June 28, 2017

Ontario Breeders Lawsuit Continues

April 27, 2017 – Trot Insider has received an update on the status of the legal proceedings between a group of Ontario breeders against the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corp. (OLG).

The factum below was filed in Ontario court yesterday (Wednesday, April 26).

In February 2015, the group of breeders won a decision seeking broad production of internal documents from Ontario and OLG concerning the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP). The motion was brought by the breeders in their lawsuit for damages caused by the abrupt cancellation of SARP in March 2012. The Standardbred breeders have alleged that Ontario and OLG made a systemic series of representations about SARP over a number of years that were ultimately breached when the SARP revenue-sharing partnership was terminated.

The factum filed references some of the internal documents and notes that a number of individuals have been served summonses to testify on this case, including former Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan and Don Drummond, author of the now-famous Drummond Report. The factum claims that the section discussing horse racing in the report was crafted by the Ministry of Finance.

87. In the weeks and months before this report was released, the Ministry of Finance had written this narrative for inclusion in the Drummond Report. 57 Far from being the independent by-product of wide-ranging mandate to “delve into almost every corner of the government’s activities and to think long and hard about how government can work better for the benefit of everyone in the province”,58 the Drummond Report was — as least as far as SARP was concerned — a scripted contrivance.

88. The SARP language in the Drummond Report was, in its material parts, written by Ministry of Finance functionaries entirely devoid of independent analysis or thought to justify a preordained result. It was the opposite of independent and thoughtful. It was a political cover up for a formed intention to breach an agreement knowing great harm would result to a politicially expedient rural Ontario.

The factum is available here in PDF format or embedded below.

Updated: 2017 OSS Schedule Released

February 10, 2017 – Ontario Racing is pleased to release the 2017 Ontario Sires Stakes race schedule.

You can view the schedule here or embedded as a PDF below.

(with files from Ontario Racing)

OSS Payment Deadline Extended

January 25, 2017 – Owners of three-year-old horses eligible to be sustained to the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) are being given an extension.

Ontario Racing has extended the payment deadline from February 15 to March 15, 2017.

The Board of Directors at Ontario Racing, based on recommendations from the Standardbred Advisory Group, will be approving the 2017 OSS and Standardbred Improvement Program.

It is expected that the OSS Program format and schedule will be released before February 15. However, owners are being given an extension to make their payments as the reminder notices have not yet been mailed.

Further information will be posted on the OSS website (ontariosiresstakes.com), the Ontario Racing website (ontarioracing.com) and other industry sites as it becomes available.


Super Final Champions Crowned

October 15, 2016 – The top performers in the 2016 Ontario Sires Stakes program converged at Mohawk Racetrack for Saturday’s $2 million Super Final Night at Mohawk Racetrack.

Trot Insider has provided live coverage of all eight $250,000 championships below.

Two-Year-Old Colt Trot

Season leader Mass Production proved his divisional dominance with a blowout win in the evening’s first Super Final for trainer/driver Rick Zeron.

The first half-mile was full of action with multiple lead changes and misbehaving trotters, but once Mass Production made the front, there was no catching the Muscle Mass-All Time Favorite gelding as he took off to win by open-lengths in a new stakes record clocking of 1:54.4.

Speedycrest (Jack Moiseyev) fired to the front first from post seven with Dream Massive (James MacDonald) and Reach The Peak (Sylvain Filion) driving three-wide into the first turn. Dream Massive cleared eventual breaker Speedycrest by the :28 first quarter mark with Reach The Peak still parked from post nine. Meanwhile, Mass Production followed into the outer flow.

After Reach The Peak cleared to command down the backstretch, Mass Production swept by at the :57.3 half-mile mark. Lucys Man (Mike Saftic) pursued next in line and tucked into the expanding pocket after Reach The Peak broke stride. But Mass Production left his rivals behind to sort out the minor awards as he sped past three-quarters in 1:26.1 and trotted away down the stretch to win by eight and three-quarter lengths.

Mass Production shaved one-fifth of a second off the all-time OSS record for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, which was held by Harper Blue Chip.

Tycoon Seelster (Paul MacDonell) and Dream Massive rounded out the top three finish order.

“He’s a hell of a colt, boy!” said Zeron after the victory. “He started off in mid-April and Shane Barrington, my trainer, said to me, ‘We got a pretty good colt here, Rick’ so we watched ourselves with him and played it by ear, but what really helped this colt was giving us a month off between the fourth and fifth Gold. He grew a lot and developed a lot and he came back his last two starts and was just a creature his last two starts.

“I just had to make sure I wasn’t getting into any traffic trouble, and you know, then I could move him over and I said to him, ‘You just go on up to the front and you can control your own destiny.'”

Mass Production did just that and etched his name into the history books in the process, but his speedy performance wasn’t a surprise for his trainer.

“He won a couple weeks ago in [1]:55 and a piece and and he was stronger this week training, Shane said, so we were looking for big things tonight,” said Zeron. “We got a real nice warm night, no wind, no rain, and it’s a joy to have your own horse that you developed trot in [1]:54.”

A $32,000 Canadian Yearling Sale acquisition, Mass Production was bred by Stan Klemencic of Trenton, Ont. and is owned by the Rick Zeron Stables of Oakville, Ont., James Walker of Port Perry, Ont., Bruno Dipoce of Wasaga Beach, Ont., and Rene Allard of Matamoras, Pennsylvania. He has won five of his nine career starts while banking $285,673.

“It was a great year for this colt, and you know, we’re looking for big things for him next year and we’ll just take it from there,” said Zeron.

Mass Production paid $3.10 to win.

Three-Year-Old Filly Pace

Fan favourite L A Delight ended her perfect Ontario Sires Stakes career with another Super Final title, digging in to fight off Bad As Leader for the 1:50.3 victory for driver Randy Waples and trainer Bob McIntosh.

Leaving from post four, L A Delight emerged between fillies to take the lead over insider Party In Rome (Jack Moiseyev) at the :26.2 first quarter mark with Mayhem Seelster (Sylvain Filion) parked and pressing.

L A Delight released Mayhem Seelster to the lead and then quickly retook down the backstretch, reaching the half in :54.2 and then three-quarters in 1:23 while Bourbon Seelster (Mike Saftic) stalled first-over.

L A Delight remained clear into the stretch, but Bad As Leader (Trevor Henry) has maneuvered out and was closing in quickly as the wire approached. However, L A Delight ultimately persevered by a head while Party In Rome finished two lengths back in third.

Sent postward as the overwhelming 1-9 favourite, L A Delight paid $2.20 to win.

“Coming down the lane, I said, ‘Come on wire! Hurry up wire!'” laughed McIntosh, who is the leading OSS trainer for Super Final wins, picking up his 11th title with L A Delight’s latest victory. “They were coming, but right down by the wire, if you watch the replay, she dug in. She just wants to win and that’s something you can’t teach them, they’re just born with it, and right before the wire, I just saw her dig in and she took off and she wasn’t going to get beat.”

The homebred Bettors Delight-West Of L A filly is owned by the Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. of Windsor, Ont., C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, Ont.

“We bred her and she’s out of a sister to Thinking Out Loud,” noted McIntosh. “So I trained her second dam too, Los Angeles, so it’s totally a home grown one for sure.”

L A Delight has won all 11 of her OSS starts over the last two seasons and is now 20-for-27 lifetime with earnings over $1.35 million.

“I’ve been very fortunate to train a lot of good horses and great fillies,” said the Hall of Fame trainer. “I’d have to say, she’s probably the best filly I ever did train. Just based on her consistency, it was unbelievable, and her desire to win.”

L A Delight will look to add to her list of accomplishments next in the Breeders Crown.

