Anthony MacDonald high on Next Gen starters

The $150,000 Next Generation series kicks off the 2-year-old stakes season in Ohio.

by Jay Wolf

Anthony MacDonald, patriarch of the fractional ownership group, is excited for the start of the Ohio 2-year-old stakes season and Saturday night’s (July 6) Next Generation events at Eldorado Scioto Downs.

For MacDonald, the easiest part was securing the four entries into the $150,000 events, the harder part was the selection of which Ohio-bred colt or filly would represent

When the post position draws were released on Tuesday (July 2), MacDonald had some trepidation – posts 4, 6, 8 and 9.

“I wish we would have drawn a little better, that is for sure,” said MacDonald. “What are you going to do? That is the nature of the beast. There is not much you can do about that.”

Interestingly, the outside posts (5 through 9) have won nine of the previous 14 Next Gen events. Posts 1 and 2 have been winless despite their perceived advantage.

“That makes me feel a little better,” said MacDonald, who won the 2022 edition of the Next Generation for 2-year-old filly trotters with Swinging Senorita from post 5. will be represented by Gorgeous Package in the 2-year-old filly pace.

The Lather Up lass overcame a wide first quarter and bolting in the final turn to score a 1:58.2 victory in her first, and only, seasonal start on June 26 at MGM Northfield Park.

“She trained down with a Murphy blind on the left and we took if off and added a head pole instead, MacDonald said. “She saw something and bolted to the right. To her credit, she was very quick to gather herself back up and she paced strong through the wire. I like her determination and work ethic. She is no slouch, but obviously the 8-hole is a concern.”

Gorgeous Package was purchased by last summer through the online platform OnGait for less than $5,000.

“She wasn’t the best training down, but she kept getting better and better,” said MacDonald.

In the freshman filly trot, MacDonald will pilot Aunt Lilly, who won her season debut on June 22 at The Meadows.

After a winning qualifier over a sloppy Northfield surface on June 2, MacDonald and trainer Jason McGinnis took their time prepping this one.

“We were not in a big hurry to pile a bunch of starts on her,” said MacDonald. “It’s nice to talk about the Next Generation, but there is an entire racing year that starts immediately following the Next Generation.”

The Uncle Peter filly won her only start by a length in 1:58.4, the last half-mile in :58.2.

“I think very highly of Aunt Lilly,” said MacDonald. “She has the breeding. Her sister [Sierra Girl] was by far the best trotter in Pennsylvania last year.

“She was a horse that we definitely wanted and we paid pretty good money for her [$65,000 at the Ohio Select Sale], but she has lived up to her billing. She worked hard at her craft all winter long and it started to pay dividends in May. Aunt Lilly is a gigantic filly. She is a big, big girl and really fast.”

Hutchison Harness shares ownership in Aunt Lilly.

Race 9 will be the freshman colt pace and will see MacDonald behind Rose Run Ajay, a $25,000 yearling purchase.

The Dancin Yankee was second, beaten by just three-quarters-of-a-length, in a pop-up series at The Meadows on June 28.

“Realistically, I just wanted to get a good mile in him,” said MacDonald. “He showed how fast he is. The last half :55, the last quarter was :27.2. He’s no joke. He’s a fast colt, a big strong pacer.

“He has to overcome a pretty tough spot [post 9], but the fact that outside posts have done so well in this race is there is a lot of speed and a lot of movement in these races. So, it can play into someone coming off the pace.”

Wrapping up the Next Generation will be the 2-year-old colt trot and entry of Cadeau.

The gelding from the first crop of Marseille was hammered down last fall for $21,000 at the Ohio Select Sale to and Hutchison Harness.

“I generally don’t pick a yearling by their video, but this guy’s video was so impressive and he caught my eye and attention right away,” said MacDonald. “He was a little smaller than I thought, but I just couldn’t get away from him.

“He didn’t have the greatest season training down, made a lot of breaks, made a lot of mistakes. When we started feeding him some speed, he put everything together.”

He was a fast closing third in his only parimutuel start on June 28 at The Meadows. He was beaten by a narrowing neck in 2:02.

“He wasn’t on my radar for this race,” said MacDonald. “His qualifier two weeks ago was great [a win in 2:00] and his race the other day was impressive. He showed some versatility. I don’t think speed is going to be a problem for this one. He’s small but a tough little bugger.”

The undercard for the Next Generation includes the $100,000 Nadia Lobell (3-year-old filly pace), the $100,000 Moni Maker (3-year-old filly trot), the $100,000 Ohio Sire Stakes (3-year-old colt trot) and the $130,000 Ohio Sire Stakes (3-year-old colt pace).

The 15-race card, with total purses near $1.2 million, will go to post at 5:45 p.m.