Ontario’s elite three-year-old trotters and pacers were showcased at Mohawk and Milton, Ont. resident Sylvain Filion -- currently the leading driver in the OSS and a four-time winner of the year-end Lampman Cup award -- guided three of his eight mounts to victory in their respective Gold Series divisions.
Three-Year-Old Trotting Fillies - $96,400 Divisions
On A Sunny Day was a wide-open winner in the evening's first Gold contest for Sylvain Filion. Royal Witch (Trevor Henry) left from post eight to secure the top spot ahead of 2-5 favourite On A Sunny Day while the misbehaving Sweet Of My Heart (Louis-Philippe Roy), who broke stride behind the gate, galloped out across the track. Royal Witch proceeded to lead the field through fractions of :28.1 and :57.2 before On A Sunny Day tipped out approaching the 1:26 third quarter mark. She then chased down Royal Witch in the stretch to score by a widening four and a half lengths in a lifetime-best 1:53.3, with earplugs still in. Gisele Treelane (Jack Moiseyev) was the best of the rest, finishing more than 10 lengths back in third.
“She raced good, we got a nice two-hole trip and as soon as I moved her out of the two-hole halfway around the last turn I knew she was the winner,” said Filion. “She felt good, she trotted home strong, I never pulled the plugs on her, she was just very good tonight.”
Bred and trained by Luc Blais, the Muscle Mass-Dicent No filly is owned by the Determination stable of Montreal, Que. A four-time Gold champion at age two, she has now earned back-to-back Gold victories in her sophomore season.
Tymal Reign earned her first Ontario Sires Stakes victory in the second filly trot division, pulling off a 12-1 upset in rein to Randy Waples. Per Henriksen trains the Kadabra-J M Aggie filly for Steve Organ Aurora, Ont. and Asa Farm of Norwood, Ont.
Janderson (Trevor Henry) crossed to command from the outside post to establish the early lead during a :27.2 first quarter ahead of the popular inside starter Gravitator (Louis-Philippe Roy), who then looped to the lead down the backstretch. Majestic Kat (James MacDonald) followed that move and swept to command past the :56.2 half-mile mark. As the new leader took the field past three-quarters in 1:26, Waples had Tymal Reign positioned second-over and sent her three-wide turning for home. Tymal Reign trotted by her filly foes down the stretch to score by one and a quarter lengths in a career-best 1:55.4 performance. Janderson maneuvered towards the pylons and chased the winner home in second-place while Majestic Kat settled for third.
Three-Year-Old Pacing Colts - $66,400 Divisions
Classic Pro was bet down to 1-9 following his impressive third-place showing in the Meadowlands Pace (race timed in 1:48.3) and he didn't disappoint his backers back home. Classic Pro (Trevor Henry) and Red John (Phil Hudon) blasted off the gate from posts six and eight, respectively, with the favourite having the inner advantage and securing the lead through a :26 opening quarter. He led the way through middle splits of :55.4 and 1:23.2 with pressure mounting in the form of Saulsbrook Lanny (Travis Cullen). However, Classic Pro turned back that foe and drew clear down the lane to win by two and a quarter lengths in a new lifetime mark of 1:51. Calvin K (James MacDonald) finished second ahead of Red John.
Dr. Ian Moore trains the Shadow Play-Kattimon colt, who is now two-for-two in the Gold Series. He also shares ownership with R G McGroup Ltd. of Bathurst, N.B. and Serge Savard of St-Bruno, Que.
“He’s good, real good. He came home the Sunday [July 16] and I gave him Monday, Tuesday off, and then I jogged him Wednesday, Thursday, and then actually I did what I used to do with his father -- I trained him yesterday, the day before, because the last time he raced in the Gold he was just so-so, if you remember,” said Moore, who also trained Shadow Play. “That’s after he had a rough week the week before where he raced really good in the North America Cup [finishing fourth], and then I went real easy on him and he was no good when I was easy on him, so he likes a bit of work.”
Sports Column made his first trip to the winner's circle this year following a 1:50.3 career-best performance in the next division. Chris Christoforou drove the Sportswriter-Lady Leslie colt for trainer/co-owner Blake MacIntosh and partners Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, Que. and Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, Pennsylvania.
A two-time freshman Gold champion, Sports Column was debuting on Lasix in his seventh start of his sophomore campaign and was the 2-1 second choice. After a :26.1 first quarter, he swept to command from third and led through fractions of :54.4 and 1:22.3 while turning back 9-5 favourite Mc Mach (Paul MacDonell). Sports Column then closed out the two-length victory with a :28 final frame while early leader Dreamfair B J (Louis-Philippe Roy) followed in second and Bills Fella (Mike Saftic) came on for third.
“It’s very satisfying,” said MacIntosh of the colt’s victory. “We’ve been fighting with him all year trying to get him right. He’s raced okay, but he just hasn’t been himself.
“We schooled him there a couple weeks ago and he schooled great, and then we qualified him and he qualified great, and then he raced great tonight."
