CAMPBELLVILLE, August 28 – Rookie trotting fillies will be in the spotlight Thursday evening (August 31) to kick off Grand Circuit week at Mohawk Racetrack.
The $173,880 Champlain Stakes for two-year-old trotting fillies has attracted 18 entrants, who have been split into two nine-horse divisions.
Thursday’s Grand Circuit event begins a stretch of cards featuring the Champlain and Simcoe Stakes. Both events date back to the early 1960’s and have long attracted the finest horses, trainers and drivers to the Woodbine Entertainment circuit.
Fresh off an exciting victory in the Pure Ivory Series on August 21, Courtney Hanover (PP3) will look to carry that momentum over to Thursday’s first Champlain Stakes division for trainer/driver Rick Zeron.
The daughter of Cantab Hall has taken a liking to her home-track with back to back victories at Mohawk after a pair of hiccups in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes action back in July.
Courtney Hanover, who was a $47,000 yearling buy at Harrisburg, is two for five with $28,100 earned for owners Rick Zeron Stables, Paul Marion, Bruno Dipoce and Howard Taylor. She established her current mark of 1:56.2 in winning the Pure Ivory by a nose.
The opening division also features Ontario Sires Stakes Gold winner Smoke And Mirrors (PP6, Trevor Henry).
The Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman trained filly is two for four with $74,752 earned coming into the Champlain. An $85,000 yearling purchase at Harrisburg, Smoke And Mirrors is owned by Mel Hartman, David McDuffee and Little E LLC.
Another OSS standout leads the way in the second division, as Jonas Czernyson trainee Apprentice M (PP2, Doug McNair) is coming in hot to Thursday’s Grand Circuit event.
The daughter of Kadabra won an OSS Gold on August 18 at Mohawk to give her a win and two runner-up finishes in three career starts.
Apprentice M, who is a half-sister to millionaire trotting mare Charmed Life, has quickly banked $74,850 for owner Menhammer Stuteri Ab. The Kadabra filly was an $85,000 buy at last October’s Lexington Select Sale.
A pair of fillies with famous mommas will also compete in the second Champlain division.
Ciao Dolce (PP5, Chris Christoforou) is the ninth foal out of Pizza Dolce, while Swing It Cathy (PP8, Yannick Gingras) is the seventh foal out of Solveig.
Pizza Dolce (1:52.4 – $668,224) and Solveig (1:54.4 – $930,132) each had strong careers on the racetrack, but both have arguably made an even bigger impact as broodmares.
Pizza Dolce’s foals have included Miss Paris (12 for 30, $869,932) and Bella Dolce (15 for 29, $753,133). Solveig’s foals are led by the great Shake It Cerry (29 for 62, $2.8 million) and Uncle Lasse (9 for 29, $971,071)
Ciao Dolce, a daughter of Credit Winner, was a $300,000 purchase at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. The Per Henriksen trainee is making her second lifetime start on Thursday after finishing third in her debut on August 22. She is owned by Kjell Magne Anderson of Switzerland.
Swing It Cathy, a homebred full-sister to Solveig’s most famous foals, will be looking to break her maiden for Christina Takter and Solveigs Racing Partners. The Jimmy Takter trainee has hit the board in three of four starts and does have a mark of 1:57.2, taken in a qualifier on July 8.
The Champlain Stakes are carded as Races 3 and 6 on Thursday’s 10-race program.
Champlain action will continue on Friday evening with two-year-old trotting colts and geldings taking their turn. Saturday’s Canadian Pacing Derby card will also feature the Champlain Stakes for two-year-old pacers.
Post time Thursday, Friday and Saturday is 7:30 p.m.
Here are the fields for Thursday’s Champlain Stakes
Race 3 – Division 1
1. Northern Lightning (Paul MacDonell/Scott McEneny)
2. Illusioneesta (Chris Christoforou/Per Henriksen)
3. Courtney Hanover (Rick Zeron/Rick Zeron)
4. Yokomotion (Steve Byron/John Bax)
5. Blonde Magic (Tom Durand/Tom Durand)
6. Smoke And Mirrors (Trevor Henry/Nifty Norman)
7. Wish I Was There (Steve Condren/Clark Beelby)
8. Miss Mimi (Paul MacDonell/John Bax)
9. Bella Glos (Yannick Gingras/Jimmy Takter)
Race 6 – Division 2
1. Jordan Blue Chip (Paul MacDonell/Mike Keeling)
2. Apprentice M (Doug McNair/Jonas Czernyson)
3. One Fine Lady (Doug McNair/Aaron Lambert)
4. Atlanta (Rick Zeron/Rick Zeron)
5. Ciao Dolce (Chris Christoforou/Per Henriksen)
6. Alloveragain (Randy Waples/John Bax)
7. Asa Ready To Glide (Chris Christoforou/Ann Karin Larsen)
8. Swing It Cathy (Yannick Gingras/Jimmy Takter)
9. Shamrock Shaker (Scott Zeron/Rick Zeron)