TORONTO, February 3 – A pair of Winter Series finals for three and four-year-old pacers headlined Friday evening’s 10-race card at chilly Woodbine Racetrack.
The $39,400 Snowshoe Series final featured a field of seven, while a group of ten fillies and mares competed in the $37,600 Blizzard Series final.
Awesomeness lived up to his name by completing a dominant sweep of the Snowshoe Series Friday.
The Ryan Maxwell trainee was fired off the wings of the gate by driver Doug McNair, but had to take a step back and sit second rounding the first turn, as Lyons Sands, who was also going for a sweep of the series, sprinted to the lead.
Lyons Sands posted an opening-quarter of :27.2, but was quickly knocked back to second when McNair circled around to the lead with Awesomeness entering the backstretch.
Awesomeness, who went off at odds of 1/9, posted middle-half fractions of :56.3 and 1:25. A stretch duel between the two red-hot pacers seemed likely, but Awesomeness quickly put those dreams to bed by pulling away from Lyons Sands at the top of the lane.
Awesomeness powered home in :28 to win by five-lengths in 1:53. Lyons Sands held on for second, while Big Yellow was third and Clouseau Hanover was fourth.
A four-year-old gelding, Awesomeness has quickly gained notoriety this winter by turning in stunning efforts regularly.
The son of Mach Three made the first start of his career on October 4th at Mohawk, for then-trainer Dave Keyes, and finished seventh. Since his debut, Awesomeness has won eight of 13 starts and has never finished worse than second.
Purchased privately in November by Martin Scharf, Awesomeness has banked $41,700 this season to bring his career earnings total to $104,300.
A $2 win ticket on Awesomeness Friday returned $2.30.
The Blizzard Series final was the opposite of the Snowshoe, as the pace-setter couldn’t hold on late and a longshot stole the spotlight.
Xelene Bayama held her own in preliminary round action, but picked the perfect time to step up and strike in Friday’s $37,600 Blizzard final.
Driven by Rick Zeron, Xelene Bayama got away seventh, as Jimbelina paced out to the lead and posted hot opening fractions of :26.4 and :55.2. An outer-flow was established early by the favourite I Deal In Kisses heading down the backstretch and this allowed Zeron to jump into a third-over spot heading towards the far turn.
Jimbelina, who was 2-1, kept motoring around the far turn and reached the three-quarter pole in 1:24.3. The outer-flow stopped advancing on the final bend and Zeron was forced to go three-wide to stay within striking range of the leader.
In the stretch, Jimbelina attempted to muscle out the victory, but Xelene Bayama was full of pace and charged by the leader in the final-sixteenth to win by a length and three-quarters in 1:54.3. Jimbelina just held on for second over Senseless Beauty, while Collective Wisdom was fourth.
A four-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight, Xelene Bayama entered Friday’s series finale off a fourth and third-place effort in the preliminary legs. The Stephane Larocque trainee had just a single victory in eight career starts before Friday.
Owned by Bayama Farms Inc. and Zoom And Fish Stable Inc., Xelene Bayama earned $18,880 for her Blizzard Series victory, which brings her career earnings total to $31,235.
Xelene Bayama paid $47.50 to win.
Three and four-year-old pacers, who were non-winners of two-races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2016, were eligible for nomination to the Snowshoe and Blizzard Series.
Also on Friday, Sandbetweenurtoes stretched her current win streak to three with a front-end score in the $30,000 Mares Preferred.
The Richard Moreau trainee was sent to the front by driver Doug McNair and the duo never looked back en route to a 1:52.3 score. Sandbetweenurtoes has now won the last three editions of the top-level event for pacing mares.
Owned by Brad Grant, Sandbetweenurtoes has three wins in four starts this season for earnings of $52,500. Her career totals now sit at 24 victories and $832,722 earned after Friday’s triumph.
Live racing continues Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack with a 10-race card on deck. Post time is 7:30 p.m.