The session kicked off with a scratch-reduced field of two for Race 1. Trainer Bill Budd and driver Trevor Henry opted to ride out the conditions with millionaire Nirvana Seelster. The eight-year-old son of Camluck went to the top, cut the fractions (29, :59.2, 1:28.4), and scampered home in :27.3 for a convincing win in 1:56.2 The margin of victory was five and a half lengths. The Bruce Davey-owned gelding was returning from a well-deserved break (he last raced on February 2).
Race 6 saw the Rene Bourassa-trained and Louis Philippe-Roy-driven HP Titania Runner record her first charted line since winning her $225,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Final last fall at Mohawk. After having started from the rail, the three-year-old daughter of E L Titan found herself overland among a bunched-up group on the final turn. Roy was abler to stickhandle away from the cluster and rally the career winner of $248,650 to a two and a quarter-length win. HP Titania Runner was first under the wire in 2:02.1. The homebred of Claude Hamel (of Ayer’s Cliff, Que.) and Michel Damphousse (Louiseville, Que.) won four of her eight starts last season, and each of her wins came in the OSS.
The next dash (Race 7) saw a North America Cup eligible record a victory, as the Casie Coleman-trained and David Miller-driven Blank Canvas held on for a head win in 2:00 over a determined closer. Blank Canvas, who is a gelded son of Art Major, made a quick first-up move to the lead in the second quarter and then held a three-length advantage into the stretch. The closing Strategic Thinking (who was driven by Trevor Henry) darted inside late in the lane and made a bid for the wire. Miller and Blank Canvas were able to hold off the attack and secure a head victory. Blank Canvas won three of six starts last season and also finished second to Bronx Seelster in a division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk. Blank Canvas is owned by the West Wins Stable (Cambridge, Ont.), Robert Darrow (Dublin, OH) and A Harris Racing LLC (East Windsor, NJ).
Three-year-old Betterthancheddar filly Powerful Chris pulled an upset in Race 5, as the bay defeated the N.A. Cup-prepping Stag Party by one length in 1:55.4. Powerful Chris had ridden the pocket behind Stag Party through the fractions (:30.1, :59, 1:27.2) before pilot Mike Saftic called for pace from the John Pentland trainee. Powerful Chris had enough left to get up and overtake Stag Party in the final strides for a determined win. Pentland, of Dorchester, Ont., co-owns Powerful Chris along with Jack Darling Stables Ltd (Cambridge, Ont.) and the Syllabus Stable (Elora, Ont.). Powerful Chris was a player the OSS scene last year at two, as she recorded both grassroots and gold wins during her nine-race (4-3-0) campaign.