseman, who is based in Florida through the winter.
“There’s plenty of racing, there’s no doubt, so to miss one here and there is not the end of the world,” he added.
In addition to the remaining regular season Gold events on Aug. 30 and Sept. 30, and the Oct. 12 Super Final, Off The Press is eligible to all of the open stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park in the coming weeks — the Eternal Camnation on August 24, Champlain Stakes on Sept. 7 and Shes A Great Lady eliminations and final on Sept. 14 and 21.
In the last division McClure once again lined up at Post 1 with P L Notorious and the Rockwood resident sent the fan favourite straight to the front. P L Notorious sailed through fractions of :28.3, :58.3 and 1:27 and then held off Rose Run Vantage for a three-quarter length win in 1:55.4. Lady Natasha rounded out the top three.
“She is a big, fast filly with a really nice gait,” said McClure of the Sunshine Beach daughter. “And she continues to get smarter.”
Rod Hughes of Dunsford trains P L Notorious for owner-breeder Prince Lee Acres of Uxbridge, ON. Wednesday’s win was the filly’s first in Gold Series action after a fifth and a sixth-place result in the first two legs. She was also a winner in overnight action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Aug. 5.
Complete results for Wednesday’s program are available at https://standardbredcanada.ca/racing/results/data/r0814grvrn.dat.
Ontario Sires Stakes excitement returns to Grand River Raceway on Monday, Sept. 4 with the fourth Grassroots Leg for the two-year-old trotting fillies.
(Photo of Karma Seelster and Doug McNair courtesy of AG Photography)