Ontario-sired two-year-old talent is front and centre at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday evening as the Campbellville oval plays host to $130,000 Gold Finals for both the pacing colts and fillies.
Cheltenham resident David Menary will harness two starters in the pacing colt contest, both sons of Badlands Hanover who won their eliminations last week.
Tarpon Hanover captured his first lifetime start in an impressive 1:52.4, and will start from Post 3 in Friday’s seventh race. Menary shares ownership on the $82,000 US yearling acquisition with Brad Gray of Dundas, Bruce Norris of Caledon East and Denis Breton of Welland and the horseman says, while he was expecting a solid performance form the colt, he was extremely nervous heading into the June 29 elimination.
“That was the most nervous I have ever been racing a horse,” admits Menary. ”I wanted him to be what I thought he was.
“It’s nice to have good ones, but the better they are, the more you worry,” he adds.
Based on his conformation Tarpon Hanover, a half-brother to $829,919 winner Tarver Hanover, was ‘the’ horse Menary hoped to purchase at last fall’s yearling auctions. The colt is from the first Ontario crop of sire Badlands Hanover, and Menary says he backed up his gut feeling about the horse with the opinion of veteran US horseman George Teague who has trained several successful Badlands Hanover offspring, including two $1 million winners.
“I was kind of a fan of Badlands Hanover, but I hadn’t seen enough of them,” Menary explains. “So I asked George Teague his opinion of Badlands Hanover and he told me he thought, pound for pound, the horse was the best sire in North America and he’d take a Badlands Hanover over another major sire.”
Teague’s opinion has proved prophetic as Badlands Hanover offspring captured four of the six freshmen pacing Gold Eliminations held at Mohawk last week. In addition to Menary’s colts Tarpon Hanover and Slight Touch, Badlands Hanover daughters Love Canal and Its No Secret were victorious in their June 28 eliminations.
Scott Zeron piloted both Tarpon Hanover and Slight Touch to their victories, and the Oakville resident opted for Tarpon Hanover in Friday’s final, leaving Slight Touch in the capable hands of Randy Waples. Waples will send Slight Touch after a share of the $130,000 purse from Post 10 and Menary figures the colt will need some more of the luck that saw him promoted to first from second due an error by one of his peers last week.
“He had a little bit of bad luck this week to draw the ten-hole,” notes Menary, who conditions Slight Touch for Robert Seguin of Gatineau, QC. “But when you pull he wants to go.”
Menary says he expects Slight Touch will continue to improve over the season as the long-legged youngster, a $16,000 purchase at the Canadian Yearling Sale, learns to harness his natural ability.
“He’s a big colt that has a lot of go, but he’s got a lot of learning to do,” explains the trainer. “If we can manage him, manage his speed a little, he’s going to be a better colt.”
Like Menary, Gordon Remmen will harness a member of Badlands Hanover’s first crop on Friday, and the Campbellville resident says pacing filly Nitrous Force is also gaining knowledge with every start.
“She was a little tentative at the gate in her baby races, but what I really like about her is she shows improvement every time,” says Remmen. “She’s still learning as she goes, but she’s very willing to do everything.”
Nitrous Force finished in a dead heat for third in her Gold Elimination last week and will start from Post 4 in Friday’s final. Milton resident Sylvain Filion will return to his regular spot in the filly’s racebike.
Remmen shares ownership of Nitrous Force with his longtime friend Douglas Mitchell of Calgary, AB and says he also went to last fall’s yearling sales looking for a Badlands Hanover son or daughter.
“I was looking for a Badlands Hanover, something that I could afford,” says the horseman, who wrote out a $20,000 cheque to acquire the filly from the Forest City Yearling Sale. “She definitely showed that she was a nice filly all winter. She did everything I asked of her, she was always sound, and she always had a good attitude.”
Remmen and Filion, who captured last year’s freshman pacing filly Grassroots Championship with Eat Me Up, are hoping Nitrous Force can earn a sizeable share of Friday’s Gold Final purse, but the trainer knows anything can happen when 10 two-year-olds line up behind a starting gate.