MILTON, October 29, 2022 – Driver Doug McNair asserted Grace Hill to the fore and used every inch of her speed to keep the furious stretch kick of Test Of Faith at bay to steal the show in the $540,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace on Saturday night (Oct. 29) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Amazing Dream and No Win No Feed battled through a :27.2 first quarter with Grace Hill gapping the pair from third into the backside. Once No Win No Feed abandoned her challenge to sit in the pocket, McNair launched Grace Hill for the front and seized control before a :54.3 half.
So Much More followed Grace Hill’s move and raced uncovered into the final turn, pressing the pacesetter. Mikala caught cover to race second over with Test Of Faith, the 2-5 favourite, placed third over in the sprint to three-quarters, timed in 1:21.3. Grace Hill spun for home still with a barrage at her back of So Much More and soon with Test Of Faith towering down the center. As Test Of Faith hit her best stride, the finish line came in time for Grace Hill, who had a head in front to stop the clock in a lifetime-best 1:48.4. So Much More survived her first-over blitz to take third and Amazing Dream finished fourth.
“We had a pretty good post and I thought a lot of the better ones were to the inside of her,” Doug McNair said after the race. “Leaving the gate, there wasn’t a whole ton of speed right off the bat. I took advantage of that, but she did all of the work and she deserved to win.”
The 1:48.4 mile matches the stakes record first set in 2009 by Hana Hanover, a time when the Breeders Crown final for aged pacing mares was contested before the fall. Kissin In The Sand matched that record when she won at Harrah’s Hoosier Park in 2020. Grace Hill’s victory also gave driver Doug McNair his second Breeders Crown trophy, with his first coming from Stay Hungry in the 2017 2-Year-Old Colt Pace.
“It feels great [to win a Breeders Crown],” McNair said. “These trophies are very tough to get for sure. They’re tough to get into races and to win them is even tougher, so it’s a thrill.”
Grace Hill, a 4-year-old Always B Miki mare out of the Western Terror mare Western Silk, also gave trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. his second Breeders Crown trophy to add to his win in the 2008 Open Pace with Mister Big. Tom Hill owns Grace Hill, who was bred by White Birch Farm, and added a third Breeders Crown trophy to his record. Her Breeders Crown win added an 18th victory to her 45 starts and pushed her bankroll into millionaire status at $1,174,790.
Off as the third choice, Grace Hill paid $13.30 to win.
Ray Cotolo, for Woodbine Communications