Trainer David Menary swept Grand River Raceway's signature Battle Of Waterloo and Battle Of The Belles stakes with a pair of record-setting Ontario sired two-year-old pacers during the Elora, Ont. half-mile track's annual Industry Day on Monday afternoon.
Menary trainee Tarpon Hanover captured the 15th edition of the $300,000 Battle Of Waterloo for two-year-old colts in a dazzling 1:53 stakes, track and Canadian record performance.
Elimination winner and another Menary trainee Windsong Jack and Rick Zeron cleared to command around the first turn and posted a :27-second opening quarter in the feature event before 6-5 favourite Tarpon Hanover and driver Scott Zeron swept up to take over during the second panel and hit the half-mile mark in :55.3.
From there, Santanna One and Jody Jamieson advanced first up with elim winner Mach Pride and Anthony MacDonald second over and angling three-wide near the 1:24.3 third quarter station. However, Tarpon Hanover began to open up on top and was untouchable as he kicked home for the seven length victory. Mach Pride came on for second and Bad Boy Hill, driven by Randy Waples, rallied from third over to finish third.
The time of the mile shaved two-fifths of a second off the track record, set by Menary trainee Prodigal Seelster in the 2010 Battle Of Waterloo and matched last week by Mach Pride in his elimination.
Tarpon Hanover paid $4.50 to win.
"I didn't really have a game plan. We had the six-hole and I thought it was a tough spot for us," said Zeron following the victory. "I was really focused on Anthony's horse. I thought that he was the horse to beat in there. I just wanted to situate myself nicely in the race so I could either have a power-move opportunity or a second over trip. But the way it worked out in the first turn Anthony was pinned down there on the inside and it couldn't have gone any better for us.
"[Tarpon Hanover] has great ability to relax in the race and start up and stop and start back up so I wasn't worried in that sense, but he raced huge. I only cleared by the half and then I slowed him down and when I saw Anthony's horse go three-wide I put the hammer down and blew all the way to the wire."
The victory was Zeron's second in a row in the Battle Of Waterloo. He upset last year's edition with Machapelo and also won the inaugural Battle Of The Belles in 2009 with FBS Terror.
"Last year I was 99-1 and nobody thought I would beat Warrawee Needy and this year I was the 1-9 shot and I shouldn't have got beat," he said of his repeat win. "I'm very happy. Dave told me in March that this horse was going to win the Battle. I know it sounds crazy, but he called it."
The Badlands Hanover-Tarport Herald colt, an $82,000 Harrisburg Sale yearling purchase, previously swept an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold elimination and final at Mohawk Racetrack before finishing second in his Battle elimination. His third win in four starts boosted his bankroll to $242,250 for Ontario owners Menary, Brad Gray of Dundas, Bruce Norris of Caledon East, and Denis Breton of Welland.
"I'm lucky. We're really luck to have good horses, good owners, and good help," said the Cheltenham, Ont. conditioner after the victory. "Everybody has been doing an unbelievable job and have been working so hard. But really the horses make us look good. I have a great group of horses.
"Today was really special," he added. "It doesn't really matter how fast you go, I'm just really happy to be here holding the trophy."
Tarpon Hanover is expected to race next in the Nassagaweya Stakes.
In the $30,000 consolation earlier on the card, Waples, the winningest Battle Of Waterloo reinsman, rolled the grey gelding Windsong Joker ($6.60) to the top and held off One Bad Night to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:56. The son of Jeremes Jet and Access Hollywood is now three-for-five in his young career for trainer Barry Treen and owner Leonard Gamble of Etobic