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Woodbine Mohawk Park hosted the first three-year-old pacing colt showdown of 2021 on Saturday (July 3) and Bulldog Hanover delivered a performance that brought fans to their feet.


Starting from post 10 in an 11-horse field of Gold Series rivals, Bulldog Hanover and driver Jody Jamieson never saw the inside of the racetrack. As the starting gate swept away from the field, Control Heaven took early command, but was quickly overtaken by Second Bruiser, who led the field to a :26.3 quarter. Favourite Lawless Shadow then had a brief turn on the lead before P L Ozzy took over and paced by the half in :54.1.

As each horse ahead of him in the outer lane moved to the front, Bulldog Hanover moved steadily forward, but Jamieson opted not to battle for the lead when it was his turn, choosing to match strides with P L Ozzy through the 1:21.2 three-quarters. Once the colts squared up in the stretch, Jamieson asked Bulldog Hanover for another gear and the colt pulled away from his rivals to a 1:49.1 victory and the lion’s share of the $158,800 purse. Second Bruiser closed hard to be second, one length behind the winner, and Lawless Shadow was two more lengths back in third.

“The horse, he’s just an honest horse. He likes to race horses, he likes to beat horses, and he gives you what he’s got, and I think he felt good so Jody was kind of sitting there waiting as long as he could to ask him,” said trainer Jack Darling. “He (Jamieson) just can’t say enough nice things about him. He’s really impressed.”

Darling shares ownership of Bulldog Hanover with Brad Grant of Milton, and the Cambridge, ON resident admitted it was a relief to get the first sophomore stakes win in the books.

“Just the way the year has gone, I mean he was ready to go for the first Sires Stakes back in May and then they cancelled the races so you’ve got to back off a little bit,” said Darling. “You want to keep them ready, yet you’ve got to keep them fresh and happy, so it’s been a little tougher trying to figure out exactly what to do. And then we drew the 10-hole tonight in the big field and I thought, ‘Oh this is going to be tough’, but he’s just a special kind of horse and he just pulled it off.”

At two, Bulldog Hanover made just six starts, two in the Grassroots and four in the Gold Series. The son of Shadow Play and BJs Squall elevated his game to another level in the season ending Super Final, cruising home nine lengths ahead of his peers in a personal best 1:50.2. As a result, the colt has a full slate of stakes engagements this season including Woodbine Mohawk Park’s signature event, the Pepsi North America Cup in early September.

Before the three-year-old pacing colts waged their primetime battle, the two-year-old pacing colts squared off in their very first Gold Series event and driver James MacDonald emerged victorious in both divisions.

In the race bike behind favourite Camealongway in the first $101,400 division, MacDonald got away fourth from post 4 but had the Casie Coleman Herlihy trainee firing to the front before the :57.1 half. From there, the Sportswriter son never saw a challenger, cruising home a 4 1/2-length winner in 1:52.2. Erinwood Yves was second and He Bee Sunny was well back in third.

“He was great. He’s so fast, I asked him to clear, he just took off right now,” said MacDonald. “He was a little green on the front, and kind of spotted some stuff down the lane, but I mean all kinds of go and all kinds of talent, that’s for sure.”

Coleman Herlihy trains Camealongway for West Wins Stable of Cambridge, who offered up $45,000 for the youngster at last fall’s Black Book Yearling Sale.

MacDonald and Betterhavemymoney were also the favourites in the second $102,200 division and got away from the starting gate in similar fashion, landing fifth from post 5. MacDonald moved the colt into the outer flow behind Sundance Lou heading for the three-quarters and at the head of the stretch Betterhavemymoney hit a bigger gear and pulled away to a 6 3/4-length victory in 1:53. Sundance Lou finished second and Century Inspector was third.

“He’s just a big, strong powerhouse,” said MacDonald, who drives the son of Betterthancheddar for trainer Nick Gallucci and owner-breeder Millar Farms of Stouffville, Ont. “He’s had two qualifiers and a start now and I haven’t had to start him up yet or push him hard, so I think he’s got a real bright future.”

As for which freshman pacer could emerge as this year’s Ontario Sires Stakes star, MacDonald said it is too early to say.

“They’re just different horses, it’s hard to compare at this point,” said the Guelph, Ont. resident. “Casie’s horse is kind of slick, a little speedster, and Nick’s horse is a big powerhouse. So they’re very different types of colts and you never know what could turn into what.”

The two-year-old pacing colts return to Gold Series action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 16, while the three-year-old pacing colts will wage their second heavyweight battle on July 25 at Georgian Downs.

Ontario Sires Stakes excitement continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday (July 5) with the first Gold Series Leg for the three-year-old pacing fillies. Fans can download a program and watch the live stream on the Woodbine Mohawk Park website and those who wish to attend in person can make a reservation here.

On the OSS undercard, pacing gelding Enavant made his five-year-old debut and remained perfect in his 12-start career. Bob McClure had the son of Somebeachsomewhere seventh and last through the first three panels of :27.0, :55.1 and 1:24 before shifting into the outer flow fourth over around the final turn and then fanning out wide for the stretch drive. Through a :26.3 final quarter, Enavant steamrolled past his competition in the stretch and tripped the timer in 1:51.3.Luc Blais trains Enavant (Somebeachsomewhere - Lady Be Great) for Determination of Montreal and Guy Corbeil of Mirabel, Que.