Owned by Jim Lawson and trained by Sid Attard, Gravelly Bay, which was the original name of the settlement now known as Port Colborne, Ontario, heads into the Ontario Damsel off a strong third-place finish in a June 8 allowance race on the Toronto oval turf, just one length back of winner Part the Seas.
“We really couldn’t believe her odds,” said Attard. “She was coming into the race in great form. It’s a bit of a cliché, but every race and every work, she’s just improved.”
Unraced as a two year-old, Gravelly Bay, bred by the late Mel Lawson, made her debut on April 6, finishing second in a five-furlong Polytrack race at Woodbine.
Sent off as the mild favourite in her next start, at six panels on the ‘Poly,’ the bay rallied stoutly to finish second, but was promoted to first through disqualification.
It’s not just Gravelly Bay’s Beyer Speed figures (56, 62 and 82) that are on the improve, according to Attard.
“From day one, we knew we had a nice filly,” he said. “Mr. Lawson really likes her, too. She’s all class. She’s calm in her stall, nothing gets to her, but she has that racy filly attitude you love to see.”
Gravelly Bay’s dam, Destroy, who was bred and owned by Mel Lawson, won the 2010 Sovereign Award as Canada’s outstanding broodmare.
Attard is expecting a strong effort on Saturday.
“You never want to make excuses, but she had a bit of a tough trip last time out,” he offered. “That’s just racing luck. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. She’s doing great and she’s continuing to get better.”
Last year, Bingo gave conditioner Mark Casse his second consecutive Ontario Damsel crown and third in five years (Quiet Action in 2007 and Barracks Road in 2010).
Also on tap Saturday, the $100,000 Sweet Briar Stakes, set for seven furlongs on the Polytrack. First race post is 1:05 p.m.