With three C$30,000 divisions drawn for Friday’s 12-race program, the young driver will guide one of his father Gregg’s trainees, Synergy Seelster, and the Joe Pereira-trained Whirlwind.
Synergy Seelster is fresh off a third-place finish in the HorsePlayer Interactive (HPI) Series final, a result that left McNair somewhat disappointed.
“She did race well, but I thought she’d mow down the leader,” he said. “They went a pretty big quarter, then we ended up following the horse I wanted to follow (Jamaica Hanover). We had pretty good cover, but the cover got weak just before we got around the last turn, so we had to go three-wide a little bit early. But she should have fired home a little bit better than she did.”
The 22-year-old reinsman is looking for a better outcome this time around. He feels that if the 4-year-old lass is sharp, she will be a top contender in the Damsel Series.
The seven-time career winner has had a solid start to her aged campaign with a record of 2-1-1 in six outings, banking $41,145 in seasonal earnings for owners Lindsey and Connie Rankin of Lexington, Mich.
The mare also recently took a new lifetime mark. On Feb. 3, Synergy Seelster stopped the teletimer in 1:52.1 to win the opening round of the HPI Series at the Toronto oval.
“‘Synergy’ has really surprised us the last month and a half,” said McNair. “She has been a very nice mare for us this winter.”
Although McNair says the daughter of Mach Three-Silver Seven always gives 110 percent every race, she is still quite green.
“She is kind of funny to drive,” he said. “In a race, she stops and starts all the time. Once she learns to go ahead on her own without stopping and starting, she will be that much better I think.”
But to tell if she is on her game, McNair noted to keep an eye on her in the ninth race post parade.
“I think usually you can tell sometimes in the post parade how good she can be by whether or not she is grabbing on or if she is moping out there,” the Guelph resident explained. “Usually, if she is grabbing on a lot, she is going to be pretty good.”
Synergy Seelster will leave from post six.
In race six, McNair will also be handed the reins for post five starter Whirlwind.The daughter of Royal Mattjesty-Western Whirl was claimed for $15,000 on Nov. 17, 2011, by Pereira and New York owner The Merk's Stable.
The 5-year-old mare is winless this year, but has one second-place finish and three third-place finishes with $15,389 in seasonal earnings.
According to McNair, the eight-time career winner has her work cut out for her, but could surprise.
“It is probably a pretty tough series for her, but you never know until you try them,” he said. “She is nice to drive. She is free-legged, so sometimes you just have to watch her behind the gate. She will make the odd break, other than that she is perfect to drive. She has been racing super lately, so that’s why they have given her a shot at the series.”
The C$40,000 second leg, for pacing mares that are 4- or 5-year-olds who were non-winners of C$150,000 lifetime as of midnight, Dec. 31, 2011, is scheduled for Friday (March 2), with the C$100,000 final set for Saturday (March 10).