MILTON, September 13, 2018 – Ontario-sired three-year-old pacing filly Kendall Seelster will step into the aged ranks for trainer Paul Reid to compete in an elimination for the Milton Stakes on Friday at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“For me it’s kind of a one-shot deal,” Reid said. “We raced Dancer Hall against aged horses and he did well as a four-year-old but time and time again that’s not really the case. We’ve been really lucky that we’ve had some nice horses to race, so I wouldn’t generally think that’s a good idea [to race three-year-olds against older horses].”
Traditionally, three-year-olds do not compete against older horses in stakes events. The Milton, open to three-year-old fillies and older mares, has seen sophomores contest elder rivals in the past but none in recent memory. Kendall Seelster, a daughter of Shadow Play owned by 1187422 Ontario Inc., makes the unusual move as a result of an oversight by her owners.
“That was the owner’s decision—I believe they missed the two-year-old payment on the Simcoe [and] there are limited stakes up here,” Reid said, “So they thought if she was real good they’d take a shot.”
Kendall Seelster had a strong rookie season, winning four of 11 starts including a division of the Champlain and multiple Ontario Sires Stakes. Despite going winless in her first five starts this season, the Reid trainee currently sports a solid record of five wins in 12 starts.
All but one of Kendall Seelster’s victories this season have come against older rivals. She enters the Milton elimination off a game second-place effort in the Fillies and Mares Preferred Handicap, missing the win by a neck to Pure Country.
“I’m still not 100 percent sure [she can take on older horses],” Reid said. “She put in a good showing in the Mares Preferred a couple weeks ago, so that was a little bit of a nudge. She [also] did win in :49 earlier in the year so when she’s on her game she can go.”
Kendall Seelster’s has been kept local all-season, racing mostly in the OSS. She competed against her own kind on the Grand Circuit in early June, finishing fifth in the $415,000 Fan Hanover to Shower Play.
“The company that owns her doesn’t like to race anything out of the country,” Reid said. “They basically staked her to where she races which is Mohawk. Between the [Ontario] Sires Stakes and the Grand Circuit that’s pretty much all she has anyway.
“I definitely would rather compete against three-year-old fillies than having to step up against the mares,” Reid also said. “Like I said I’m still not 100 percent sure we can do that this week but we’ll know Saturday.”
The decision to try Kendall Seelster in the Milton, according to Reid, was made more by the owners based on the potential she displayed as a two-year-old and staking to only local events.
“They’re definitely high on her,” Reid said. “She had a real good year last year and it took a little while to get her going this year and she’s proven herself as a really good three-year-old but [this] is a different level.
“It’s not usually done, but with her limited staking engagement I see they’re willingness to want to try it, but I’m still a little on the fence.”
A total of 13 mares dropped into the box for the Milton forcing two eliminations—one a field of six and the other a field of seven. Kendall Seelster starts from post six in the second elimination against six other competitors including Bettors Up, L A Delight and Agent Q.
“It’s two shorter fields [and] there have been tougher fields [in the Milton] in the past; it could work to our benefit with the way our mare can sprint home,” Reid said. “I don’t see any reason why she couldn’t make the final but then we got to regroup and see if it’s realistically worth missing a Gold if we’re not that competitive—I would skip the next Gold if she was going to race in the final.”
The other elimination drew Pure Country and Tequila Monday, two mares who have shown prominence in the aged division.
“They’re class mares: Pure Country, L A Delight—there’s a lot of class; a lot of money being made,” Reid said. “Nobody gave them that money, they earned it. They deserve respect regardless of what they’re at now.”
Despite Reid’s hesitance and caution, he still feels confident in Kendall Seelster who’s “as sharp as can be right now” per Reid.
“It’s just the competition,” Reid said. “I’d welcome racing against any of the three-year-olds; that’s no problem. It is just trying to step up to the next level a little bit ahead of schedule. It’s hard for the four-year-olds to compete at an aged level, let alone a three-year-old, so it’s not really done—and there’s a reason for it… because it’s tough.
“If [we] were to go into one of these races I’d want it to be the one she’s going into right now,” Reid also said. “They’re good mares but you just need some racing luck. She’ll hold her own, it’s just how well she holds her own will be my concern.”
Kendall Seelster’s regular driver Randy Waples will be in the sulky.
The two Milton eliminations headline Friday’s 12-race program at Woodbine Mohawk Park Friday. First-race post time is set for 7:10 p.m.
By Ray Cotolo for WoodbineMohawkPark.com