MILTON, September 29, 2023 - The Archangel filly Willys Home Run registered another ‘W’ to stay unbeaten in Gold action with a 1:55.3 win in the second of two divisions for the $201,700 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) for two-year-old trotting fillies on Friday night (Sept. 29).
Off the 1-9 favourite, Willys Home Run swung out of third after a :29.1 first quarter set by Zippy Zipporah to go for the lead. After James MacDonald planted Willys Home Run on the point past a :58.3 half, she sailed away from the field. Willys Home Run opened three lengths to three-quarters in 1:27.3, widened her lead through the lane and crossed the beam shut down and in front of late-closing P L Rainbow Dash by 3-1/4 lengths. Miss Cara finished third and Zippy Zipporah settled for fourth.
“You always worry about the really slow first quarter because when it’s a sprint anything can happen,” co-owner Robert Don Fellows said. “She got through the half comfortable, but these other fillies are catching up; they’re very good. She was very good today.”
Willys Home Run has now won five times – all in OSS Gold prelims – from nine starts and earned $373,935 for owners Dr. Sara Gatchell, Jake and Reg Higgs and N. Yolanda Fellows. Robert Kyle Fellows trains the filly who paid $2.20 to win.
R Liza outsprinted her peers in the first Gold division for trotting fillies to win going pillar to post in 1:56.2.
Driver Jody Jamieson mustered unchallenged speed from R Liza through the first turn, where she opened four lengths on Hit The Bank. R Liza got to the quarter in :28.3 and stole a breather to a :59.1 before charging into the final turn and opening seven lengths on her rivals. She clocked by three-quarters in 1:27.4 and built an insurmountable cushion for the stretch drive. Valuable Miss, the 3-5 favourite, tried to make inroads but ran out of racetrack 1-1/2 lengths behind in second. No One closed for third and Evolving finished fourth.
“Going to the gate, I could see Trevor’s horse [Valuable Miss] didn’t have much gate speed. I thought I’d let [my horse] do her thing off the gate, and she really wanted to trot out hard,” Jody Jamieson said. “I really had to be careful with her just because I didn’t want her to go too fast. But once I got there, she settled perfectly and when the half came up in [:]59, I thought I better stretch them out. And I didn’t know where Trevor was, but if he was first up around the last turn, I wanted her to trot hard with me.”
Susie Kerwood conditions R Liza, a daughter of Muscle Mass who has now won four races from seven starts and earned $107,657 for owners M and L of Delaware LLC and Alabama Harness Associate. She paid $6.70 to win.
Murray Brethour pupil Griff got back to his winning ways off a fifth-place finish in the Mohawk Million when he took the first of two $101,300 OSS Gold divisions for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings with a 1:54.1 effort.
Elegant Resolve, the co-favourite at even money, took the lead to a :27.1 first quarter and pocketed Jack N Abs to the backstretch all while Griff raced in fourth. Positions stayed unchanged to a :56.2 half, but stern challenges brewed to three-quarters in 1:26 as Mrstery Deal pushed first over with Griff in the wings. Mrstery Deal broke stride into the lane, leaving Elegant Resolve to contend with Griff into the closing eighth. Once straightening, Griff gathered his speed and pounced past Elegant Resolve to win going away by 1-1/2 lengths. Masstercraft closed to take third and Jack N Abs finished fourth.
“He’s just been getting a little better, a little stronger, a little smarter,” winning driver Bob McClure said. “I was really happy the way the race panned out. He kind of threw a clunker last week [and] was back to normal tonight, which you expect them to be with Murray Brethour. He’s going into the Super Final in great form.”
Griff won for the third time from six starts and has now earned $155,700 for owners Jeff Thomson, Lori Thomson, Murray Brethour and Kyle Northover. The gelding by Muscle Mass paid $4 to win.
A late break in stride by 1/5 favourite Willowtime teed up Myretirementdream to rally off the pocket trip and land an 8-1 upset in the second OSS Gold split for freshman trotting colts and geldings.
Willowtime rolled between horses for the lead until Soar Higher broke stride the first turn, and the favourite soon took the lead from pylon-starter Myretirementdream by a :27.3 first quarter. He continued on the fore through a :57 half and cruised through the final to click by three-quarters in 1:26.3. But Willowtime jumped stride when spinning for home, creating a seam for a headstrong Myretirementdream to burst through and take the lead from a first-over What About Elmo to the finish. Myretirementdream grabbed a three-length victory in 1:55 from What About Elmo with Willowtime recovering stride and taking third from R Peaky Blinders fourth.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had him on a helmet, but he sat in there great,” winning driver Jody Jamieson said. “And I had to turn him on a little bit in the stretch leaving because I didn’t want to sit third – I didn’t think anybody was going to be looking for me to come back around in a second-quarter move, so I wanted to make sure I was either on the lead or in the two hole. And then we just got lucky. I think Willowtime was the class of the field and was probably going to run off, but that was unfortunate for them and lucky for us.”
Myretirementdream has now won three races from seven starts and accrued $160,561 in earnings for owner-trainer Eli Wagler. The colt by Il Sogno Dream paid $19.40 to win.
Points leaders in the OSS Gold are now readying for their big dance with the Super Finals set to go on Friday, Oct. 13 for the freshmen and Saturday, Oct. 14 for the sophomores. Woodbine Mohawk Park will host three final-preliminary events for the OSS Gold with sophomore trotting colts and fillies in competition on Monday, Oct. 2 and sophomore pacing colts in action on Thursday, Oct. 5.
RAY COTOLO FOR WOODBINE COMMUNICATIONS