Two-Year-Old Filly Trot

With divisional leader and 1-9 favourite On A Sunny Day breaking stride in the first turn, the door was left wide open for a longshot winner in the next Super Final. Winter Sweet Frost overcame her outside post and pulled off the 10-1 upset with Doug McNair working out the winning trip aboard the Paul Reid trainee.

Stuck In My Spanks (David Miller) came away with a two-length lead by the :28 first quarter mark after insider On A Sunny Day (Sylvain Filion) made a miscue that sent her from first to last. Meanwhile, McNair was able to secure what turned out to be a pocket trip after leaving from post nine with Winter Sweet Frost.

Stuck In My Spanks continued to lead the field to the half in :56.4 before McNair made his move with Winter Sweet Frost on approach to the 1:26.1 third quarter mark and they drew away by three lengths into the stretch. Gravitator (Rick Zeron) came tearing off cover down the lane, but Winter Sweet Frost maintained a one and a half length advantage to the wire over that rival while her stablemate, Holiday Promise (Chris Christoforou), finished third.

The winning time of 1:55.4 was a new lifetime mark for the homebred Kadabra-American Frost filly, who is owned by Robert Key of Leechburg, Pennsylvania.

After seeing the favourite break stride, Reid said that he was just hoping his fillies didn’t suffer the same fate.

“I was just hoping mine stayed trotting,” he said. “It’s been a long season for a lot of these fillies so you just never know.”

A two-time Gold winner earlier this summer, Sweet Winter Frost now has three wins from nine career starts and earnings over $300,000.

“She’s learned to sit in a whole, which is definitely going to help her career,” said Reid. “You can’t always be on the front-end, especially when it’s that class of fillies out there today.

“I was real proud of her to keep digging in like that [in the stretch] and it’s just a great night so far.”

Sweet Winter Frost paid $22.70 for a $2 win ticket.

Two-Year-Old Filly Pace

After a disappointing loss with two-year-old filly trotter On A Sunny Day, Sylvain Filion came back and engineered a 9-1 upset victory in the next Super Final for filly pacers withYaris Bayama.

Fade (Jonathan Drury) took the lead from post six over his Casie Coleman stablemate Windy Sport (David Miller) while Doug McNair had Action Majesty firing out from post 10 into the mix. Action Majesty cleared before the first quarter mark, timed in a quick :26.1.

Meanwhile, post eight starter Bid Writer (James MacDonald) was left parked out before finding a spot along the pylons mid-pack ahead of Yaris Bayama. As Bid Writer dropped in, Filion tipped Yaris Bayama out.

Action Majesty continued to lead the field past the half in :55.3 while Yaris Bayama flushed out cover in the form of Windy Sport, who turned up the heat on the leader to three-quarters in 1:24.2.

Windy Sport gained the upper hand down the stretch before Yaris Bayama took over with Fade coming through between horses and the 2-1 divisional leader, Aint Three Ok (Trevor Henry), closing late on the far outside. However, Yaris Bayama came out on top, prevailing by three-quarters of a length in 1:53 flat. Fade was the runner-up over Aint Three Ok and Windy Sport.

Yaris Bayama returned $20.40 to her backers at the betting windows.

“We had a decent post and the trip worked out for us,” said Filion after the race. “She was good and strong tonight. Throughout he season she had issues, she was sick, but tonight she was real good. You’ve got to give credit to Stephane Larocque.”

Larocque trains the homebred Sportswriter-Lucky Josie filly, who started her career in the Grassroots program and has now won half of her 10 career starts while banking $231,820 in purses. She is owned by Bayama Farms Inc. of Saint-Andre-D’Argenteuil, Que.

While disappointed after On A Sunny Day’s break in stride in the previous Super Final, Filion is hoping that filly will mature with time.

“I was real disappointed the race before,” he said. “She [On A Sunny Day] wasn’t quite herself; I couldn’t get her to trot around the turn. You know, they’re babies, they’re two-year-olds, they’re still learning. Hopefully, next year she’ll come back even better.”

Three-Year-Old Colt Trot

Sylvain Filion managed another mild upset with 7-1 shot Warrawee Roo, who helped make amends for his stablemate On A Sunny Day’s miscue earlier in the night. This time, the connections of trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination of Montreal, Que. benefitted from a break in stride made by the favourite.

Will Take Charge (Paul MacDonell) took charge firing off the gate from post six over Zagster (Trevor Henry), but his lead was short-lived as post eight starter Bee In Charge (Chris Christoforou) continued his march to the top through a :27.1 opening quarter.

From there, divisional leader and 9-5 favourite Muscle Hustle (Randy Waples) came rushing up from an early four-hole to take over command on the way to the :57 half-mile mark.

Dia Monde (Doug McNair) then took his shot and gained a slight advantage while Muscle Hustle tried to fight back before breaking stride at the 1:24.4 third quarter mark. Dia Monde inherited the lead, but Warrawee Roo rallied off his cover down the middle of the track to score in 1:53.4 by one length. Will Take Charge finished second over Dia Monde, with Bee In Charge inside fourth.

“When you’ve got guys that work all year after their horses and they’re a heavy favourite in the final and make a break like that, it’s pretty tough to take,” said Filion, referring the the Blais-trained On A Sunny Day, “but luckily this horse here, who we didn’t really expect to win at all, he saved the night.

“We had a good trip; we had a second-over trip. I knew if I could get a decent trip and he could stay flat, because that’s the main thing with him… He’s got a lot of issues, health and soundness issues, and he’s beat these horses before, but he’s made a lot of breaks lately. Tonight, he kept it together and man, he was strong.”

Warrawee Roo, who entered the Super Final off a qualifying mile after making breaks in his last two starts, paid $17.50 to win.

Bred by Warrawee Farm of Rockwood, Ont., the bay colt was purchased for $44,000 from the Canadian Yearling Sale. After going winless in four starts as a freshman, he has earned five wins from 14 races this year with his Super Final winnings doubling his bankroll.

“I think he’ll be a really nice four-year-old and I’m looking forward to him,” said Filion.

Three-Year-Old Filly Trot

Filion struck again for Blais and Determination as he mapped out a perfect pocket trip in rein to Emoticon Hanover to defeat defending champion and 1-5 favourite Caprice Hill in the three-year-old filly trot.

Filion left from mid-field with Emoticon Hanover to lead through a :27.3 first quarter before Caprice Hill (Tim Tetrick) worked past her out of an early two-hole. Caprice Hill carved out middle splits of :55.4 and 1:24.2, but couldn’t hold off Emoticon Hanover when she emerged from the pocket down the stretch. Emoticon Hanover defeated Caprice Hill by one and a quarter lengths in a career-best clocking of 1:53.1, with Wanaka (Trevor Henry) closing for third.

“I said if she finished second, I would be happy because Caprice Hill, she’s an amazing filly,” said Blais after Emoticon Hanover’s victory. “But she had a perfect trip and she responded at the end. She looked good.”

The Breeders Crown-bound Emoticon Hanover was the 2015 Super Final runner-up and the divisional point leader this year despite Caprice Hill being undefeated in three starts in the provincial program. Emoticon Hanover also won three Gold legs, but had an additional two runner-up finishes to give her the edge in the standings.

Lifetime, the Kadabra-Emmylou Who filly, who was a $165,000 purchase at the Harrisburg Sale as a yearling, has won 11 of her 23 starts while earning $700,000.

She was bred by Ontario’s Linda Wellwood of St George Brant, Tammy Aspden of Caistor Centre, Anne Shunock of Dorchester, and Diane Ingham of Mount Pleasant.

Sent postward as the 5-1 second choice on the toteboard, Emoticon Hanover paid $12.30 to win.

While the evening didn’t start as planned for the Blais stable, the trainer said it turned out to be a good night.

“That’s racing horses, that’s the game,” he said of On A Sunny Day’s miscue. “But ‘Roo’ won and her…she beat that mare here, it was a good night.”

