LONDON, Ontario . . . Mark MacDonald, one of harness racing’s most talented drivers, made his return to The Raceway at Western Fair District where he made his start and was leading driver for several seasons, and captured two of the four City Of London finals tonight, part of the Molson Pace undercard.
The third and fastest City Of London final, a $38,200 contest for pacing distaffers, had tons of action with MacDonald, now a regular on the New York circuit, scoring a victory. As the race got underway Trevor Henry and Face To Face overtook Miss Brandi K by the :27.3 opening panel.
She hit the half in :55.3 with pressure from favourite Milliondollar Babe who was neck and neck with the leader down the backside but they were both overtaken by Lyons Katrina and MacDonald, who’d been stalking second over, and were absolutely flying by the 1:25.4 three-quarters.
Lyons Katrina slowed in the stretch but held on to win in 1:57.1. Played By Anangel was a close second followed by Miss Brandi K.
It was first lifetime win for Lyons Katrina, a three-year-old daughter of Major In Art owned by Geoffrey Lyons of Burford, Ontario and trained by James Morrison. Bred by Bill Loyens of London, Ontario, the filly is the second foal from $457,000 winner Milliondollarsmile, her first being $482,000 winner Windsong Jack.
The fourth and final City Of London final, the $39,000 test for pacing horses, saw MacDonald and Fortune Playboy cutting the pace early as he hit the opening quarter in :27.3. He had pressure from Teranadawn at the :57.2 half but rebuffed that challenge and hit the three-quarters in 1:26 and held his position through the wire in 1:57.3. Hussys Blu Boy was second with Decroft Havaball third.
Fortune Playboy, a four-year-old gelding by Rambaran, was recording his seventh win in 10 starts this year for trainer Patrick Shepherd and owner Holland Racing Stable of Niagara On The Lake, Ontario.
In the $35,600 final for male trotters it ended up being a four horse race thanks to a late scratch and several breakers in the early going. That allowed Trevor Henry and Shadywood Kid easy access to the front end early and they never relinquished it.
The three-year-old gelding by Pegasus Spur tripped off splits of :29, 1:00.2 and 1:30.4 and was a comfortable winner in 2:01.3 over Crime Novel and Kdazzle. Henry, the leader driver at The Raceway, co-owns the winner with John MacLeod who bred the Shadywood Kid with Henry’s father Ross.
Trained by Shannon Henry, Shadywood Kid was recording his first lifetime win in his 11th attempt.
An exciting photo finish took place in the $34,800 final for mare trotters which saw Ja El Diamond setting the early tempo for Steve Byron through fractions of :29.3, 1:01.2 and 1:31.1. Heroine Seelster sat the pocket the entire mile and was trapped in that spot until late going when she finally found racing room and trotted up quickly but was just a nose short at the wire in 2:02.1. Oaklea Wand was third.
Pat Hunt trains the winner, a three-year-old daughter of Angus Hall owned by Glengate Farms of Campbellville, Ontario. Unraced last year at two, Ja El Diamond now has three wins in six starts this year for $31,000 in earnings.