Northfield, OH — Halekai III got the perfect trip in Wednesday’s (Nov. 22) $25,000 Autumn Leaves series final at MGM Northfield Park, upsetting race-favorite Contechsfashion.
Contechsfashion (Aaron Merriman) and JB Velvet (Aaron Johnston) left together through the first eighth of a mile, with Contechsfashion clearing midway around the opening turn. Halekai III (Anthony MacDonald), parked through a :28.2 opening quarter, finally cleared into the far turn for the first time.
Once MacDonald made the lead, there would be no looking back as Halekai III led the field through an uncontested half in :58.1. JB Velvet tipped to the outside just past the half to take her shot at Halekai III and got within a nose of the lead at three-quarters in 1:27.3.
Around the final turn, JB Velvet took the lead momentarily from Halekai III, but when MacDonald asked his filly for more, she responded, opening up easily and winning by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:59. JB Velvet hung on for second; Fox Valley Shania (Chris Lems) rallied to be third.
It was the seventh career victory for the 3-year-old daughter of Father Patrick, who is owned by Thestable Halekai Group and trained by Jason McGinnis. Halekai III pushed her career earnings to $85,891 with the win.
(Reprinted with permission from MGM Northfield Park)