Drivers Bob McClure and Doug McNair have been attending Industry Day at Grand River Raceway since they were young enough to spend most of the Civic Holiday afternoon in the bouncy castle.
“I’ve been going there every year since I was pretty young, young as I can remember,” said 27-year-old McNair, who hails from Guelph-Eramosa Township, in a news release.
“I remember running around with those water buckets, rolling bandages in the bandage contest and stuff like that. It’s always a lot of fun there.”
This Monday, in the 27th edition of the Elora oval’s signature event, the pair will be hard at work. Both drivers compete in 10 of the day’s 11 races, including three Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions for three-year-old pacing colts, the $139,250 Battle of the Belles for Ontario Sired two-year-old pacing fillies and the $200,200 Battle of Waterloo for Ontario Sired two-year-old pacing colts.
“I’m very much looking forward to Industry Day. It’s the highlight of the Grand River Raceway season and they really put a lot into it, and it shows. Ted Clarke and his team do a great job putting on a great show,” said 26-year-old McClure, who is Grand River Raceway’s leading driver. “They put together a really great card of racing this year and it’s great to be part of it.
“I spent many years watching these races from the backstretch, but I’ll take the current view just as well,” added the Elora resident with a laugh.
In the Battle of the Belles and Battle of Waterloo McNair has the post position edge with his mounts — Post 3 with Sudden Passing and Post 2 with Southwind Grizzly — but McClure is aboard two elimination winners and looks to have his best chance thus far to win one of his hometown oval’s signature events.
“Play The Bell was huge in her elimination. She had the eight-hole and got spotted okay, but they went a crawling first half and she came a wicked back half to chase them down, and did it very easy,” said McClure of his Battle of the Belles mount, who posted a 1:56.2 clocking in the elimination round. “She’s great gaited and very mature. Casie and her team did a great job training her down.”
McClure will steer Shadow Play daughter Play The Bell from Post 5 for trainer Casie Coleman of Cambridge and her partners in the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, along with Mac Nichol of Burlington and Calhoun Racing Ltd. of Chatham, Ont.
In the afternoon’s finale McClure will also line up at Post 5 with Avalon Hanover, sending the Shadow Play gelding after his second straight win for trainer Dave Menary of Cambridge, Ont. and his partners Billy Joe Timmins of Birmingham, U.K. and Anthony Timmins of Wolverhamton, U.K.
“Avalon Hanover was a big surprise to I think everybody in his elimination, but Dave told me before the race he made some equipment changes and that made him more manageable and, well, the results speak for themselves,” said McClure. “Hopefully he has some luck on Monday. If things go well I’d say he has a decent shot.”
Avalon Hanover stopped the teletimer at 1:54.2 in his first-ever victory, matching the effort of earlier elimination winner Stock. Another Menary trainee, Lucky Sport, won the third elimination in a more sedate 1:56.4. In Monday’s final Stock will start from the outside Post 8 while Lucky Sport gets the trailing Post 9.
“There’s some top notch horses in there I think; some fast horses,” said McNair, who finished second by a neck to Lucky Sport with Southwind Grizzly in the elimination round and will be taking a shot at his fourth Battle of Waterloo title in Monday’s final. “It should be a fun race.”
In addition to the racing, Grand River Raceway has an action-packed line-up of trackside activities for fans of all ages. From the bouncy castle, face painting, pony rides and petting zoo in the children’s area to the prize table laden with items valued at more than $3,000 there is something for everyone. Doors open at noon, children’s activities start at 1 p.m. and the racing gets under way at 1:30 pm.
Full details about Industry Day are available here.