TORONTO, August 7, 2021 – The Ontario Sire Heritage Series launched Saturday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack with Artful Ballerina capturing the $80,000 Georgian Bay Stakes.
The five-furlong Inner Turf event is part of the Ontario Sire Heritage Series, a new eight-leg stakes series open to Ontario Sired 3-year-olds, to be contested at Woodbine and Fort Erie racetracks.
Ontario Racing and its Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) Committee unveiled the series in March. With a total purse structure of $750,000, the Heritage Series will feature a total of four races – three opening legs and one final – for both 3-year-old colts and 3-year-old fillies that are sustained to the Ontario Sires Stakes program.
The Georgian Bay Stakes for fillies saw Artful Ballerina noticeably checked up and lost ground on the field before recovering and impressively charged up a wide-open rail for jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson. The William Sorokolit and Vandyk Sunny Stables homebred is trained by Darwin Banach.
“She just lost her hind end a touch,” said Wilson post-race. “I thought somebody maybe clipped her heels, maybe she just cross-fired a little. Young horses, still learning, this Inner Turf is unique and challenging on any given day and going five-eighths first time on it and we were tight to the rail and maybe she just didn’t quite take the turn…she just lost all momentum.
“When she got her legs under her, I snapped her on the shoulder and just picked her back up into my hands and she was there. She’s run on every time she’s run, but when she re-rallied and quickened it was like we were shot out of a cannon.”
The early battle in the five-furlong sprint saw Benny’s Button and Humble Beginnings duel through a :22.02 quarter-mile, before the pair led the group of six into the lane. Artful Ballerina was fifth at the head of the lane before rocketing by rivals to win by two lengths.
Meet The Soprano rallied for second, while Sunsprite was third and Benny’s Button dropped back to finish fourth. The final time was :56.96.
A daughter of Town Prize, Artful Ballerina had finished second in each of her first two career starts prior to Saturday’s maiden-breaking score. A $2 win ticket returned $14.30.