CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — Taking a page from his former employer, Duane Marfisi says he is “full of confidence” heading into Saturday’s three-year-old pacing filly Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack.
The Guelph resident will harness Precious Delight from Post 10 in the eighth race and, while he admits to a moment of stress when he saw the draw, he is certain that driver Luc Ouellette can steer the filly to her second Super Final championship.
“I’m going to sound like (Bill) Robinson, I’m full of confidence,” says Marfisi. “Luc can work it out. She’s better from behind, and she’s right on her toes.”
The Precious Bunny daughter heads into the $300,000 contest off a pair of solid victories. In the Courageous Lady Stake at Ohio’s Northfield Park on Nov. 2 the filly captured her division in a sharp 1:53.4 off a front-end trip engineered by top Northfield reinsman Walter Case, Jr. Seven days later she posted a five and a half length come-from-behind romp in a Trillium Series event at Hiawatha Horse Park, stopping the clock in 1:53.1 with Greg Wright, Jr. in the race bike.
While she has struggled in battles with her American-bred peers this season, Precious Delight has been nearly flawless in Ontario Sires Stakes competition since her debut in the program as a two-year-old. In 11 OSS starts she boasts a record of 10 victories, the only blemish coming in the Oct. 5 Gold Final at Flamboro Downs when she made an uncharacteristic break.
Peter Heffering of Port Perry bred and owns the winner of $1.2 million and while Marfisi refers to her as high maintenance he adds that 10 more like her would be welcome in his barn.
“She’s a high maintenance horse, when they get to this calibre you’ve got to be right on top of them,” he says. “But she overcomes her problems, she’s a great horse.”
If Precious Delight has any problems with Post 10 trainer Bob McIntosh is hoping that Lady Graceful will be on hand to pick up the pieces. The Camluck miss wrapped up the regular season atop the Super Final point standings with her consistent performance and McIntosh expects her to be a significant factor in the season finale.
“She’s been a great mare to train, she gives you 110 per cent every start,” says the Windsor resident, who trains Lady Graceful for Robert Waxman of Ancaster. “Obviously Precious Delight is tough to deal with when she’s on her game, but if something happens, if Precious Delight gets roughed up, we’ll be there to take advantage.”
Like Marfisi, McIntosh has imported a Meadowlands regular to team Lady Graceful on Saturday. The legendary John Campbell will steer the $1 million winner from Post 3 on Saturday.
Trainer John Kopas is also hoping his charge, Go Alberta Go, can take advantage of Campbell’s skill. The Albert Albert daughter will start from Post 6 and Kopas would love to see her hot on Lady Graceful’s heels throughout the mile.
“If I could have everything go perfectly I’d like to see her hook Lady Graceful’s helmet and follow her as far as she can. John (Campbell) always has one in position to win,” says the Campbellville resident, who trains Go Alberta Go for Glengate Farms of Campbellville, Clay Harland Horner and Suvretta Stables of Toronto. “If she races the way she’s capable of, off a trip like that she just might get a piece of it.”
Kopas’s best shot at a trip to the winner’s enclosure will come with his freshman pacing filly entry The Patriot, who heads into the third race off a three-quarter length 1:53.4 victory in the Nov. 4 Gold Final at Mohawk.
Owned by Glengate Farms and Kesons Stables Inc. of Cambridge, The Patriot captured two Gold Finals and three Gold Eliminations this season, locking horns at every turn with arch rival Northern Harmony. Northern Harmony and The Patriot so dominated the two-year-old pacing filly division that they finished one-two in the Super Final point standings with a 179 point gap back to third-place filly Please Me Please.
“She’s shown she can hold her own. She doesn’t really need any favours, although I’d like to see her get one some night,” says Kopas of the Albert Albert daughter. “I think the other night (Nov. 4) she and Northern Harmony both showed what they are made off. Coming down the stretch they looked like two heavy weight champions, neither one wanted to give in.
“Hopefully they’ll both come into it (Super Final) in tip-top shape. It should be another great race.”
Bill Robinson trains Northern Harmony and the Hagersville resident says Kopas and driver Steve Condren are going to get their wish on Saturday.
“No excuses, Northern Harmony is fit and ready,” says Robinson, who trains the three-time Gold Final winner for Gerrie Tucker of Montreal, QC, Sampson Street Stables of Old Forge, PA, Don Bray of Newcastle and Angelo Dinardo of Etobicoke. “She just had so much time off I just couldn’t keep her tight. I’m not one to qualify and I thought I could keep her tight here at the farm, but I found out I couldn’t.”
Northern Harmony will start from Post 6 on Saturday night with Randy Waples in the race bike. The Run The Table daughter headlines a three-horse entry from the Robinson barn, which also includes Town Jiffy (Post 5) and Ascending (Post 7).
The freshman pacing fillies will duel in Race 3 with the three-year-old pacing fillies stepping up to the plate in Race 8 on Mohawk Racetrack’s 7:40 pm program Saturday night.