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fillies were in the spotlight at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday evening (July 21) with three Grassroots divisions for the sophomore lasses and five for their novice counterparts.

Trainer Jack Darling harnessed two starters, both two-year-old pacing fillies, and the Cambridge, Ont. resident made two visits to the Mohawk winner’s circle.

Darling trainee Write Me A Song captured the second freshman skirmish, sailing home three and three-quarter lengths ahead of her peers in 1:55. Breezy finished second and So Bananas was third.

The victory, engineered by Milton, Ont. resident Randy Waples, boosted Write Me A Song to the top of the two-year-old pacing filly standings, giving her a total of 75 points from one win and one second in the first two Grassroots events.

“She raced good. She was a nice filly training down, always showed lots of talent,” said Darling, who acquired Write Me A Song from last fall’s Canadian Yearling Sale for $47,000. “She’s coming along well.”

The horseman’s other winner was homebred Neon Moon, a Sportswriter daughter out of his former race mare Beach Of A Time. Like her stablemate, Neon Moon took command before the halfway marker and was never challenged, cruising under the wire two and three-quarter lengths ahead of Ashlees Sport and Voulez Hanover in 1:54.1.

Friday’s test was Neon Moon’s first; she missed the July 11 Grassroots opener after breaks in her first two qualifiers required a third attempt. Moffat, Ont. resident Jody Jamieson was in the race bike for all three qualifiers and Friday’s victory.

“The first week (June 26) she jumped a shadow, and then the next week (June 30) it was just kind of an equipment problem, but she seems nice and solid now,” said Darling of the filly’s qualifying difficulties. “You just don’t know until you see them race.”

Darling said the fillies trained together all winter — sharing both training miles and a tendency toward grabbing hold of the bit — with Write Me A Song having a slight edge on Neon Moon.

“Write Me A Song [has] just been more talented, she’s bigger and taller, and a bigger gait, so she was one you would maybe get a little higher on,” said the owner/trainer. “But this filly (Neon Moon), she’s just like a machine out there, very efficient over the ground.”

Darling’s fillies will continue to advance their education in the third freshman pacing filly Grassroots event at Grand River Raceway on August 14.

The other two-year-old Grassroots divisions were captured by first-time Ontario Sires Stakes starters Lady Bubbles, Duchess Dolly and Dry Silk Flowers, who all used late sprints to claim their victories.

In the first $19,150 division, Lady Bubbles was victorious in 1:56 for driver James MacDonald of Guelph, Ont., trainer Mark Steacy of Lansdowne, Ont., and Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Que, who also bred the daughter of Sportswriter. Favourite Shower Play was second and Hey Sweetie was third.


Shadow Play daughter Duchess Dolly captured the third division in 1:56.3 over Iveseenthefuture and favourite Campassion. Jonathan Drury of Guelph, Ont. crafted the victory for trainer Jim Wellwood of Ancaster, Ont., and owner Jeff Wellwood of Toronto.


Dry Silk Flowers sprinted home to a 1:55 victory over favourite Love Kills and Rendezvous Hanover. After finishing third in the first three freshman Grassroots divisions, Trevor Henry of Arthur, Ont. piloted the chestnut daughter of Vintage Master to the win for trainer Paul Reid and owner Robert Key of Leechburg, Pennsylvania.

In the three-year-old pacing filly divisions, Manhattan Play took sole control of top spot in the point standings with her third straight Grassroots victory. The Shadow Play daughter and driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville, Ont. controlled the tempo for the bulk of the mile and had another gear left for the stretch, pacing home to a one length victory in 1:53. Favourite Bid Writer was second and Snappy Dresser finished third.

“She was first up the first two (Grassroots), and I thought that was going to happen tonight too, but I’m glad Jody (Jamieson with Bid Writer) let us go because that’s a long stretch,” said Cambridge resident Nicky Comegna, who conditions the filly for his father Bruno Comegna of Burlington, Ont. “She’s been real good.”

Manhattan Play made two starts at the Gold Series level during her 10-race two-year-old campaign, but the Comegnas opted to focus on the Grassroots this season when the filly developed allergies earlier in the year. Through 12 sophomore starts, Manhattan Play now boasts a record of three wins, two seconds and one third for earnings of $39,860.

The other two $18,800 Grassroots divisions went to Shewearsthepants and Diamondtoothgertie.

Favourite Shewearsthepants and driver Doug McNair of Guelph, Ont. cruised home three and one-quarter length winners in 1:53, besting Rose Run Samantha and Fading Shadow. The driver’s father, Gregg McNair, also of Guelph, conditions the Big Jim daughter for owner/breeder Anatolia Farm LLC of New Holland, Pennsylvania.

First-time Ontario Sires Stakes starter Diamondtoothgertie roared home in the last sophomore division to claim a three-length victory over Style Snapshot and P L Kahluaa. The 1:52.4 clocking was a personal best for the Sportswriter daughter, who was driven to the win by Milton, Ont. resident Sylvain Filion and is owned by trainer Sylvain Grenier of Saint-Rene, Que.

The three-year-old pacing fillies return to Grassroots action on August 5 at Hanover Raceway.

On Saturday evening, Mohawk Racetrack will showcase the top three-year-old pacers and trotters in nine Gold Series divisions worth a total of $779,200. The first race goes postward at 7:30 p.m.