Two-Year-Old Colt Pace

Colin Johnson trainee Arsenal Seelster pulled off the biggest surprise of the night, prevailing at odds of 46-1 at the hands of Jonathan Drury.

Southwind General (Jody Jamieson) powered out from post eight to overtake Big Bad Bill (Trevor Henry) past the :26.1 first quarter. Meanwhile, Arsenal Seelster was next-to-last in the early going before following into the outer flow fourth-over.

Yogi Bayama (Yves Filion) went first-up from mid-pack at the :55.4 half-mile post with divisional leader and 4-5 favourite Streakavana (Sylvain Filion) following his cover. He applied pressure to Southwind General through three-quarters in 1:24.3 before taking over into the stretch.

Machin A Trick (James MacDonald) closed well, but Arsenal Seelster rallied off his back down the lane to score in 1:53 flat by one and three-quarter lengths. Yogi Bayama finished second and Machin A Trick was third.

“I just feel great. We always knew that he had the speed to race these kind of horses and he just didn’t have a lot of luck in some of the races and it just didn’t work out for him,” said Johnson after the victory. “But today, with the way the speed was up front, he was able to kick home good and I’m very happy with the way he raced.”

The lightly raced colt had just three starts in the Gold Series in his debut season, with his best result a pair of fifth-place finishes. He returned a whopping $95.30 for a $2 win ticket.

The victory was the third in seven career starts for Arsenal Seelster and boosted his bankroll to $151,180.

The Seelster Farms-bred colt by Artistic Fella out of Alias Seelster was purchased for $35,000 from the Forest City Yearling Sale by Johnson and partners Thomas Kyron of Toronto, Brian Paquet of Quebec City, and Ecurie Jgv Enrg of Laval, Que.

“He was out of a great family and his mom was a real good mare and she’s given some good offspring and we just liked the way he looked,” said Johnson. “He was a big, strong colt and we liked that in him so we decided to take a shot on him.”

Three-Year-Old Colt Pace

Betting Line closed out Super Final Night by overcoming his post 10 start and extending his win streak to 14 in rein to David Miller for trainer Casie Coleman.

Gerries Sport (Sylvain Filion) left from post six with Sintra (Jody Jamieson) firing out from post eight and taking over by the quarter pole, which was reached in :26.2. Voracity (Tim Tetrick) followed in third while Betting Line got away fourth.

Sintra led the field to the half in :55, with Betting Line moving underway first-over. The 1-5 favourite was still five lengths off the lead though by the 1:22 third quarter mark.

Sintra turned for home while Gerries Sport pursued from the pocket down the lane. However, Betting Line kicked into high-gear in deep stretch and surged past those rivals to win by one length in 1:49.3. Gerries Sport edged out Sintra for the runner-up honours.

“I know if I can have him somewhere close he’s usually got a good enough kick to get home,” said Miller of his racing strategy. “With the 10, I tried to get him somewhere close into the race, but I landed fourth. I knew what was coming. But he’s tough and he can take it. He raced well again.”

“I was a little bit worried at the head of the lane,” admitted Coleman, “but Betting Line does that once in a while and then he knows where the wire is. I’ve never had a horse that knows where the wire is as much as Betting Line. He just digs right in when he hits the flag poles there and makes sure he’s on front at the wire.

“There definitely was a whole lot of favourites that got beat tonight so I wasn’t liking that. I knew we were going to have a tough trip coming from the 10-hole and Betting Line, he’s a horse that needs to be trained up tight. I trained him hard, but whenever he has a big gap, he’s never quite as sharp. So I was worried about the gap in his schedule, but we got it done.”

Division leader Betting Line’s went four-for-four during the regular OSS season, but has also taken on Grand Circuit foes scoring victories in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, North America Cup, Carl Milstein Memorial, Battle of the Brandywine, Simcoe Stakes, and most recently, the Little Brown Jug. He boasts a 14-for-15 sophomore record and is the leading money-earner in Canada this year with a bankroll of nearly $1.7 million.

“It’s been a great ride,” said Miller. “He’s given me a lot of thrills and he shows up every time. I can’t be more happy with him. He’s just a very good horse.”

“I’ve got to say thank you to Jonathan Drury; he drove the horse through the eliminations of the OSS,” noted Coleman. “He did a great job every time he sat behind him and now Dave did a great job in the final. Both of them handled the horse perfectly for me all season.”

Bred by the New Jersey-based Fair Winds Farm Inc., the Bettors Delight-Heathers Western colt was a $60,000 yearling purchase from the Harrisburg Sale and he has amassed more than $2.2 million lifetime. Coleman shares ownership of Betting Line as part of the West Wins Stable with Ross Warriner of Burlington, Ont., along with their partners Christine Calhoun of Chatham, Ont., and Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont.

Betting Line will head to the Breeders Crown next, with plans to race in stakes events at Dover Downs before retiring to stand at Hanover Shoe Farms.

Betting Line paid $2.40 to win.

State Treasurer Retirement Pace

Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year State Treasurer opened the stakes-filled card by leading the post parade for this week’s $34,000 Preferred Pace. The Dr. Ian Moore trainee was also honoured in a blanket presentation, marking his official retirement, which was announced this week. He will stand stud at Seelster Farms in Lucan, Ont., starting with the 2017 breeding season.

In the State Treasurer Retirement Pace, driver Sylvain Filion launched Evenin Of Pleasure from the pocket in the final eighth of the mile to prevail in 1:49.3 over even-money favourite Ellis Park.

The 8-5 second choice established the early lead from post five before last week’s winner, Ellis Park (Randy Waples), looped to the lead after a :26.3 first quarter and reached the half in :54.2 and then three-quarters in 1:22.3. However, Evenin Of Pleasure overpowered the front-runner in the stretch with a :26.4 final frame, with Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry) advancing first-over to finish third.

Richard Moreau trains the six-year-old son of Dragon Again and Armbro Amour, who is approaching the $750,000 mark in career earnings, for owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc. of Montreal, Que.

Evenin Of Pleasure paid $5.30 to win.

To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results – Mohawk Racetrack

Steacy Poised For Johnston Cup

October 13, 2016 – Mohawk Racetrack hosts the $2 million Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals on Saturday, Oct. 15 and trainer Mark Steacy will cap off a career-best year in the program by sending out starters in four of the eight division championships.

With 263 points, Steacy is poised to capture his first Johnston Cup title as the top trainer in the Ontario Sires Stakes program. Heading into the season finale, Steacy has a 39-point lead on reigning title-holder and eight-time winner Robert McIntosh and sits 42 points ahead of three-time winner Gregg McNair. He and his staff have harnessed 128 starters in the provincial program to date for 14 wins, 13 seconds, 20 thirds, 28 fourths, 12 fifths and earnings of $573,540.

“I’m pretty proud of that,” said Steacy of his career-best statistics. “Again, that’s not just me, that’s the staff too.

“First of all, you’ve got to have the great owners and then you’ve got to have the great help,” the horseman added. “These guys work hard, and if it wasn’t for them, the results wouldn’t be the same.”

In addition to his season-long Ontario Sires Stakes success, Steacy achieved a major milestone in August when his career earnings surpassed $20 million. Both accomplishments are part of a decade-long evolution in Steacy’s operation that started when son Shawn joined the business.

“It all happened probably in the last 12 years; we were kind of low key until about 12 years ago,” said Steacy, a lifelong horseman who was introduced to harness racing by his father Clarke Sr. “After Shawn graduated out of school and came on with me, I was able to keep horses and race them rather than sell them, which I used to do before. I used to develop them, race them a few times in Ottawa or Montreal, and then sell them.”

For several years, Shawn supervised a temporary operation near Mohawk during the peak months of the Ontario Sires Stakes season, but last fall father and son decided it was time to establish a more permanent base at the First Line Training Centre in Nassagaweya, Ont.

