Plus, Bruce Richardson on Grand River Raceway as Opening Night approaches for the Elora, ON track.
by Sandra Snyder | Sponsored by Ontario Racing
With a full lineup of stakes to complement the $157,000 Camluck Classic, tonight’s program will be a fitting finale to The Raceway at Western Fair District’s meet.
Seven Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Grassroots divisions for the 3-year-old pacing fillies and four City of London Series Finals will prime fans for the main event, which goes postward as Race 12. Driver Jody Jamieson will steer nine horses on the program, capping off the night with Sintra in the Camluck Classic.
“Just getting to race Sintra on the weekend is such an honor. He’s such a class act,” said Jamieson, who will send the 6-year-old gelding after the 2019 Camluck Classic title from Post 5. “He’s got the track record for 3-year-olds and I’m hoping that he likes his return to London.”
Sintra toured the London half-mile in 1:52.4 to win an OSS Gold Series division on the 2016 edition of what was then called Molson Pace night. The Mach Three—Dancin Barefoot son heads into tonight’s test in top form, winning a pair of preferred class events at Woodbine Mohawk Park on April 27 and May 4 before getting nabbed by Horse of the Year McWicked in the stretch on May 18.
Jamieson, who steers the gelding for his wife, trainer Stephanie Jamieson, and owners Michael Guerriero, Kelly Waxman, Nunzio Vena and Frank Cirillo, will have plenty of practice mapping out trips from the center of The Raceway’s starting gate before he steps into Sintra’s race bike on Friday. Of his nine drives, four will see him line up at Post 5, two at Post 3, one at Post 4 and one at Post 6. His lone rail sitter is Blackcheddar in the fifth $22,450 Grassroots event.
“We own and train Blackcheddar, and we also bred her,” said the reinsman. “She’s the first horse of that distinction that we’ll race in any kind of stake race, so we’re excited about her.”
Unraced at two, Blackcheddar has two races to her credit heading into her provincial debut, a 1:57 win over the Flamboro Downs half-mile on May 11 and a runner-up effort at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 20. The filly is a Betterthancheddar daughter out of Lone Mystic, a full sister to $1.9 million winner Mystician who carried Jamieson to victory in the 2010 Metro Pace.
All of tonight’s action gets underway at 6:55 pm with the Grassroots fillies competing in Races 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, the City of London finals slated as Races 1, 3, 7, and 11, and the Camluck Classic going postward in Race 12.
Grand River Raceway set to open June 5
The last in the springtime wave of Ontario racetrack openings is Grand River Raceway, which will kick off its 16th season on Wednesday, June 5.
“We’re excited obviously. The dining room is sold out already many nights,” said director of operations Jamie Martin. “We’ve got our major events, same as the last few years. We have, of course, our Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles scheduled for the same time (Aug. 5) and our Wiener Dog night is July 5.”
Martin notes that regular visitors to the Elora, ON oval will notice a few changes this season. There will be ongoing construction throughout the meet as the Elements Casino facility expands, including the loss of the main-floor simulcast area. Once the meet wraps up on Sept. 27, the racetrack will proceed with an expansion of its popular Lighthouse restaurant to create a new space for simulcast horse racing customers.
The other change fans will notice is the absence of long-time marketing manager and Tarmac Show host Kelly Spencer, who left the racetrack in January to develop her own communications agency.
“It won’t be the same because there’s only one Kelly, but we are going to still endeavour to keep it lots of fun,” said Martin. “We like to think we’ve got the same exciting, fun schedule of events here and we’re looking forward to starting up.”
Trainer/driver Bruce Richardson is one of the local horsepeople that Grand River Raceway staff members have leaned on to help out during their fun-filled events and the Fergus, ON resident is also looking forward to the track’s opening day.
“I only live seven minutes away from the track, so rather than driving to London or Flamboro, I am there in minutes,” said Richardson. “And they get a good crowd usually, and through sports I know a lot of people, so you see quite a few people there that you know.
“Until you do bad, and then they let you know it,” he added with a laugh. “Once they lose their five dollars they’re not friends with me anymore, it seems like.”
Richardson, who started his career in 1990, has 3,452 wins and $21 million in earnings as a driver and 519 wins and $2.8 million in earnings as a trainer. With just two horses in training at present, he will spend this summer padding the former stats rather than the latter.
“I’ve always done both. I guess we had as many as maybe 10 horses at one time, but I’ve always tried to keep it between six and eight, six and 10, but I’ve slowed down a little bit now,” he said. “I had four, and I’m down to two right now. I bred Stormont Kate, the good mare. We just retired her this month.”
A winner of $333,963 for Richardson in her seven-year racing career, Stormont Kate (Kadabra – Princess Stormont) was bred to Royalty For Life and the horseman is looking forward to developing her foal for the 2022 Ontario Sires Stakes. This summer he will campaign 3-year-old trotter King For Life (Royalty For Life – Samartina) and the gelding’s Kadabra half-sister Kads Kiss.
“We usually try to buy a yearling every year and keep them as a 2-, 3-, 4-year-old, and then move them on and start over again,” said Richardson, who has always had a penchant for trotters. “That’s kind of what I’ve been trying to do.”
King For Life will make his OSS debut in the Grassroots on Grand River Raceway’s opening day and Richardson and his partners Peter Irwin and Joseph Coffey are hoping the trotter evolves into a regular on the provincial circuit.
With regular appearances at Grand River Raceway’s Monday, Wednesday and Friday night programs and Hanover Raceway’s Saturday night cards, along with semi-regular drives in Ontario Sires Stakes events across the province, the summer season is Richardson’s busiest. Always circled on his calendar, however, is the annual Industry Day celebration at Grand River Raceway, which features the Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles Finals and goes postward at 12:30 pm on Civic Holiday Monday (Aug. 5). Post time for Grand River Raceway’s other 47 programs is 6:30 pm.
With the Grand River Raceway dining room regularly sold out on race nights, Richardson suggests the Gorge Country Kitchen, located almost directly across Wellington County Road 7.
“The Gorge restaurant is right almost across from the racetrack, it’s very good. I eat there, not on a regular basis, but a handful of times a year guaranteed,” said Richardson.
The trainer also suggests that visitors take in the Elora Gorge, which offers camping, scenic vistas, hiking and biking trails, and trips down the Grand River on a tube.
Elora is located approximately 45 minutes northwest of Woodbine Mohawk Park and 35 minutes north of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON.
Stakes action May 31 to June 6
May 31 – The Raceway at the Western Fair District – Camluck Classic, OSS Grassroots (3fp), City of London Finals
June 1 – Woodbine Mohawk Park – Somebeachsomewhere, Graduate Series, OSS Gold Series (3fp)
June 3 – Woodbine Mohawk Park – OSS Gold Series (3ft)
June 4 – Woodbine Mohawk Park – OSS Grassroots (3ft)
June 5 – Grand River Raceway – OSS Grassroots (3ct)
Ontario handicapping picks
A deep selection of handicapping picks for Ontario racetracks — featuring the talents of Garnet Barnsdale, Michael Bozich and Michael Carter — is available on the Ontario Racing website at: https://ontarioracing.com/Learn-To-Bet/Bettors-Corner.