MILTON, ON—A force to reckon on the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots circuit last season, Rene Dion trainee Shower Play makes her Grand Circuit debut Saturday, June 16 in the $415,000 Fan Hanover Final on the Pepsi North America Cup undercard at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Owned by Rene Dion along with partners Susie Kerwood and Martin Leveillee, the three-year-old filly by Shadow Play from the Bettors Delight mare Alice Emily has made only seven starts in her career, with five coming from an abbreviated freshman campaign resulting in three wins and two seconds.
“We staked her a little bit in Ontario,” co-owner Kerwood said. “As a two-year-old—she was a $15,000 yearling [and] even though we liked her a lot, we just put her in a few stakes. Sometimes when you put them in a lot of stakes, you want to try to make them and they aren’t quite ready for it. We staked her conservatively and said ‘if she’s good enough, she’s going to make the money anyway.’”
Shower Play, earning $54,962 in her career, capped her two-year-old season on Sept. 1 with a 10-length victory in a division of the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series in 1:53. She scratched sick from her next start on Sept. 18 and went away until her three-year-old season.
“We just had viruses going through the barn and with two-year-olds you can treat them all you want, but sometimes you race them and they don’t come back well,” said Kerwood. “We just thought highly enough of her to shut her down and start her up next year.”
Training in Quebec over the winter, poor weather and track conditions delayed Shower Play’s three-year-old debut. Not wanting to “train her for the sake of training her because the track wasn’t good or the weather wasn’t allowing it,” Kerwood said Shower Play has returned to the races just a little bigger.
“She always was very strong, but she’s more mature looking. She’s a big, absolutely beautiful—she’s a stunning filly. She’s got a very nice size to her. She was maybe a little babyish last year, but this year I find that she’s just bigger and more rugged.”
Shower Play returned to the track May 25 with a 1:56.2 qualifying effort at Woodbine Mohawk Park and won six days later in her first pari-mutual start of the year with an off-the-pace 1:52.2 performance.
“I wasn’t really sure how much she was up to [in her debut],” Kerwood said. “The one thing about her is that she’s tough. I think when she’s within striking position, she’s the type of filly that gives all she’s got.
I’m not going to say I was surprised when she did what she did, [but] it was a good effort. [Louis-Philippe Roy] loved her and that’s half the battle right there.”
Her following start was the elimination for the Fan Hanover, drawing against world champion Youaremycandygirl as well as local stars Percy Bluechip and Kendall Seelster.
“Usually what we do [is] we take it one race at a time, and the way she raced [in her debut], we weren’t sure how many fillies were actually going to be in the Fan Hanover so we kind of just took a gamble and put her in,” Kerwood said. “We maybe would have liked to have another start in her before the Fan but it just didn’t work out that way.”
Sitting off a swift pace set by Youaremycandygirl and Ubettorgo Go, Shower Play stormed from last to finish second to Kissin In The Sand in a dead heat with Im Trigger Happy
“Going into it I was like ‘Oh boy, she drew into the tough division, but I think she can qualify,’” Kerwood said. “Nothing surprises me about her because she is such a nice, strong filly, [but] how fast she is I don’t know. I wasn’t really surprised—she raced so tough; you look in the program, it looked like we were racing in the final. I was really pleased with how well she finished up.”
Louis-Philippe Roy will drive Shower Play, listed at 8-1 on the morning line, from post-four.
Kissin In The Sand, off a 1:51.1 victory in the elimination, goes from post-three as the 5-2 morning-line favourite for trainer Nancy Johansson.
“There’re a lot of good fillies in the race, [and] I’m just hoping we’re going to get a nice trip,” Kerwood said. “I think whoever ends up getting the trip is going to win the race. But we’re hoping to get a nice trip and to be somewhat close at the top of the stretch, and if she kicks like she can be, I think she can be close.”
By Ray Coloto for Woodbine.com