“Shawn was up here all winter this year. We’ve come up before with half a dozen or 10 horses and stayed for three or four months, and we’ve done that for 10 years or so, but we’ve never stayed all winter until this year,” explained Steacy, who was honoured with the O’Brien Award for Horsemanship in 2007. “We’re going to be here again all winter. I’ll do my babies at home in Lansdowne, but we’ll keep the older horses up here.”

Steacy has already acquired 18 yearlings and expects that number to climb as high as 25 before the sales season wraps up. While Shawn, who now makes his home in Guelph, Ont., handles the older horses, Steacy will have the support of his younger son Clarke Jr. when it comes time to start the yearlings.

“I have Clarke on board too,” said Steacy, adding that Clarke Jr. has decided to switch his focus from catch-driving to training for the time being. “He’s actually running the Lansdowne outfit right now, and so I think that’s going to help us to even get to another level.”

All three men are currently focussed on finishing the Ontario Sires Stakes season on a high note, ensuring Dream Massive, Sass, Royal Charm and Nocturnal Bluechip are in peak shape for their respective $250,000 Super Finals on Saturday.

Two-year-old trotting colt Dream Massive will kick things off from post six in the first Super Final, and his connections are hoping the son of Muscle Mass minds his manners after making breaks in his last two Gold Series starts.

“We trained him this morning [Wednesday], and he trained good, so hopefully,” said Steacy, who conditions the colt for Michael Soehnlen of Dalton, Ohio. “I thought we had him sorted out there and he went out and made a mistake again last time. He just got bully in the hole. Off and on he’s showed that he does have quite a bit of ability, but he can be his own worst enemy.”

Three-year-old trotting colt Sass gets post three in the fifth Super Final of the card and Steacy is hoping the Kadabra colt has bounced back from a viral infection that showed up after the Oct. 6 Gold leg at Mohawk.

“He still got fourth, but that was his worst start,” noted Steacy, who put the colt on a course of antibiotics after the race. “Hopefully, he’ll be good to go on Saturday; I think a healthy Sass has got a shot. Obviously, you’ve got to have that thing called luck on your side, but if it is then I think he’s got a shot.”

Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Que. bred and owns Sass, who has earned $177,980 in his career to date.

Sophomore trotting filly Royal Charm landed post four for her last Ontario Sires Stakes start and will be looking to continue the hot streak she has been riding through the last six weeks. After a pair of third-place finishes in the Simcoe Stakes and her Elegantimage elimination, the daughter of Steacy’s former superstar Majestic Son scored an upset win in the $436,000 Elegantimage final and then finished second in the last Gold leg.

“She’s finally coming together for us. We always knew she had a lot of go to her and she’s been behaving herself, touch wood, lately,” noted Steacy. “As long as she does that, she’s not a big horse getting off the gate, but she can always kick home good.

“If she races respectable, I think then she is eligible to the Breeders Crown, and I think the Matron, so it’s possible that we could finish the year off with that,” added the trainer, who conditions the winner of $341,462 for David McDonald of Cornwall, Ont., Shelly MacMillan of Waterloo, Ont., Hudson Standardbred Stables Inc. of Hudson, Que., and Bridle Path Stables Ltd. of Ossining, New York. “We’ll just have to see how Saturday goes first.”

Steacy’s final entry comes in the three-year-old pacing colt showdown with Nocturnal Bluechip lining up at post nine, alongside the reigning division champion Betting Line, who gets the outside post 10.

“He’s got a tough post and he probably needs a better post more than them all,” said Steacy of the Bettors Delight son. “He’s been kind of a letdown this year, you know, a horse that’s got lots of speed but just hasn’t done what we expected of him. The way he’s going, he’s going to have to trip out really well.”

Landmark 8 Racing Stable of Kingston, Ont., Jane Phair of Thornbury, Ont., and NLG Racing Stable of Wallkill, New York share ownership of Nocturnal Bluechip, who heads into the Super Final with lifetime earnings of $225,901.

Guelph resident James MacDonald will steer Nocturnal Bluechip, Dream Massive and Sass, while Paul MacDonell, also of Guelph, will pilot Royal Charm.

Mohawk Racetrack’s first race goes postward at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the eight $250,000 Super Finals slated as races two through five and seven through 10. In addition to the on track excitement, Mohawk fans will receive an Ontario Sires Stakes ball cap when they purchase a program and can play the fun-filled OSS Trivia Spin and Win game for more great prizes.

To view the harness racing entries for Saturday at Mohawk, click one of the following links:
Saturday Entries – Mohawk Racetrack
Saturday Program Pages – Mohawk Racetrack (Courtesy of TrackIT)

(With files from OSS)

(Standardbred Canada)

Streakavana Tops Freshman Colts

October 1, 2016 – Streakavana earned his third Gold trophy of the season in Saturday’s Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event at Mohawk Racetrack, and in doing so, moved to the top of the point standings for the two-year-old pacing colt and gelding division.

In the evening’s first of two $105,000 Gold divisions, Big Bad Bill (Trevor Henry) showed early gate speed taking the lead from post seven into the first turn, but insider Southwind General (Doug McNair) swept to the top past the :26.2 first quarter mark with Calvin K (Chris Christoforou) parked and pressing after leaving from the outside post eight.

As Southwind General gave Calvin K the cold shoulder on the way to the half in :55.2, driver Sylvain Filion positioned Streakavana second-over and then sent him three-wide to confront the pacesetter at the 1:25.2 third quarter mark. Streakavana took over the lead as they raced into the stretch and drew clear to score in 1:53.1. Mc Mach (Paul MacDonell) rallied home from the backfield to finish second over Southwind General.

Streakavana rebounded from his first off-the-board finish of his career in the previous Gold leg on September 19 at Grand River Raceway and now has four wins along with one second-place finish from six career starts.

“He didn’t like the turn last week and he missed the turn,” trainer Scott McEneny explained. “He was a little sick and we just worked on him for the last couple of weeks and he was good tonight so we’ll get him ready for the Super Final [on October 15].

“He had a good week and everything, but I was little worried,” said the Waterdown, Ont. horseman. “I wasn’t very happy with his race last week, but he had some things that were issues and we got them looked after so hopefully he’ll be good.”

Streakavana overtook Sports Column for the lead in the divisional point standings with his victory in the final Gold leg of the season, which gives him 155 points.

“It’s still very tough, there’s a lot of nice colts out there,” said McEneny, assessing his competition. “There’s some in the other division. He’s one of the better ones, so hopefully we draw good and get a good trip.”

Streakavana paid $3.20 to win as the 3-5 favourite. The Big Jim-Stonebridge Madona gelding boosted his bankroll to $175,250 for owners Brad Grant and Teresa Davidson, both of Milton, Ont.

In the second division, Machin A Trick rallied home from the backfield to earn his first Gold victory in rein to James MacDonald.

Outside leaver Bet On Brett (Rick Zeron) hustled to command off the gate, but his lead was short-lived as Happy Trio (Sylvain Filion) pulled the pocket at the :26.3 first quarter mark and took over while a parked out Arsenal Seelster (Mario Baillargeon) retreated to a four-hole behind 8-5 favourite Classic Pro (Randy Waples).

While Happy Trio led the field through middle splits of :55.3 and 1:25.1, the backfield began to advance with the eventual winner spotted third over after trailing the field through the first half-mile. However, Machin A Trick surged onto the scene down the stretch to steal the spotlight in 1:53.2, with Bet On Brett closing inside to finish half a length behind. Classic Pro rounded out the top three finish order.

“He’s got a really big move to him,” gushed MacDonald after the pacer’s :27.1 late-closing kick sealed the deal. “I didn’t want to be too far out of it, but sometimes you can’t really help what you’re dealt with so when the trip worked out like it did, I moved him and he was gone.”

