06/10/2017 9:40PM

Mohawk: Field set for Roses Are Red Stakes final after three eliminations

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Nike Franco N picked up a new lifetime mark of 1:49 2/5 from her Roses Are Red elimination

Nike Franco N served notice that she could be a challenger to Lady Shadow when she won her Roses Are Red elimination for open pacing mares on Saturday night at Mohawk in a career-best 1:49 2/5. For her part, Lady Shadow claimed her elimination in 1:50 2/5, and Frost Damage Blues turned in a 1:50 1/5 effort in another elimination.

With Tim Tetrick at the lines, Nike Franco N raced in the second C$35,000 elimination, and she would move from third to first on the way to the 54 3/5 half.  She would go on to reach three-quarters in 1:22 2/5 and then sprinted home in 27 seconds flat to defeat pocket-sitting Call Me Queen Be (Scott Zeron) by a length and a half.  Penpal (Pat Lachance) was up for third, followed by Sandbetweenurtoes (Doug McNair).

"She felt really good," remarked Tetrick.  "It was kinda the first time I've ever raced her that way, but she moved right on the front, relaxed good, and when somebody came at her she swelled right up.  I knew I had Call Me Queen Be on my back, and I knew she'd give me a run, but when she tipped out my mare just took right off and she did her job.

"She's been good every start except one start at Yonkers where she just didn't get around the track very good.  I actually got to drive her when I was in Australia and I loved her.  I found out she was for sale, and they got her bought, which I'm glad.  She's just been a super mare all along."

Joann Looney-King trains Nike Franco N, a 7-year-old McArdle mare, for owner Richard Poillucci.  This was her 25th career victory, and she has now earned C$457,743.  She was sent off as the 4-5 choice and paid $3.70 to win.

As for Lady Shadow, she stepped on the track as the 1-9 favorite in the final elimination, and she would land in fifth for Yannick Gingras while Prairie Sweetheart (Matt Kakaley) went to the front and got away with soft first-half panels of 27 2/2 and 56 2/5.  Gingras already had his charge first-over before the half, and she would advance quickly as the pace increased on the far turn, getting to within a quarter of a length of Prairie Sweetheart at the 1:23 three-quarters.

Lady Shadow took over the lead in the lane, and although Wrangler Magic (Louis-Philippe Roy) closed at her late, Lady Shadow remained in front, winning by three-parts of a length.  Prairie Sweetheart just nosed out Lay Lady Lay (McNair) for third.

"I was trying to get her an easy trip from the back since she's on the front all the time, but it probably worked out that she had to work harder than if I had just put her on the front," said Gingras.  "Timmy's mare raced really good.  You've got to take the competition seriously - there's good mares in there - but I wouldn't trade mine for any of them that's for sure

Ron Adams trains Lady Shadow, a 6-year-old Shadow Play mare, for owners David Kryway, Carl Atley, Edwin Gold, and Bfj Stable.  This was her 31st career victory, and she has now banked $1,926,162.  She returned $2.20 to win.

Back in the first elimination of the night, Darlinonthebeach (David Miller) grabbed control before the 54 1/5 half, then hit three-quarters in 1:21 4/5.  In the lane Darlinonthebeach gave way, and Frost Damage Blues (James MacDonald), who had worked out a second-over trip behind Bernadette (Gingras), rallied into the lead and eventually the win by a length and a quarter over Pure Country (Brett Miller).  Witch Dali (McNair) came in third, and Bernadette finished fourth.

"I knew a short field would kind of suit her well, and I was just hoping I could get a second- or third-over trip," MacDonald said.  "First of all I wanted to make the final, and anything after that was a bonus.

"I was pretty confident around the last turn.  I knew I was in a good striking spot, and she felt really good.  I just didn't know if she could hold off Pure Country, but she raced big so I was really happy with her."

The victorious 5-year-old Western Ideal mare is trained by Tom Fanning for owner William Augustine.  Frost Damage Blues is now a 14-time winner in her life, and she has put away $191,862.  Frost Damage Blues was dispatched at 6-1 and paid $15.60 to win.

Here is how the field will line up for next Saturday night's C$365,000 final:

1.  Bernadette
2.  Frost Damage Blues
3.  Nike Franco N
4.  Lady Shadow
5.  Wrangler Magic
6.  Call Me Queen Be
7.  Witch Dali
8.  Penpal
9.  Pure Country
10.  Prairie Sweetheart
AE.  Lay Lady Lay