For the second time this season the province’s best two-year-old trotting fillies have rewritten a track, Ontario Sires Stakes and Canadian speed record, with Dabra Day etching her name into the Flamboro Downs record books with a sizzling 1:56.1 effort on Sunday, Sept. 19.
In rein to Louis-Philippe Roy in the second $99,000 Gold division, Dabra Day fired out of Post 3 and edged away from the field with every stride, hitting the quarter in :28.2, the half in :57.3, the three-quarters in 1:26.2 and the finish line in 1:56.1. Socks N Crocs was six and one-quarter lengths back in second, and HP Felicity rounded out the top three. Favourite Mischevious Rose was never a factor and finished well back in fifth.
The mile took a full second off the 1:57.1 Ontario Sires Stakes and Canadian record for two-year-old trotting fillies on a half-mile track that Adare Castle established in Gold Series action at Grand River Raceway on July 28, and lowered the 1:57.4 Flamboro Downs record set by Devils Advocate in a 2015 Gold Leg. Dabra Day is now the fastest two-year-old trotter ever over a half-mile oval in Canada, with her 1:56.1 record also eclipsing the colt and gelding marks.
“She wears the trotting hopples, but she’s very good gaited and she trots around the turns great,” said trainer Meg Crone. “I can’t actually tell you what happened; I never can watch her race. I watch the replay when I get home.”
Crone’s reluctance to watch the Kadabra daughter stems from the filly’s quirky nature. She has two breaks on her resume and can be thrown off her game by anything new and different. Sunday was her first start at any racetrack other than Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“Being there for the first time she was little bit more excitable than she has been, but she overcome it,” said the Cambridge, ON resident, who trains the filly for W. J. Donovan of Monument Beach, MA and Purnel And Libby LLC of Ocean Ridge, FL. “She doesn’t look at things like she did before, she’s a lot better than way, but she still does get excited. I think next year she’ll mature a lot and be a lot smarter.”
The win was Dabra Day’s third lifetime and her second in Gold Series action. With 100 points she now sits second in the Gold Series division standings behind Adare Castle, who suffered her first Ontario Sires Stakes loss in the other $99,800 division.
Adare Castle and driver James MacDonald were sent off as the heavy favourites from Post 6, but the public’s third choice, Grace, took command from Post 2 and never looked back. Doug McNair fired Grace off the wings and the filly reached the quarter in :29, the half in :59.3, the three-quarters in 1:27.4 and the finish line in a personal best 1:58. Adare Castle finished three lengths back in second and Lilys Lass completed the top three.
“She’s always excelled in the turns. She was always very powerful in the turns, and then we had to watch her in the straightaways basically,” said Amy MacDonald, co-owner of fractional ownership enterprise TheStable.ca, whose Grace Group owns the filly. “I am happy for everybody.”
The win was Grace’s first in Ontario Sires Stakes action and her second straight, with the first coming in a Sept. 7 overnight at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The Merchandiser daughter finished second in the July 6 Gold Series opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park but, battling some sickness and problems with tying up, made early breaks and finished out of the money in the next two legs. Since requalifying on Aug. 31 Grace is a perfect two-for-two and MacDonald said much of the credit goes to caretaker Cindy Acton, who has been caring for the late-blooming filly since April.
“She deserves a lot of accolades, her and her husband Shane (Acton). James (MacDonald) has been a big help too, he goes to the track and schools her or trains her,” said MacDonald of her brother-in-law, who handed the drive on Grace over to McNair on Sunday, opting for Adare Castle, but had driven the filly in all of her previous outings.
“She just was one of those horses all winter that we were like, ‘Oh Grace, it’s just Grace, you know, whatever Grace’. I always ended up training her because nobody wanted to go with her,” said Guelph, ON resident MacDonald. “She qualified really good at Mohawk and then she was second in her first lifetime start, trotted in 1:57, and everyone was like, ‘Where did this horse come from? Who is Grace?’ She was just kind of at the bottom of the food chain and she just kept marching forward. She did spoil two stake races and it was unfortunate, but after tonight she seems to be back on track, which is good.”
The win bumped Grace from ninth to fourth in the two-year-old trotting filly Gold standings. The fillies will wrap up their regular season at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Oct. 4 and then the top 10 point earners will compete in the $225,000 Super Final at the Campbellville oval on Oct. 16.
Complete results from Sunday’s races are available here and replays can be viewed on the Flamboro Downs website.
Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Flamboro Downs on Tuesday, Sept. 21 with the last regular season Grassroots Leg for the two-year-old trotting fillies. The fillies will compete in Races 2, 4 and 7 on the card, which gets under way at 6:35 pm. Programs and a live stream are available on the Flamboro Downs website.
(Photo of Dabra Day and driver Louis-Philippe Roy courtesy racehorsephoto)
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