Machin A Trick, who was a runner-up to Big Bad Bill in the previous Gold event at Grand River, paid $6.40 to win as the 2-1 second choice in the field.

“He’s still green, he’s still figuring out how to pace,” noted MacDonald. “Like he gets a little ‘rolly,’ so Grand River wasn’t his cup of tea, but here, he was super and he’s having a good go.”

Machin A Trick earned his third win of the season from eight starts and pushed his earnings over the $100,000 mark for trainer Jeff Gillis, who also shares ownership with Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont. and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, New York. The connections purchased the Mach Three-Tricky ridgling for $50,000 from the Canadian Yearling Sale.

“There’s some nice colts this year, but hopefully he’s the best one,” said MacDonald looking forward to the Super Final.

This week’s $34,000 Preferred Pace ended in a photo finish with even-money favouriteNickle Bag ultimately holding off Ellis Park by a head for the top honours.

Moving in one post with the scratch of State Treasurer but still furthest out, post seven starter Nirvana Seelster (Rick Zeron) charged to the top over Evenin Of Pleasure (Sylvain Filion) into the first turn and put up a :26.1 first quarter before Nickle Bag swept by. Trevor Henry sent the popular six-year-old pacer from fourth to first, reaching the half in :55 and then three-quarters in 1:23.3 with Ellis Park (Randy Waples) chasing first over but coming up just short at the wire in 1:51.3. Evenin Of Pleasure rallied outside to finish just a half-length behind in third.

Nickle Bag paid $4 to win. The Rocknroll Hanover-Buckle Bunni gelding, now a 10-time Preferred winner this year, is trained by Bill Robinson and owned by Linda Loyens of Denfield, Ont. and Harry Loyens of Ilderton, Ont.

Amidst the 11-race card, trainer Carmen Auciello won three straight races with Mach Power ($5.60, Billy Davis Jr.), longshot Bugger Bruiser ($102, Rick Zeron) and Cash For Gold ($13.90, Paul MacDonell).

To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results – Mohawk Racetrack.

(Standardbred Canada)

Grassroots Champions Crowned; Lady Shadow Wins Milton Stakes

September 24, 2016 – The 2016 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots season came to a close on Saturday night (September 24) at Mohawk Racetrack with eight new divisional title holders emerging from the $400,000 championships. Top pacing mare Lady Shadow was also in the spotlight, winning the $311,000 Milton Stakes.

Trot Insider has provided coverage of the eight, $50,000 Grassroots championships for two and three-year-olds, and the Milton Stakes for older pacing mares below.

Ontario Racing hosted a reception for the Ontario Sires Stakes. Here’s Ontario Racing Executive Director Rob Cook with SC’s President & CEO Dan Gall enjoying the night at Mohawk.

Two-Year-Old Filly Trot

Riding a three-race win streak and having drawn the inside post position, Anikadabraseemed liked a safe bet in the evening’s first Grassroots Championship. While two-year-old trotting fillies can be unpredictable, the divisional win leader stayed true to form and delivered on her 1-5 pari-mutuel promise with a three-length victory in 1:57.4 for driver Rick Zeron and trainer Rob Fellows.

Zeron made his move with Anikadabra after a 28-second first quarter and sent her from and early four-hole to the lead by the :58 mid-way mark. The favourite trotted out to a two-length advantage on the way to three-quarters in 1:28.2 and cruised home uncontested for the dominant victory. Stritch (Jonathan Drury) closed late for the runner-up honours while first-quarter leader Late Shift (Jody Jamieson) held on for third.

After the race, Zeron agreed the victory was as easy as it looked for the winning filly.

“It actually was. She’s just an outstanding filly,” said Zeron. “I can’t tip my hat off enough to Rob Fellows. He managed this filly every race that she was in this year. He took care of her. I kept telling him that she was a Gold [filly] and he said, ‘I’ll save her for next year, we got bigger fish to fry, we’re going to race her in the Grassroots this year and put her away fresh.’ So she finished up tonight and she was just as fresh as the day I sat behind her the first time.”

Anikadabra now has five wins from seven career starts, all in the OSS program, for earnings totalling $71,840. The Kadabra-Anikawiesahalee filly, who is a half-sibling to Maple Leaf Trot champion Resolve, was retained by her breeders, Edward Wilson of Seagrave, Ont. and his New York-based partner Michael Pozefsky, with future plans to breed her.

Three-Year-Old Colt Trot

Prince Lee Acres’ homebred P L Jerico pulled off the mild 7-1 upset in the next championship as he wore down the favoured three-year-old trotting colt Muscles For Life to win in 1:55 flat, equalling his lifetime mark for trainer Matt Dupuis.

Recent Simcoe Stakes winner Muscles For Life (Doug McNair) left from post eight and cleared to command at the :27.3 first quarter mark, but driver Mike Saftic sent P L Jerico first-over from fourth through middle splits of :57.1 and 1:26 and overtook the 4-5 favourite in deep stretch to win by half a length. Early leaver Mass Balance (Phil Hudon) finished third.

“He felt good [turning for home],” said Saftic of the Manofmanymissions-Corinas Mission gelding. “I was trying to set up for a nice second-over trip and I thought there would be a little more speed leaving, but we had to come first-up and he’s been a consistent colt all year and it’s nice to get this one done.”

“I was kind of worried coming first-up,” said Dupuis. “This horse has had bad allergies all summer and tonight was nice and cool. Thank God it was, it really helped him.”

Winless in six starts as a freshman, P L Jerico has put together a 5-4-2 record in 16 sophomore starts to earn the bulk of his $94,570 bankroll. Dupuis attributes his improvement to an equipment change.

“We put the hopples on and it just gave him confidence,” said the Rockwood, Ont. horseman. “He only broke once, but he got jammed up in the first turn. Other than that, he’s been flawless.”

P L Jerico wasn’t entered in last Grassroots leg so he will be eligible to compete in the remaining Gold Series event on October 6 at Mohawk to wrap up his season.

Two-Year-Old Filly Pace

Favourite Dudesalady prevailed off a second-over trip to win the Grassroots Championship for two-year-old pacing fillies in 1:54.2.

Jody Jamieson settled Dudesalady mid-pack from post six during a contested :26.2 first quarter and then tipped her outside down the backstretch where she picked up cover in the form of Daenerys Hanover (Paul MacDonell) through middle splits of :56.1 and 1:25.1. Dudesalady rallied three-wide to overtake the leading P L Karis (Chris Christoforou) in the stretch while Anderson Seelster (Jonathan Drury) also followed wide and closed within a neck of the 3-5 favoured filly. Village Jamie (Trevor Henry) finished two lengths behind in third.

“It’s a stakes race final so I wasn’t too worried about catching cover,” said Jamieson of his racing strategy. “It didn’t look like it maybe, but I know Mac’s horse [Daenerys Hanover], they changed the bridle on her. Mac’s been real good with her — he won with her in :55 two Grassroots ago — so I thought he didn’t want to sit third so I wasn’t too worried about catching cover. He didn’t go as far as I like, obviously, but this mare was so good last week, she really impressed me. I think it was probably her best start of the year last week. Susie [Kerwood] kept her good all week and she came back and just repeated what she did last week.”

Owned by M And L Of Delaware LLC and Victoria Dickinson, the Shadow Play-Accountable filly joined Susie Kerwood’s stable at the end of August and has pushed her win count to five for her freshman campaign in which she has banked $61,910 in eight starts.

“She’s a very nice filly,” said Kerwood. “I think she’s going to turn out to be a real good three-year-old filly.

“She takes care of herself like no other. She’s very laid back. She makes my job easy.”