Nascar Seelster upset 7-5 favourite Tymal Peacemaker (Sylvain Filion) as he caught that foe at the wire in his Gold Series debut for driver Randy Waples and trainer Bob McIntosh. Happy Trio (Paul MacDonell) established the lead from post six through a :27 opening quarter before Frontier Seelster (Louis-Philippe Roy) pulled the pocket while Tymal Peacemaker was making his move from fourth. As Frontier Seelster worked to clear past the half in :55.1, Tymal Peacemaker charged three-wide and overtook that foe. Nascar Seelster then followed the cover of Streakavana (Doug McNair) and those two began to close in on the leader down the lane. In the final strides, 18-1 shot Nascar Seelster stole the glory, hitting the wire first in a lifetime-best 1:51.4. Tymal Nascar missed by a head while Streakavana finished half a length back in third.
Unraced as a two-year-old, the Mach Three-No Strikes Against gelding also won his initial Grassroots test in late June. He is campaigned by Ontario's Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. of Windsor, Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, Mardon Stables of Loretto, and James Walker of Port Perry.
Three-Year-Old Trotting Colts - $98,000 Divisions
Even-money favourite Magic Night was a repeat Gold Series winner in the trotting colt segment with Sylvain Filion catch-driving for trainer Susie Kerwood and owner Tommy Andersson Rockwood, Ont.
The Kadabra-Bedtime Song gelding cleared to command from post six in the first turn and clocked an opening quarter in :27.3, half in :58 and three-quarters in 1:27.2 en route to the 1:56.1 victory. Clarion Hall (Louis-Philippe Roy) closed inside off a ground-saving trip to come within three-quarters of a length of the winner at the wire while Scene A Magician (Jack Moiseyev) finished third off a pocket ride.
“That was the first time I drove him and he’s a nice big trotter,” said Filion. “Once he got to the front, he was pretty lazy. I had to chase him the whole way, but at the top of the stretch he found another gear. In the post parade he was pretty grabby, like he was almost hot, and then during the race he was lazy, almost caught me off guard there.”
Filion completed a sweep of the trotting colt divisions steering 5-2 second choice R First Class to victory over 4-5 favourite Try Try Again (Chris Christoforou). Leaving from post six and caught three-wide into the first turn, R First Class cleared to command past the :27 quarter mark. He continued to lead past :56.3 and 1:26.2 markers while Try Try Again followed the cover of eventual breaker Vero Amore Bi (James MacDonald) and chased the winner home in a two-horse breakaway. R First Class held clear of that foe down the lane to win by one and a quarter lengths in 1:55 while LMC Mass Gem (Louis-Philippe Roy) completed the top three finish order.
“He got a little tired late, but he hung on for the win; he raced tough,” said Filion. “He’s still learning. He’s a nice, big strong trotter and I’m pretty sure he’s much better covered up, so hopefully next time out we’ll be able to race him covered up.”
The homebred Kadabra-World Class Image gelding is owned by Thomas and Elizabeth Rankin of St. Catharines, Ont. Ben Baillargeon handles the training duties for the first-time Gold winner, who went unraced as a freshman and now has three wins and three seconds in six outings.
Three-Year-Old Pacing Fillies - $96,400 Divisions
Fresh off a victory in Clinton Raceway's Kin Pace, The Joy Luck Club continued to blossom scoring her first Gold Series trophy and 11th win of her sophomore season for driver Doug McNair and his father Gregg, who trains and co-owns with R A W Equine Inc. of Burlington, Ont., and Mark Horner of St Marys, Ont.
Soiree Seelster (Sylvain Filion) made a quarter-pole move at the :28.1 mark to overtake first leader Dudesalady (Billy Davis Jr.), but the 2-1 favourite The Joy Luck Club could not wait and swept three-wide from third to make front. The Camluck-Oh The Joy filly reached the half in :56.2 then three-quarters in 1:24.1 before pacing away to a three-length victory in 1:51.1, a new lifetime mark. Soiree Seelster finished second while the late-closing Blameitonthenight (Jonathan Drury) came on for third ahead of first-over advancer Dancing Shadows K (Randy Waples).
The McNairs doubled up with the three-year-old pacing fillies as 9-5 second choice Action Majesty won her second straight Gold event. After Yaris Bayama (Sylvain Filion) looped around Fade (Travis Cullen) past the :26.3 opening quarter, Action Majesty rushed up from fourth to take over command at the :55.2 half-mile mark. Stonebridge Sundae (Rick Zeron) advanced first-up on the way to three-quarters in 1:23.2 and made it to the leader's wheel while 8-5 favourite Aint Three Ok (Trevor Henry) fanned off cover, but Action Majesty dug in down the stretch and held clear to take a new lifetime mark of 1:51.1. Aint Three Ok and Stonebridge Sundae finished in a dead-heat for second-place.
Kenneth Sommer of Sheffield, Ohio owns and bred the Royal Mattjesty-Action Grin filly, who also snagged two Gold victories in her freshman campaign.
“The Joy Luck Club raced real good. I was going to race her from off [the pace], because she hasn’t been finishing on the big track, but there wasn’t much speed and, once the half flashed up in :56.2, I figured she’d be tough to beat,” said Doug McNair. “Action Majesty raced good as well, especially for being off three weeks. I was happy the way she fought in the stretch; that was another big mile.”