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an Downs kicked off its 2018 Ontario Sires Stakes season with three $18,450 Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old trotting fillies on Saturday, July 14.

Teddys Littleangel recorded the quickest mile of the three Grassroots divisions, stopping the teletimer in 2:00.3.

Starting from post seven, driver Paul Mackenzie settled the Archangel daughter in second through the early going and then moved her to the front heading for the three-quarters. From there it was smooth sailing and Teddys Littleangel trotted home a four-and-three-quarter length winner. Galaxy Seelster, in rein to Stephen Byron, finished second and fan favourite Miss Congeniality finished third.

Ted MacDonnell trains Teddys Littleangel for owner-breeder Leonard Gamble. MacDonnell was relieved to see the filly deliver a strong effort in her career debut.

“She’s always been a nice filly training down, what I wasn’t anticipating was her to be bad in her baby races,” MacDonnell said, referring to the trio of breaks Teddys Littleangel made in her June 22 and 29 and July 6 qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park. “It kind of caught me off guard, because she’d been pretty professional up until that point.”

The filly rebounded with a solid effort in a fourth qualifying attempt on July 10 and MacDonnell is hoping Saturday’s victory will set her up for success through the rest of the season.

“We added a screen to her, but that’s basically it. It was just more her taking a couple extra baby steps on me that took a while to get figured out, but we really didn’t do a lot different,” MacDonnell said. “She’s always been one that’s been a little bit aggressive. I knew it was always there so we’ve tried to be pretty careful with her, but hopefully we’ll get a few races in her here and she’ll behave herself and be fine, because she’s always had a nice bit of go.”

Angel Status won the first division with a game effort from Post 7. Reaching the front just before the :30.1 quarter, Angel Status and driver Ryan Holliday led the field of seven to the 1:01.3 half and then faced pressure from Cadence Seelster, who had a slight lead at the 1:32 three-quarters.

As the fillies turned for home, Cadence Seelster remained in front, but Angel Status dug deep and regained a three-quarter length advantage by the wire. Cadence Seelster settled for second in the 2:03.2 mile and fan favourite Nifty Trick was third.

“I didn’t really plan on cutting it when I came up here, but you can’t have too many plans with two-year-old trotting fillies. Knock on wood, she’s pretty sure footed, so I thought we’d maybe take advantage of that,” said Ryan Holliday. “She was parked past the quarter, and I mean she didn’t want a whole lot more on the end, but neither did the rest of them, and she fought the one off that came up beside her so that was the important thing. Overall, I was very satisfied.”

Holliday drives Angel Status for his father, trainer David Holliday, and wife Caroline Holliday of Mount Forest, who shares ownership of the Archangel filly with Dennis Hannath. Hannath and the Holliday’s acquired Angel Status at last fall’s London Selected Yearling Sale for $11,000 and recouped $9,225 with Saturday’s victory.

“She’s not a world beater, but she’s a nice steady, honest little racehorse I think, and that’s kind of how she trained down,” Holliday said. “She hasn’t flashed a whole lot of speed yet, but she’s done what’s been asked of her. I guess that’s all she needs to do right now. We were quite happy with her performance. Hopefully she can rebound in ten days or so.”

Angel Status and her Grassroots peers will make their second Ontario Sires Stakes start on July 24 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Eramosa Magic captured the second division with a gate-to-wire effort from post one, reaching the finish three-and-one-half lengths ahead of the field in 2:00.3. Order Mattie finished second and Magically Hip was third.

Tyler Moore piloted Eramosa Magic to the win for trainer John Kopas and his partners 2 Johns Stable of Rockwood, Grieve Stables of Union and Avery Goodbadexample Stable of Toronto, Ontario. The Holiday Road daughter, a $21,000 purchase from the London Selected Yearling Sale, now has one win and one fourth to her credit through two lifetime starts.

The two-year-old trotting filly Grassroots event was just the first in a week-long showcase of Ontario Sires Stakes events at Georgian Downs. On Sunday, July 15, the Innisfil oval will roll out the red carpet for the Gold level two-year-old trotting fillies, who will battle for a total of $200,000 in Races 4, 7 and 9 on the 6 p.m. program.

(With files from the Ontario Sires Stakes)