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Band Of Angels is getting used to that 'winning feeling'
Friday, August 22, 2014 - by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Rich Fisher
Trenton, NJ --- Band Of Angels had a lot to learn about winning.

Fortunately for trainer Ron Burke, driver Yannick Gingras and owner Bill Donovan, she won enough that she finally got the hang of things.

Band Of Angels has won her first five career starts and earned $133,583 heading into Saturday’s (Aug. 23) She’s A Great Lady eliminations for 2-year-old pacing fillies at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. All five wins were in New York Sire Stakes races, but during the first three she wanted nothing to do with the celebratory photo session.

“She won the Sire Stakes up in Saratoga a few weeks ago, and up to that point we couldn’t get her to go to the winner’s circle, she would always try to rear up,” Donovan said. “Yannick finally got her to slow down going past the winner’s circle, and me and my friends were kind of walking sideways to get our picture taken. It was kind of comical.”

The good news is, after her fifth win on Aug. 14, Band Of Angels cooperated and stopped by the winner’s circle.

Fotowon photo
Band Of Angels has won her first five career starts, all in New York Sire Stakes races.

“I guess she’s figuring it all out,” Donovan said with a laugh. “Like any baby it takes her time to figure things out. She didn’t have much patience in the winner’s circle, but hopefully she likes getting her picture taken.”

Donovan realizes, of course, that just having the photo op is more important than carrying it out since it means more first-place finishes.

Band Of Angels’ perfect record will be put on the line with her biggest test to date on Saturday. The owner is anxious to see how she will hold up in her first race against ‘open’ competition and her first race away from New York.

“We’ll find out what she’s really made of,” Donovan said. “She’s a pretty nice filly. I hope she’ll hold her own. There are a couple of 2-year-old fillies in this, and I don’t think they really have been tested yet, in the eliminations. This will be a major test, when they get in the final it’s going to be a heck of a race.”

There are three eliminations featuring 25 rookie pacing fillies at the She’s A Great Lady. Donovan feels confident his horse can gain a top-three finish necessary to reach the final. She will have Gingras in the sulky, as he has driven all but one of Band Of Angels’ races.

“We’ve got Yannick at the controls,” Donovan said of this year’s North American leader in earnings. “He’s the first call for Ron Burke and as it worked out the sire stakes dates for this filly were open on his schedule. He’s about the best there is right now. The statistics don’t lie.”

The owner said Gingras has been taking Band Of Angels to the front early in races, “but I think more to stay out of trouble than that she has to be there. You have these young horses who have big breaks and what have you, so that’s primarily the reason. She’s also pretty handy at coming from behind.”

Band Of Angels is a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, the 2010 Horse of the Year, and the Jate Lobell mare Time N Again. She is a half sister to millionaire Romantic Moment, and was purchased as a yearling for $100,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale.

“My farm manager and I pretty much pick out the yearlings I buy and then give them to Ron,” Donovan said. “She was (part of) the first crop of Rock N Roll Heaven and he was just such a great horse. She’s New York bred; my farm is in New York, I have a second home in upstate New York, so when I’m looking, the New York breds are at the top of my list. I also knew how good the sister was. Plus she just looked like a pretty nice horse.

“Ronnie Burke probably has four or five of the top 10 pacing fillies this year. So just when she’s in the barn, there’s competition enough for her.”

Donovan obviously had high hopes for Band Of Angels and she has lived up to them so far.

“Anyone who buys a yearling is hoping for a world champion,” he said. “She’s not a world champion yet but she’s certainly been more than what anyone could hope for. She’s off to a great start, and I really have a lot of confidence in her.

“Yannick likes her. I think the race she had (four) starts back, she (won in) 1:54.4 and came home in :27 seconds flat. For a 2-year-old at that stage of their career to show that in the last quarter is pretty impressive.”

As an added bonus, the horse is everything a handler could want on and off the track.

“From what I understand she’s good around the stall,” Donovan said. “When she gets on the track she’s all business and just wants to go.”

Oh she goes all right. Right on past the winner’s circle.

But she’s working on that.

Below are the fields for the three She's A Great Lady eliminations, to be contested Saturday (Aug. 23) at Mohawk.

C$35,000 She's A Great Lady First Elimination
Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1-The Show Returns-Steve Condren-Chris Ryder-15-1                         
2-Bedroomconfessions-Scott Zeron-Tony Alagna-5-2                         
3-Shakai Hanover-Jody Jamieson-Carl Jamieson-3-1                                      
4-Strut My Stuff-John Campbell-Tony O'Sullivan-12-1                           
5-Palette Tina-Yannick Gingras-Ron Parsons-10-1                              
6-Aria Hanover-Tim Tetrick-Jimmy Takter-7-2                             
7-Bettor Be Steppin-Corey Callahan-Joe Holloway-6-1                         
8-Kays Dragon Lady-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-5-1

C$35,000 She's A Great Lady Second Elimination
Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1-Solar Sister-Doug McNair-Gregg McNair-12-1                               
2-Divine Caroline-Corey Callahan-Joe Holloway-12-1                         
3-Missy Tap Tina-David Miller-Ron Parsons-20-1                                   
4-Cashaway-Tim Tetrick-Tony Alagna-8-1                                       
5-JK She'salady-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Johansson-4-5                              
6-Well Hello There-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-3-1                                   
7-Southwind Mischief-Chris Christoforou-Casie Coleman-10-1                           
8-Shesastarreporter-Jonathan Drury-Blake MacIntosh-20-1                              
9-Ideal Nuggets-John Campbell-Ed Lohmeyer-15-1                               

C$35,000 She's A Great Lady Third Elimination
Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1 Float On By-Tim Tetrick-Dave Menary-15-1                                    
2-Macarena Mama-Chris Christoforou-Blake MacIntosh-10-1          
3-A Plus-Scott Zeron-Tony Alagna-8-1                            
4-Bin N Heaven-Jody Jamieson-Tony O'Sullivan-20-1                                
5-Betty And The Jets-Doug McNair-Gregg McNair-15-1                             
6-Band Of Angels-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-6-5                             
7-Happy Becky-David Miller-Casie Coleman-7-5                               
8-Dancin Caroll-Randy Waples-Tony Alagna-15-1


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