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Young trotters impress in Champlain

September 14, 2023

MILTON, September 14, 2023 – Rookie trotters had the spotlight Thursday night for the Champlain Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

A pair of two-year-old trotting filly divisions and a single contest for colts and geldings were contested.

Willowtime improved to a perfect three for three with a 1:54.4 victory in the $180,800 Champlain for two-year-old trotters.

Trained by Mark Etsell, Willowtime left out for the early lead to post a :27.3 opening-split and :57.4 half for driver Bob McClure. Soar Higher moved up to the lead entering the far turn and carried it down to three-quarters in 1:26.2 with Willowtime coming back out to be within half a length.

In the stretch, Willowtime would overtake Soar Higher and battle home to a length victory over Soar Higher. Top Mast split through for third, while Jack N Abs was fourth.

“Mark (Etsell) really wants him raced off a helmet, he thinks it’s his best trip and it worked out last week following (Soar Higher),” said McClure. “We were going for $180,000 and when (Soar Higher) cleared I didn’t think he looked like he had as much go as last week and Trevor (Henry) was coming quick, so I figured I’d give him the racetrack and at least take a shot at it.”

A son of Lookslikeachpndale, Willowtime now has $193,950 earned for owners Etsell, Terry Devos and Peter Porter. All three of his victories have come in stakes competition, two in Sires Stakes and now a Grand Circuit event.

Willowtime paid $3.60 to win.

The landscape of the first Champlain Filly Trot division changed dramatically prior to the race, as Peaceful Way winner Drawn Impression was scratched sick.

With the door now wide open, Valuable Miss and Trevor Henry were able to strike for a 24/1 upset in 1:55.2.

Tactical Strike opened the mile with a :28.2 first-quarter before Cool Ma Belle would clear to the lead and reach the half in :57.4. The new leader would get company immediately, as Valuable Miss was moved out from sixth and came attacking the top spot, sitting side by side with Cool Ma Belle at three-quarters in 1:27.1.

In the stretch, Valuable Miss would power home strongly to defeat Cool Ma Belle by a length and a half. Tactical Strike finished third, while Draw The Line was fourth.

A daughter of My Mvp, Valuable Miss now has two wins in seven starts for co-owner and trainer Kyle Bossence.

“Early on she was a little bit of a difficult filly,” said Bossence of Valuable Miss. “Halfway through the winter and training her down I knew she had some go, she just had a little bit of a mind of her own.

“As we were getting into qualifying, I was really hoping Trevor (Henry) would stick with her all year because I knew if someone would stick with her, she would get better and better. She just had a few quirks to work out of her and Trevor is doing a great job with her.”

Valuable Miss now has two wins in seven starts and $97,067 earned for Bossence and William Pendleton. She paid $50.90 to win.

With Determination’s star Drawn Impression scratched in the first division, their second division starter Emoji Hanover Emoji Hanover turn in a stunning final-quarter effort to win in 1:54.2 for driver Louis-Philippe Roy and trainer Luc Blais.

Heavy-favourite Willys Home Run went out to the lead and did the roadwork, posting fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:25.1. Meanwhile, Emoji Hanover and Roy sat back in fourth, several lengths off the lead throughout.

In the stretch, Willys Home Run was unable to close out the victory, as Cold Snaps went by off the two-hole trip. However, Emoji Hanover had more than anyone to offer, storming home in :27.4 to sweep by for a length and a half victory. Cold Snaps was second, while Willys Home Run settled for third.

Owned by Determination, Emoji Hanover had a win in two starts prior to the jump to Grand Circuit competition on Thursday. Emoji Hanover is a daughter of Greenshoe, out of the Ontario star mare Emmylou Who, making her a half-sister to superstar Emoticon Hanover.

“The main concern I had is she’s still green,” said Roy about Emoji Hanover. “I was just more concerned that I felt she needed a little more experience because some of the fillies already had five or six starts.

“I knew I was far, but with those fractions it was either Willys Home Run would go a crazy mile or my filly would have a great shot. They’re still two-year-old trotting fillies and it’s hard to keep that speed for a whole mile. I think the trip worked good.”

Emoji Hanover now has $58,000 earned. She paid $16.50 to win.

Live racing continues Friday evening at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time is 7:10 p.m.

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