Three-Year-Old Filly Trot

Appearing to be locked in down the backstretch, driver Trevor Henry was able to maneuver 3-5 favourite Magical Steph into contention and she launched home to score in 1:55.4, defeating her three-year-old trotting filly foes for the championship title.

Trevor Henry had Magical Steph firing out from post six among a trio of early leavers and settled in the pocket behind divisional point-leader Myretirementticket (Jody Jamieson) during the :26.3 first quarter. Magical Valentine (Jack Moiseyev) was then flushed first over from fourth on the way to the half in :56.1 and she blew by Myretirementticket with Anneli Hanover (James MacDonald) in pursuit to three-quarters in 1:25.4. Around the final turn, Henry was able to tip the locked-in Magical Steph second-over and she rallied off cover down the stretch, with Roadmapper (Mike Saftic) closing to her outside for second. Magical Valentine finished third.

“I thought she wasn’t going get out,” admitted the Kadabra-I Like Stephanie filly’s trainer and owner Gary Lance. “After she got locked in around the last turn, I didn’t think she was getting out. But she’s got quite a bit of trot when she gets clear sailing.”

A back-to-back winner after taking her 1:55.3 career mark in the Semi-Final last week, Lance noted that Magical Steph is in top form.

“We took her to Ohio State University last year and got some work done on her in January and she didn’t come out of the surgery very well,” explained Lance. “So she had some infection in her hock and had to go back in for more surgery. So she’s been a long time coming. She’s the best she has been all summer right now.”

Magical Steph now has four wins from nine starts this year and nine victories overall. The lion’s share of the purse lifted her bankroll to $134,400.

She will try her luck against the Gold fillies next week (October 2) at Flamboro Downs.

Two-Year-Old Colt Trot

Many A Man displayed a quick turn of foot down the backstretch to take the lead on the way to securing his Grassroots Championship title for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings.

Driver Randy Waples had Many A Man on the move at the :28.1 first quarter mark and the divisional point leader powered to command down the backstretch. He reached the half in :58.3 and three-quarters in 1:28.2 while Radical Road (Rick Zeron) fanned three-wide off fading cover. Many A Man continued to lead into the stretch with Radical Road closing in and Santini splitting those two from the pocket. However, Many A Man held on to win by half a length in 1:57.3. Santino finished second and Radical Road was third over the quick-closing Zorgwijk Rocket (Joe Hudon Jr.).

“He’s just a really nice horse,” said Waples after the race. “He’s knows what he’s supposed to be doing out there and he likes to do it. We stayed out of the first quarter, which is kind of nice and then I was able to remove off of a cheap quarter, but he still had to come a fair ways to do it. Then he had to gut it out again down the lane. He knew how to do that too; he put his ears forward and off he went.”

Many A Man has earned all five of his career wins in the Grassroots Series, with his latest a lifetime-best clocking. He now has $64,940 earned in nine career starts.

The homebred Manofmanymissions-Armbro Sylvie colt is owned by the Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. of Windsor, Ont., C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio, and Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, Ont.

Waples had nothing but praise for the colt’s Hall of Fame trainer Bob McIntosh, referencing the horseman’s wealth of knowledge and talent for developing young horses.

“He [Many A Man] was really nice from the first time I sat behind him, but he was just a little bit ‘greener.’ And now, he just seems like he’s progressing to the point now where he’s kind of old hat out there now,” said Waples. “He’s really, really learned a lot, but that’s nothing new for Bob. They always seem like at the end of the year, that’s when they’re at their very best. He might give up a little bit of early money, but he always seems like he’s the guy that gets all the late money. This year, once again, he did it with this guy.”

Lady Shadow Wins Milton Stakes

Lady Shadow continued her career-year amidst the Grassroots Championships, adding the $311,000 Milton Stakes to her impressive list of accomplishments for trainer Ron Adams.

James MacDonald picked up the catch-drive on the millionaire Shadow Play-Lady Camella mare and earned his second straight victory in the event. He drove Venus Delight to victory in the 2015 edition over Lady Shadow.

“When you’re lucky, you’re lucky,” said MacDonald of his back-to-back wins in the Milton. “Last year, I was lucky enough to pick up Venus Delight and she was razor sharp at the time, and tonight, Ronnie asked me to drive ‘Lady’ and she’s tough as whale bone so I’ve been lucky.”

Leaving from the inside post, Wrangler Magic (Sylvain Filion) secured the early lead through a :26.4 first quarter with Frost Damage Blues (Jack Moiseyev) tucking into the two-hole ahead of 3-5 favourite Lady Shadow. MacDonald then sent Lady Shadow after Wrangler Magic down the backstretch and battled head-to-head with the front-striding mare past the half-mile mark in :54.4 before pulling clear. Lady Shadow proceeded to three-quarters in 1:21.4 with Frost Damage Blues advancing up to second, but Lady Shadow began to open up on top turning for home and earned her ninth win of the season in 1:50 flat. Yagonnakissmeornot (Louis-Philippe Roy) came on for second and Waasmula (Trevor Henry) finished third.

“When you’re 2-5, you kind of hope to get some respect. I know Sylvain wanted to stretch me out a little bit, but it doesn’t matter to her,” said MacDonald. “I’ve seen her go some of the craziest trips you could ask a horse to go this year. She got stung pretty hard tonight and she’s just such a good mare, she overcame it.”

“Everyone is here to play hardball,” noted Adams. “I was a little worried going to the half — she was parked pretty good and pressing — but she’s gone big trips like that and I was confident in the lane she as going to hang tough.”

Lady Shadow also boasts stakes wins in the Roses Are Red, Golden Girls and Lady Liberty this year.

“She’s definitely having a career-year,” said Adams, who trains Lady Shadow for owners David Kryway, Carl Atley, Edwin Gold and the Bfj Stable. “She’s just been tough and stayed tough the whole year and she’s just getting better, I think, with every start.”

Lady Shadow is being pointed to the second weekend of stakes at The Red Mile’s Grand Circuit meet next.

Three-Year-Old Filly Pace

As the Grassroots Championships resumed, driver James MacDonald made his way back to the winner’s circle with the Mark Steacy-trained three-year-old pacing filly champion Forever Liza.

MacDonald secured a second-over trip with the Bettors Delight-Forever Cam filly after a series of early lead changes and prevailed in a photo finish.

Divisional point leader Noone To Depend On (Jody Jamieson) put up a 27-second opening panel before being looped by Windsun Glory (Doug McNair) at three-eighths, with Free Show (Trevor Henry) coming on and clearing past the half in :55.1. As Free Show raced on to three-quarters in 1:23.4, Forever Liza tracked the cover of Top Royal (Phil Hudon) and then kicked home in :27.4 to collar Free Show in 1:52.2. Selling The Dream (Rick Zeron) closed from the backfield to match Free Show’s strides in a dead-heat finish for the runner-up honours. Windsun Glory finished three-quarters of a length behind.

“She got a good trip. I was in behind Phil and he was grinding first-up and when I moved her, she went on,” said MacDonald in a post-race interview. “Last week [in the Semi-Finals] she blew by and today she was struggling to get there, but she got there and I was happy with her.”

After making just three starts as a freshman, Forever Liza has blossomed into a seven-time winner in 16 starts this year, lifting her bankroll over the $100,000 mark for owner Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Que.

Three-Year-Old Colt Pace

Arsenic continued the favourite trend in the Grassroots Championships with a wire-to-wire victory in the Glamour Boy division for trainer Scott McEneny.

Driver Doug McNair left for the lead with the 8-5 pari-mutuelly popular Bettors Delight-Shes Poison gelding from post six into a :27 first quarter and was prompted to the half in :54.2 by the first-up divisional point-leader, St Lads Moonwalk (Jody Jamieson). However, Arsenic shook off that rival on the way to three-quarters in 1:23 and cruised home for the one and a half length victory in 1:51.1, equalling his lifetime mark that was taken in last week’s Semi-Finals. Continual Hanover (Randy Waples) and Inspiration View (Trevor Henry) came on for second and third, respectively.

