Milton, ON — On Monday (June 3) the 3-year-old trotting fillies gathered at Woodbine Mohawk Park for their first Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event and fans got a look at two impressive youngsters who could be battling for divisional supremacy all summer.
In the first $79,328 division Haveoneforme, making her first start since winning the May 18 SBOA Stake final at Woodbine Mohawk Park, was sent off as the heavy favorite. Driver Paul MacDonell took advantage of the tepid :29.1 opening quarter and rolled Haveoneforme to the front from post eight and then cruised comfortably by the :57.4 half.
Last year’s division champion HP Titania Runner attempted to press Haveoneforme from the outside, but was not up to the task, going off stride before the 1:26.3 three-quarters. From there it was all smooth sailing for the fan favorite, who hit the wire a five length winner in 1:55.3. Royal Esteem finished second and Angies Luckeylady was third.
“She’s a very strong filly. Every time I’ve raced her so far she’s just trotted through the wire really strong,” MacDonell told Woodbine Mohawk Park’s Jason Portuondo from the winner’s circle. “That’s what really makes her, probably separates her from most of the others.”
MacDonell crafted the win for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman and his partners Melvin Hartman and Little E. A $70,000 acquisition from the 2017 Standardbred Horse Sale, Haveoneforme was unraced at two, but has made up for lost time since making her debut on Jan. 25. In eight starts she has recorded six wins and Monday’s victory was the Kadabra daughter’s third straight.
Three races later Bright Eyes M, who finished second to Haveoneforme in the SBOA final, was also sent off as the favorite. Starting from post nine, Bright Eyes M effortlessly grabbed control of the front, reaching the quarter in :28.2. From there the Kadabra daughter and driver Stephen Byron were completely untroubled as they rang up a :57.1 half and 1:26.3 three-quarters on their way to a 5-1/4 length victory in 1:55. Sams Arsenal and HP Bruxelles trotted into second and third.
“It’s a long year, but it’s sure starting good,” said John Bax, who trains Bright Eyes M for Menhammar Stuteri AB. Monday’s win was the filly’s third in four sophomore starts, her only loss coming to Haveoneforme in the SBOA final.
A $72,000 purchase from the 2017 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Bright Eyes M made just three starts at two before her connections decided they would be better off allowing her to grow into her big frame.
“As a 2-year-old, she was what I call a typical Kadabra, just a real heavy horse. She eats well, but that was her problem,” said Bax. “She was pretty heavy in the front and that was her issue. I mean she’s a good-sized mare, but she carries a lot of flesh and she’s solid. She doesn’t look like a wide receiver; she looks like a lineman or a linebacker. There’s nothing graceful about her, she’s just all power.”
Bax added that the filly’s size may require careful management this season, both in her number of starts and the size of racetracks she competes over.
“I think the plan would be not over race her and try to keep her healthy all through the year,” said the trainer. “When you’re going for that kind of money you don’t have to go every week, there’s less pressure.”
The next opportunity for Haveoneforme and Bright Eyes M to tangle in Gold Series action will come July 3 at Grand River Raceway. If they continue to have success the pair could also meet up in a series of open stakes events in late summer.