Gillis Homebred Heads Grassroots Group Off To London

Published: May 25, 2023 11:14 am EDT

Elises Delight is one of 45 sophomore pacing fillies heading to southern Ontario on Friday, May 26 to compete for $132,000 in six Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions at The Raceway at the Western Fair District.

Elises Delight won the $49,300 Ontario Sired Spring Series final at Woodbine Mohawk Park on April 22 for trainer Jeff Gillis, who bred and owns the filly with Ellen Ott of Buffalo New York.

The daughter of Bettors Delight has been a pleasant surprise for Gillis after she made just two pari-mutuel starts in her freshman season.

“Last year, she got off on the wrong foot and wasn’t physically or mentally ready, so we just shut her down,” said Gillis. “She is not a very big filly and not a blocky, rugged Bettors Delight. But she paced in 1:51 in her last start and I am not sure I ever thought she would do that. So, we are just kind of taking it as it comes with her.”

Gillis’ connection with this filly goes back two generations. The resident of Fergus, Ont. purchased her second dam Shes Beachy when she was in foal to Artsplace, as part of his last crop.

That foal was Elises Delight’s dam Slimsplace, who put more than $142,000 on her card for Gillis on the racetrack and is the dam of The Downtown Bus, a gelded son of Mach Three who was a stakes winner in Gillis’ barn including a pair of OSS Gold divisions and a deadheat win in the 2018 Matron at Dover Downs (with Friday night's Camluck Classic favourite This Is The Plan).

“Slimsplace was named after my father. His nickname was Slim and he passed just a month after that mare was born,” said Gillis. “Then Elises Delight, my partner, that is her granddaughter, so it’s special to her and there is always a little bit of sentimentality and pride that comes with raising one yourself."

On Friday, Elises Delight will leave from post two in race six as the 9-5 morning line choice with James MacDonald driving. It will be her racing debut over a half-mile track.

“I don’t think the half will be a concern. I think she will be around it just fine,” said Gillis. “She was actually on the left line a little bit in her last start, which actually bodes well for the turns. So, I don’t anticipate any problem.”

Others to watch on Friday include Star So Bright, a $250,000 Lexington Select yearling who raced in Brett Pelling’s barn last year and has moved to Gregg McNair’s stable this year. Owned by Mac and Carol Nichol of Burlington, Ont., the daughter of Bettors Delight is the 8-5 morning line favourite in race nine, the final $22,200 Grassroots division of the evening. Doug McNair will drive from post three.

Mist Amber, from the barn of Dorchester, Ont. trainer John Pentland, has four conditioned wins at The Raceway in 2023 and will look to replicate those efforts in her first attempt against Grassroots company. Leading London driver Tyler Borth will hold the reins in that ninth race division, leaving from post seven at 6-1 on the morning line.

Chedda Chedda already has more than $64,000 on her card in 2023, with close to $20,000 earned through a record of 1-1-1 in three Ontario Sired Spring Series starts. The daughter of Betterthancheddar is trained by Chantal Mitchell and owned by Decision Theory Inc. Trevor Henry will be in the racebike in the fourth race division and they will start from post four as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.

Friday's 12-race card will culminate with the featured $150,000 Camluck Classic. The action begins at 6:30 p.m.

To view Friday's complete harness racing entries, click the following link: Friday Entries - The Raceway at Western Fair District.

(With files from Ontario Racing)