“I was just going to see how he felt,” said McNair of Arsenic facing the mid-mile challenge from St Lads Moonwalk. “If I had to let him go, I would have, but I just kind of chased him and he swelled back up when he got beside me, so I decided to leave him out and it worked out for us.”

Arsenic has earned his four sophomore wins over the last two months and now has eight career wins from 22 starts and earnings of $184,600 for his owners, including McEneny’s wife Michelle and their partners Brad Grant and Teresa Davidson of Milton, Ont.

“Last year, he raced in the Golds and they started him off this year in the Golds,” noted McNair. “He’s come a long way in the last four or five starts. He’s a real fast colt, you know, when he qualified this year, he came a quarter in :25.1 or something crazy. He’s got the speed, but it took him a bit of the year to get rolling and it’s the right time of the year for him.”

Two-Year-Old Colt Pace

The Stephane Larocque-trained pacing colt Tymal Peacemaker closed out his eight-race two-year-old campaign and the Grassroots Championships with a 1:52.4 score.

Driven by Sylvain Filion, 2-5 favourite Tymal Peacemaker swept to command from third after a :26.4 first quarter. The Mach Three-Flying Color colt then cruised through middle splits of :56 and 1:24.2 en route to the two and a half length victory. Bet On Brett (Rick Zeron) followed in second off a pocket trip while The Dark Shadow (Jody Jamieson) advanced first over to finish third.

Tymal Peacemaker won his last four starts of his freshman season and boosted his bankroll to $67,000 for owner Bayama Farms Inc. of Saint-Andre-D’Argenteuil, Que.

“He’s unbelievable. He raced really good his last four starts and we’re really happy with him for next year,” said Larocque. “He’s still learning, but it’s very encouraging for next year.”

Larocque said that the Grassroots champion will now head back to Yves Filion’s Bayama Farms for a break and to prepare for his three-year-old season.

To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results – Mohawk Racetrack.


(Standardbred Canada)

Darling’s Five Grassroots Contenders

September 21, 2016 – Trainer Jack Darling shipped five pacing colts to Mohawk Racetrack for the Grassroots Semi-finals last week and all five will return to the Campbellville oval on Saturday, Sept. 24 for the $400,000 Grassroots Championships.

“I just trained all five of them this morning (Wednesday) and they all trained as good as they can,” said Darling of three-year-olds Continual Hanover and St Lads Moonwalk and two-year-olds Master The View, The Dark Shadow and Trident Seelster. “It’s just very tough; both divisions are very tough this year. We need a little bit of racing luck.”

Reigning division champion St Lads Moonwalk will need the largest serving of luck, as he gets the outside Post 10 for his third straight start over the Mohawk oval. On Sept. 1, in the last regular season Grassroots event, driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville guided the Mach Three son to a head victory from Post 10, and in last Friday’s Semi-final driver Jody Jamieson of Moffat teamed the colt to a runner-up finish from the outside post, just a neck behind winner Arsenic.

“It’s just bad luck, so you just kind of roll with the flow,” said a philosophical Darling. “It’s going to be tough from there, but we’ll see what happens.”

Continual Hanover won his Semi-final, his third straight victory, posting a 1:51.2 clocking for Jamieson. Milton resident Randy Waples will steer the Bettors Delight son from Post 7 in Saturday’s $50,000 Championship, while Jamieson is back in the race bike behind St Lads Moonwalk. The three-year-old pacing colts square off in the ninth race on the program.

The two-year-old pacing colts wrap up the Championship in Race 10, with The Dark Shadow (Shadow Play) and Jamieson starting from Post 3, Waples sending Master The View (Vintage Master) out from Post 5 and Saftic teaming Trident Seelster (Big Jim) from Post 7. The Dark Shadow and Master The View finished second and fifth behind Tymal Peacemaker in last Thursday’s Semi-final round and Trident Seelster was fourth in the other split, won by Bet On Brett.

“The Dark Shadow, he’s my best shot in the two-year-olds. He’s just a really nice colt, but there again it’s a tough division,” said Darling, who also owns all five colts. “And the other two, nice colts too, but we’re just fighting for a cheque with them.

“But you never know, it’s a horse race,” added the Cambridge resident.

Since narrowing his focus to Ontario Sired young horses in 2012, Darling has consistently ranked among the top 10 trainers in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, with his stable of 15 to 20 horses earning more than $400,000 in the last three seasons.

“I just don’t like the travelling so much anymore, as far as racing. I just kind of like to stay close to home,” the trainer explained. “So I just decided to put my money into the Ontario Sired program, and just try to buy the best Ontario Sired yearlings I can and go from there.”

Each fall Darling sells his three-year-olds at the end of their stakes season and acquires eight to 10 yearlings. He was among the leading buyers at the season opening Canadian Yearling Sale on Sunday, Sept. 18, acquiring sale topping pacing colt Brunos From Mars (Mach Three) for $105,000 and pacing fillies Warrawee Templar (Shadow Play) for $42,000, Write Me A Song (Sportswriter) for $47,000 and Northern Roulette (Shadow Play) for $50,000.

“I’m a little ahead of schedule,” said Darling with a chuckle. The horseman will also be shopping at the Lexington Selected Sale Oct. 4 to 8, the Forest City Yearling Sale on Oct. 23 and the Harrisburg Yearling Sale Nov. 7 to 11. “You just never know how it’s going to work out. It just turns out that I found a few that I really liked and the prices were okay, so I got them bought. Sometimes you go and things just don’t click, you just can’t quite find what you want, and then when you do, they just maybe go for a little bit too much.”

Darling will get the youngsters started and then hand them off to colleagues while he and wife Ann head to Florida for their annual winter break. By the first of April the group will be reassembled at Classy Lane Training Centre in Puslinch and Darling will be doing what he enjoys most.

“Racing horses doesn’t excite me like it used to,” admitted Darling, who has been training since he graduated from Exeter’s South Huron District High School in 1972. “I just like the babies, I like buying the yearlings and training the two-year-olds and racing the two-year-olds. That’s what I like to do.”

With five hopefuls prepping for Saturday’s Grassroots Championship, Darling’s focus on buying Ontario Sired yearlings and doing the work he enjoys most is clearly paying off.

Grassroots Championship Night gets under way at 7:30 pm, with the eight Finals slated as Races 2 through 6, 8, 9 and 10. The $311,000 Milton Stakes for aged pacing mares, dominated by former Ontario Sires Stakes stars, goes postward as Race 7.

In addition to the on-track excitement, those arriving early will receive an Ontario Racing t-shirt with their program purchase and fans can play the popular Ontario Sires Stakes Trivia Spin and Win game. On Thursday, the SC website will open the first of two online Handicapping contests in concert with the Ontario Sires Stakes Championship events, with $1,500 in cash prizes up for grabs in the OSS Grassroots Pick 8.

To view the entries for Saturday night, click on one of the following links: Saturday Entries – Mohawk RacetrackSaturday Program Pages (courtesy TrackIT).

(with files from OSS)

(Standardbred Canada)

Zeron Nabs 8,000th; Faves Grab Gold

August 19, 2016 – One of harness racing’s most popular drivers, Rick Zeron scored his 8,000th career driving victory Thursday night at Mohawk Racetrack.

Zeron, 59, entered the evening just a single win shy of the milestone. Driving three-year-old pacing filly Dixie Lullaby in the evening’s seventh-race, Zeron was able to get the filly up in the final strides for the milestone victory.

Nicknamed “The Whip”, Zeron has been a regular driver and trainer on the WEG Circuit for over two decades. The Oakville , Ontario resident has consistently posted impressive numbers throughout his career, including driving the winners of over $3 million in 14 of the last 16 seasons.

