By Woodbine Communications/ Chris Lomon
TORONTO – The Ontario Sire Heritage Series continued Sunday afternoon at Woodbine with Foolish Games winning the $100,000 Thunder Bay Stakes.
Originally a six-furlong E.P. Taylor turf sprint, the race, which was moved to the Tapeta and contested at the same distance due to heavy rains in the area on Saturday, is part of an eight-leg stakes series open to Ontario Sired 3-year-olds, held at Woodbine and Fort Erie racetracks.
Ontario Racing’s Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) Committee unveiled the series in 2021.
With a total purse structure of $800,000 this year, the Heritage Series features four races – three opening legs and one final – for both 3-year-old colts and 3-year-old fillies who are by a sire registered with the TIP.
In addition to the $800,000 in purses, there is also $70,000 in bonus money available to the top finishers in the series.
Sent off at 7-2 in the Thunder Bay, Foolish Games, with Omar Moreno in the irons, was roused to the lead at the outset of the 3-year-old filly race, crossing over from the outside post six to take command. Ahead by a length after an opening panel timed in :23.52, Foolish Games maintained that one-length advantage through a half in :46.62.
Coming off the turn for home, Moreno called upon Foolish Games for her best run and the daughter of Reload-Jungle Jewel dug in as Anam Cara and Hot Cargo turned up the pressure and took aim at the frontrunner.
On top by a length at the stretch call, Foolish Games went on to post a 1 ¼-length score in a time of 1:11.06. Hot Cargo headed Anam Cara for second. Souper Sinclair was fourth, followed by Flowers ‘n Berries and 8-5 choice Souper Sunday. Tamana was scratched.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Moreno, of finding himself unchallenged on the front end. “The game plan was to put her in the race and let her be comfortable. She always runs good like that, and she loves when horses come running behind her.”
It was the first stakes crown for trainer Michelle Love, who co-owns the chestnut filly with Mentec Mississauga Industrial Equipment Ltd. and Big Willow Stables.
“These are the best owners I’ve ever had,” said Love. “These guys are amazing, they just let me do my job. They let me train the horses. They are such good people. Just happy, happy people. This is a dream come true for us. It’s the first stakes win for all these guys, so this is really amazing.”
Love felt confident in the outcome after the time went up for the opening quarter.
“I told him [Moreno] not to let [trainer] Steve Owens’ horse [Souper Sunday] go because he was going to get an easy lead and probably would have galloped again. As soon as she got that :23 opening quarter, we were already heading here [winner’s circle].”
Bred by Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, Foolish Games is now 3-0-1 from four starts.
She paid $9 for the win.