The last round of eliminations having been run Monday night, the field is now set for a pair of marquee events at Grand River Raceway’s Industry Day: the Battle of Waterloo and the Battle of the Belles.
The Battle of Waterloo, with $239,000 in prize money up for grabs, features a slate of nine Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing colts. For the Battle of the Belles, where the purse is $157,000, the field will be nine Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing fillies.
The races are part of the Industry Day activities in which Grand River Raceway hosts a series of harness racing and family events. Along with the signature races, there’s a free kids’ zone with a petting zoo, face painting and bouncy castles.
“It’s one of the biggest draws of the year,” said Jenna Knox, the raceway’s meetings and events coordinator. “It’s a busy day – the parking lot is full, with people everywhere.”
Industry Day and the Battle of Waterloo, launched in 1998 at what was then the Elmira Raceway, are now part of the civic holiday tradition.
“One of the great things is the daytime racing as opposed to our usual night time card,” she said.
The festivities get underway at noon on August 5, with post time for the first race at 12:30 p.m. As always, there’s no cost for admission.
The elimination races July 29 determined who’d be taking part in next Monday’s battles.
In the Battle of Waterloo field, 13 of the nation’s top two-year-old colts battled for a spot, with the top four from each division and one fifth place finisher advancing based on a draw.
The first Battle Of Waterloo elimination saw Blake MacIntosh trainee Beach Blanket Book and driver James MacDonald blaze by the field to win by a head in 1:56.4. MacIntosh will be looking to score his second Battle Of Waterloo title since winning with Sports Column in 2016. Beach Blanket Book will leave from post 4 in the final.
Better B Swift finished second to Beach Blanket Book. The Scott McEneny trainee was driven by Sylvain Filion and dueled early with race favourite Denali Seelster (Doug McNair / Ian Moore).
Both Scott McEneny and Ian Moore will vie for their second Battle of Waterloo victory (McEneny won with Simple Kinda Man in 2017 and Moore won with Wellthereyougo in 2009) while Hall Of Famer Carl Jamieson will seek his sixth Battle Of Waterloo victory.
Better B Swift will need to bring some swift skills to the table as he will leave from the outside post 7, while Sports Obsession and team Jamieson will battle from post 5. Denali Seelster will leave from post 3.
Betterthancheddar colt Mr Cheeseman scored the final ticket to the big dance for driver Bob McClure and trainer Scott McNiven. The pacer was randomly drawn from the fifth-place finishers and will leave from post 6.
In the second division, Aneto and Bob McClure were able to fend off Wind Blown and J Harris. Aneto, trained by Tim Gillespie for Synerco Ventures Inc., will leave from post 9 in the final.
The Battle Of Waterloo has been won by multiple sons of the late Mach Three including Machapelo, Three Of Clubs and Somebeachsomewhere. Leaving from post 1, Wind Blown could add his name to the list of Mach Three grandchildren to capture the Battle of Waterloo.
Betterbuckleup will also advance to the final for driver James MacDonald and trainer Eric Adams who will leave from post 2. Tabloid Writer will start from post 8 for the brotherly tandem of Mario and Ben Baillargeon.
Twenty-two rookie freshman fillies contested three eliminations to determine the contenders for the Battle Of The Belles. The top three from each division advanced to the final.
The fastest freshman of the season thus far, Alicorn, was victorious in the first of three Battle Of The Belles eliminations.
Driven by Louis Philippe Roy, Alicorn is trained by Chantal Mitchell, who is looking for redemption after finishing second with Bettors Wish in the 2018 edition of the Battle Of Waterloo. Alicorn will aspire to give her connections their first Belles victory from post 4 in the final.
The rest of the first elimination was rounded out by Sound Idea, driven by Sylvain Filion and trained by John Balzer. She will leave from post 6 in the final. Preeminence, driven by Paul MacDonnell for trainer Marcel Barrieau will start from post 1.
Also advancing to the Battle of the Belles final is Blake MacIntosh trainee Queso Relleno, who swept the field with Jody Jamieson aboard. Queso Relleno scored her maiden victory in the second elimination division in 1:55.4 and will leave from post 3 in the final.
Joining Queso Relleno in the Battle of the Belles final will be Temagami Seelster (J Harris / Wayne McGean) who will leave from post 2 and race favourite All Day Sunshine (Sylvain Filion / Richard Moreau) who will start from post 9. Trainer Wayne McGean seeks his second Battle title after winning with Bronx Seelster in last year’s Battle of Waterloo. Harris, Moreau and Filion are all looking to score their first Belles title.
It wouldn’t be Industry Day without an entry from the local father and son duo of Doug and Gregg McNair who have been victorious in the Battle of Waterloo and the Battle of the Belles with stable stars such as Trail Boss, Three of Clubs, Magnum J and Lady Shadow. This year, the team will send out Karma Seelster, the winner of the third and final elimination.
Karma Seelster let the early action unfold before coming on to mark her first lifetime victory in 1:56.2 (after heavy rainfall degraded the track from a fast to good speed rating). Karma Seelster will start from post 8.
Finishing second to Karma Seelster and advancing to the final was the Amanda Fine trainee Highland Salsa, driven by J Harris. Highland Salsa will leave from post 5 for her young teamster. Trainer Blake MacIntosh will have another shot of capturing the Battle of The Belles title with Bettorbeasecret, driven by Robert Shepherd. She will leave from post 7.