Zeron, who won his first race at Rideau Carleton Raceway in 1975, was the top driver in Quebec for many years before relocating to Ontario in 1995. His career best season for wins came in 1989, when he won 437 races and captured another Quebec driving title.

Zeron’s best season for earnings was recorded in 2006, when he drove the winners of over $7.7 million. Last season, he put together another solid campaign with 126 wins and earnings of nearly $3 million.

The past few weeks have been memorable for the Zeron’s, as Rick’s son, Scott, won the Hambletonian with Marion Marauder on August 6th. The father-son duo also teamed up to capture the U.S. Pacing Championship with Rick’s stable star Shamballa on the same day.

A model of consistency, Rick Zeron is on pace for another solid season with 71 victories and earnings of over $1.4 million. He currently ranks ninth in the WEG Drivers standings and sixth in the Trainers standings.

Thursday’s card also featured a number of high profile trotters, as they did battle in a set of OSS Gold Series divisions for three-year-old fillies plus the final of the Define The World Series for two-year-olds.

On the heels of her second-place finish in this year’s Hambletonian Oaks, Caprice Hillpowered to a 1:53.1 in her $105,000 OSS Gold Series division for the tandem of driver Randy Waples and trainer Tony Alagna. The daughter of Kadabra-Bramasole sat second through the opening quarter before marching to the top in the backstretch. She cleared and cut middle fractions of :57 and 1:26 before turning on the afterburners. A :27.1 closing quarter earned Caprice Hill the win by 2-1/4 lengths over Emoticon Hanover. Dottie was third.

Tom Hill of Hamilton, Ont. owns the 11-time winner who owns a 4-3-0 record from seven starts this season. The lion’s share of the loot lifted her lifetime earnings to $931,877.

Flowers N Songs was a popular winner, as well, in her $105,000 assignment for the team of driver Doug McNair and trainer Paul Reid. After getting away fourth, she held that position to the half before tipping into the flow and then making a three-wide move toward the lead at the three-quarter pole. With fractions of :26.3, :56 and 1:25.1 in front of her, the homebred powered home in :28.2 to win by four lengths over Tymal Tempest in 1:53.4. Major Muscle, who set the first three fractions, faded to finish third.

Paul Reid trains the daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe-Pleasures Song for owner/breeder Bob Key of Leechburg, PA. The filly has faced the gate 20 times this year, and she managed to produce an 8-6-1 record while banking over $325,000 along the way.

Seven And Seven, who captured the opening leg of the Defind The World Series before finishing second in leg two, powered home in :26.3 to capture the $36,000 final in 1:58.2 for trainer/driver Tom Durand.

The veteran horseman had the rookie positioned third for the majority of the mile before putting him into sprint mode around the final turn. AWOL Hanover and Jake took turns on the lead through first-half fractions of :30 and 1:01, but Seven And Seven showed a short lead while racing parked at the three-quarter pole in
1:32, and his blazing, final quarter speed helped him earn the half-length decision over Jake. Cant U Spell finished third.

Tom and June Durand bred and own the colt with partner Allan Smith. The group has watched the youngster put together a 2-1-0 record in his first four starts while banking $29,620 along the way.

(With files from WEG)

Trot Heavy Card At Mohawk

August 16, 2016 – It wasn’t an all-trot Monday evening at Mohawk Racetrack, but it was pretty close. The oval featured a 10-race card, with seven of those dashes designated for square gaiters.

Dream Together captured the richest race on the card – the $37,000 final of the Pure Ivory Series – for the tandem of driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Luc Blais. The heavily-favoured filly marched to the lead from Post 4 and successfully led the group through panels of :28.2, :58.2 and 1:28.2 before kicking home in :27.4 to win by 2-3/4 lengths over Pure Kemp in 1:56.1. Southwind Tesla was third.

Determination of Montreal, QC owns the two-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill-Danae, who made it a clean sweep of the event following facile wins in the first two legs of the series. Purchased for $240,000 from last year’s Lexington Select Yearling Sale, the youngster has produced a 3-0-1 record in her first four assignments while banking $34,180 in the process.

Determination, Blais and Filion also celebrated a victory with Lookslikeachpndale, who upset heavily-favoured Musical Rhythm in the $34,000 Preferred Trot. Filion hustled his charge to the lead from Post 6 and they led the group to the quarter pole in :26.4. Race favourite Musical Rhythm shot out of third when they hit the backstretch, and he cleared to the lead before hitting the half in :55.4. He was the leader at the three-quarter marker in 1:25.1, but he couldn’t fend off Lookslikeachpndale in the closing strides. Lookslikeachpndale fired home in :27.1 to win by a length over Musical Rhythm in 1:52.4. O Narutac Perfetto took home the show dough.

It was the third win of the season in nine trips to the track for the four-year-old son of Muscle Hill-Poster Pin Up. The lion’s share of the loot bumped this year’s earnings to $79,582 while his career total climbed to $206,488.

There were four OSS Grassroots divisions on tap for two-year-old trotting fillies, with each tilt carrying a purse of $18,000.

Powerful Mission overcame a challenging trip to win by a comfortable margin for driver Phil Hudon and trainer Kevin St. Charles. The filly parked past the half before fining the front in the backstretch. She led the group to the three-quarter pole in 1:28.3, and then slipped home in :29.2 to win by 4-1/2 lenghs over even-money favourite You Cant Afford Me in 1:58. Late Shift, who was first-over in the late stages of the mile, was third.

It was the second win in four tries for the career-winner of $18,700. The daughter of Manofmanymissions-The Power Of Magic is owned by E C S Racing LLC of Rockford, MI.

Stuck In My Spanks was an overwhelming favourite in the second division, but she rolled into an early break and appeared like she might be out of it. The filly was more than 23 lengths from the lead at the half, but she kept chipping away for driver Paul MacDonell who eventually fired her five-wide coming out of the last turn. The daughter of Manofmanymissions-Puta Ring On It stormed home in :28.3 to win by a half-length margin over Jilona. Third prize was earned by Hilarious Honey.

Michelle McEneny and Teresa Davidson own the two-time winner, who was purchased for a mere $3,500 from last year’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale. She’s closing in on $20,000 in lifetime earnings.

Anikadabra blew away the foes she faced in the third division. Rick Zeron has her fourth and parked past the quarter pole in :28.4 before stepping on the accelerator and rushing to the front end. The filly cleared to the top on the way to the half, and after leading the group through middle intervals of :59 and 1:29.3 she out-kicked them home in :29.2 to win by 5-3/4 lengths over Crystal Gumdrop. Third prize was earned by Stritch.

Rob Fellows trains the homebred daughter of Kadabra-Anikawiesahalee for Edward Wilson of Seagrave, Ont. and Michael Pozefsky of Saratoga Springs, NY. Her lifetime earnings now sit at $27,840.

Magic Presto, who posted a win and a second-place finish in her first two starts versus OSS Gold Series foes, cruised to an easy triumph in the final Grassroots contest on the card. She got away fourth and held that position through first-half fractions of :29 and 1:00. Trevor Henry moved Magic Presto shortly past the half, and the son of Kadabra-In The Mean Time easily swept to the top shortly after Hab Faith hit the three-quarter pole in 1:30.1. Magic Presto uncorked a :28-second closing panel to win by 4-3/4 lengths over Royal Witch, with Northern Oath taking home third prize.

Sent off as the 1-9 favourite, the Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman student won for the second time in three starts for Mel Hartmann, Herb Liverman, David Mc Duffee and Little E LLC. Purchased for $160,000 from the 2015 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, Magic Presto has recovered $61,500 of her steep price tag.

To view results for Monday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Mohawk Racetrack.

(Standardbred Canada)