MILTON, June 17, 2023 – Driver Doug McNair found his way back to the winner’s circle with Grace Hill, who powered to a stakes-, track- and Canadian-record mile in the $305,000 Roses Are Red final on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
McNair landed Grace Hill, the even-money favourite, in third as Silver Label scorched a :25.3 first quarter with Kobes Gigi in behind. As Silver Label tried to grab a breather up the backside, McNair made his move to push Grace Hill to the top and took over control just past a :53.4 half, but kept rolling through the final turn.
Grace Hill coasted to three-quarters in 1:21.1 and peeled away from Silver Label through the lane to a healthy cushion by the eighth pole. McNair began his celebration with a pumped fist at the sixteenth pole and posed for the camera as Grace Hill crossed the line in 1:47.4 to eclipse a decade-old record set by Anndrovette, who in 2013 won the Roses Are Red in a time of 1:48 to set a stakes record along with a track and Canadian record for aged pacing mares. Silver Label finished second, beaten 2-1/2 lengths, with So Much More took third and Kobes Gigi fourth
“15, 20 minutes ago I’m laying on the track not knowing what’s going on,” McNair said after the race. “Next thing you know, I’m standing in the winner’s circle for the Roses Are Red on one of the greatest mares to ever see through a bridle, I think.
“She felt great,” McNair also said. “Dexter [Dunn with Treacherous Dragon] had the 2-hole, so we kind of wanted to get advantage of him coming out of the turn. Once the dust settled, I put her on the front and she did the rest. I was just a passenger… it was just outrageous.”
The victory for Grace Hill pushes her deeper down millionaire territory with $1,465,380 banked for owner Tom Hill. The five-year-old daughter of Always B Miki won for the 24th time in 51 tries and collected her first Canadian stakes win since upsetting star mare Test Of Faith in the $540,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace last fall at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Owner Tom Hill, in the post race interview, grabbed the microphone and said “Virgil [Morgan Jr.]’s been telling me for the eight, nine months he’s had her that she’s the best mare on the planet. She’s proved it tonight.”
Grace Hill paid $4.10 to win.
Ray Cotolo for Woodbine Communications