My Girl Sky rolls in Thunder Bay
TORONTO, October 21, 2022 – The Ontario Sire Heritage Series stepped into the spotlight Friday afternoon at Woodbine with My Girl Sky capturing the $100,500 Thunder Bay Stakes.
The 7-furlong turf event is part of an eight-leg stakes series open to Ontario Sired 3-year-olds, held at Woodbine and Fort Erie racetracks.
Ontario Racing and its Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) Committee unveiled the series in 2021. With a total purse structure of $800,000 this year, the Heritage Series features a total of four races – three opening legs and one final – for both 3-year-old colts and 3-year-old fillies who are sustained to the Ontario Sires Stakes program.
Sent off at 7-1 in the Thunder Bay, for fillies, My Girl Sky was settled into fifth of nine in the early going, as Well Actually and Indian Music battled for the early lead with the former emerging on top, taking her rivals through an opening split of :23.82.
Well Actually continued to call the shots on the front end, with Indian Music a length back and My Girl Sky moving up to third along the inside after a half reached in :47.30.
As the field turned for home, Well Actually tried to slip away on her pursuers, but Bahen had My Girl Sky ready to roll, and the daughter of Dynamic Sky-Channel the Green soon began to cut into the lead.
A length behind at the stretch call, My Girl Sky took over the proceedings soon after and went on to post 1 ¾-length win over runner-up Souper Flashy. Well Actually held for third and Talk to Ya Later was fourth.
The final time over good going was 1:23.53.
“She really gives it her all in all her starts,” said trainer Katerina Vassilieva. “A few of the races, we were really expecting a little bit more out of her, but the race didn’t play out quite the way we wanted. Today, all the luck was on our side. I was actually a little bit concerned that the turf would be too soft. That was my concern. A part of me was hoping it would come off [the turf], but obviously it wasn’t a problem for the filly today. She handled it just fine.”
Bred by FrostFire Thoroughbreds, the grey is now 3-1-0 from 10 starts.
“This is our second stakes race we’ve won,” said owner Kevin Drew. “We won with Jilli Marie in the  South Ocean when she was a 2-year-old. It feels great. We had a great win in July, and I really thought she was going to take off from there. She looked like a world beater, and then we had a couple of bad luck races. That’s what happens.”
My Girl Sky paid $16.40 for the win.
Banff wins Lake Superior thriller
TORONTO, October 21, 2021 – The $100,000 Lake Superior Stakes, part of the Ontario Sire Heritage Series, saw Banff edge a game and equally determined Hunt Master, Friday at Woodbine.
The 7-panel turf event for 3-year-old colts and geldings is part of the Ontario Sired Heritage Series (see Thunder Bay recap for more info).
After an early tussle for top spot, Giant Teddy grabbed the lead with Bossy Holiday and Uncle Joe in close pursuit. Sahin Civaci, aboard Banff, kept the gelding at the back of the pack through an opening split of :23.40.
Giant Teddy was on top by two lengths through a half in :45.63, as Uncle Joe maintained his spot in second, and Hunt Master took over third, while Banff, supplemented to the race, could still see them all.
When the field straightened for the long stretch run, Giant Teddy was still on top, but Hunt Master loomed a major threat as did Banff, who began to roll from the back.
Mid-way down the lane, Banff, the 3-5 choice, and Hunt Master, at 10-1, commenced their compelling battle to the finish line, both horses and their respective riders not giving an inch.
It was Banff who put a head in front with one final surge, eking out a gutsy win over a tenacious foe. Uncle Joe was third, a neck ahead of Full Screen.
The final time was 1:22.05 over good ground.
“I was a little worried,” said trainer Martin Drexler, of his horse having to come from well back. “We did kind of want to be off of it. He seems to make that run every time, so I was hoping the turf was playing fair enough to make up the distance.”
Bred by Hill ‘N’ Dale Farms, the dark bay, a $25,000 claim earlier in the season, recorded his first stakes win and delivered the same for owners Douglas and Bridgette Cheetham.
“Really nice horse,” praised Douglas Cheetham. “My wife had her eye on this horse from the beginning. He’s a lovely horse. I’m speechless.”
A son of Silent Name (JPN)-El Tara, Banff, now 4-1-0 from seven starts, paid $3.20 for the win.
“He likes the grass a lot,” said Drexler. “It just kind of worked out that he took to the grass. He’s a developing 3-year-old who is getting better and better.”
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms