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JULY 18, 2018 - Grand River Raceway hosted its first Ontario Sires Stakes event of the season on Wednesday evening and local drivers Bob McClure and Doug McNair swept six of the nine Gold and Grassroots divisions. McClure teamed up with trainer Keith Jones of Barrie and owner Douglas McCarthy of Holland Landing, Ontario to sweep both of the three-year-old trotting colt and gelding Gold divisions. In the first $94,800 split McClure left strongly from Post 3 with Henderson Seelster and settled the colt in second as Sicario sprinted out to a :28 quarter, :58.3 half and 1:28.1 three-quarters. In the stretch McClure sent Henderson Seelster around the tiring pacesetter and the colt powered home to a one and one-quarter length victory in 1:57.2. Heavy favourite Run Director was second and Barney Mac rounded out the top three. "Both of Keith's are really good on a half, he has them set up and good gaited, so half-miles are an advantage to those two for sure," noted McClure. "Henderson can get a bit hot, so the pace didn't slow down very much and when he got out, he really exploded out of the hole, I didn't expect it, but he raced super. I was really happy with him." Henderson Seelster did not race in the Ontario Sires Stakes as a two-year-old, but in three sophomore starts at the Gold Series level the son of Holiday Road has now tallied one seventh, one third and one win. Wednesday's triumph boosted the trotter's lifetime earnings to $102,454. The second $95,600 Gold division saw McClure fire Joey Bats out of Post 6 and control the tempo, laying down fractions of :28.3, 1:00 and 1:29.2 on the way to a two length victory in 1:58. Fan favourite Stormont Ventnor was second and Winning American finished third. "He's a really nice horse to drive," said McClure. "At Woodbine Mohawk (Park), the stretch sometimes gets a little long for him, but he's really good gaited and he's really manageable and, like I say, he gets around a half like a hoop on a barrel, so I expected him to race good today and he did, we were really moving going into that last turn. "He got cheap fractions, which didn't hurt, but he did race really well," the Elora resident added. "Once he got the half in a minute I figured they'd have to do some racing to catch him." Like his stablemate, Holiday Road gelding Joey Bats did not race in the Ontario Sires Stakes last season, but he now has one win, one third and one seventh to his credit through three Gold Series appearances this season, boosting his earnings to $107,140. McClure completed the Ontario Sires Stakes hat trick in the fifth $18,450 two-year-old pacing filly Grassroots division, guiding Royalty Again to her first lifetime win in a 1:59.2 clocking. Favourite Rella Tivity was one-half length back in second and Sugar Shadow, driven by Doug McNair, was third. "She had a lot of racing luck which never hurts," admitted McClure. "It couldn't have worked out any better for her, but when she did get room she paced forward, so you can't knock her, she won." McClure crafted the victory for trainer Leon Mansfield and Antonia Smith of Strathroy, Ontario, who offered up $6,000 for the Royal Mattjesty daughter at last fall's London Selected Yearling Sale. McNair collected his three Ontario Sires Stakes wins in the Grassroots divisions, guiding Bens Jenna, Kylie Seelster and Sports Flix to victory in the first, sixth and seventh splits. Bens Jenna recorded the quickest mile of the seven divisions, hitting the wire in 1:57.1, one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Ideation Hanover and Paris Rose. Ron Adams of LaSalle conditions the Mach Three daughter for David Kryway of Amherstburg and 1362313 Ontario Ltd. of Windsor, Ontario, who acquired the filly for $16,000 from the 2017 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. Kylie Seelster paced home in the second fastest time, fighting off a top-of-the-stretch challenge from Whitehaven Beach to reach the wire two lengths the best in 1:57.4. Favourite Whitehaven Beach settled for second and Karans Choice was third. Gregg McNair of Guelph trains Kylie Seelster for his partner Keith Waples of Puslinch and Dr. Chris Robson of London, Ontario. The trio purchased the filly from the London Selected Yearling Sale last fall for $44,000. "The first filly is a handy little filly and she raced good, that was a good trip," said Doug McNair about Bens Jenna. "The second filly (Kylie Seelster) raced tough. She's been off a couple of weeks, so it was another impressive mile tonight." One race later the McNairs returned to the winner's circle with Sports Flix, who paced home one and one-half lengths ahead of favourite Lady Maya and Southwind Thundra, driven by McClure, in 2:00.3. James Fraleigh of Dresden, Ontario owns the daughter of Sportswriter and $1.3 million winner Moving Pictures, offering up $13,000 for her at the London Selected Yearling Sale. "She's been getting better since her first qualifier (June 29) and she got a good trip tonight," said McNair. "They didn't go as much as the rest, but she got the job done." The other three Grassroots divisions went to Better Now in 1:59.1, Jessicas Legacy in 1:58 and Twin B Friendly in 1:58.3. Heading into the evening's final race, a preferred trot, tied with three wins each, McNair and McClure put on a show for Grand River fans. First and second turning for home, McClure urged favourite Katch Kanna home to a one length victory in 1:59, leaving McNair to settle for second with pacesetter Spartan Victory. "Me and Dougie both had three going into the last. He cut the mile and I got by him late, and I was doing some chirping, I think," said McClure with a chuckle. The two-year-old pacing fillies make their third Grassroots start on August 20 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, while the three-year-old trotting colts will make their fourth Gold Series appearance on August 26 at Rideau Carleton Raceway. Grand River Raceway's second Ontario Sires Stakes event is on Monday, August 6, when the third three-year-old pacing filly Grassroots event will be part of the Elora oval's annual Industry Day celebration. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

JULY 16, 2018 - Grey skies parted to reveal a double rainbow and Ontario Sires Stakes hopefuls evolved into Gold Series winners as the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings made their provincial debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday evening. Capturing the first $52,200 Gold Series division was Lifetime Royalty and driver Doug McNair, who eased away from Post 7 and used a late sprint to propel them to a one and one-quarter length victory in 2:01. Fan Favourite Knight Angel also closed well over the rain-soaked surface to be second, while pocket-sitter Isnt He An Angel was third. "We paid for him to be a good colt, and he trained down like a good horse all winter. I was always very high on him," said trainer Scott McEneny, who offered up $100,000 for the youngster at last fall's Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. "That's a good way to start the season." The Waterdown resident shares ownership of Lifetime Royalty with Brad Grant of Milton and Martwest Racing Stable of Mississauga, Ontario. The son of Royalty For Life and Cha Cha Glide has two relatives that have earned more than $1 million - American-bred What The Hill and former Ontario Sires Stakes star Majestic Son - and McEneny had a bold circle around his name in the Lexington sales catalogue. "I loved him, he was a gorgeous colt at the sale, and I just said to Brad, I said I'd really like to take him home, and we did," the trainer recalled. "We had to pay for him - $100,000 for first crop Ontario Sired was pretty good money -but he was just gorgeous, he looks the part, and he always has been the part." Prior to Monday's victory, Lifetime Royalty had posted runner-up finishes in his June 25 and July 3 qualifiers and in a July 9 two-year-old conditioned event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, giving him an early season bank balance of $29,600. The second division saw driver Louis Philippe Roy employ similar tactics with Dream Nation from Post 5. The pair got away near the back of the pack and then advanced up the outer lane, taking control around the final turn. Through the stretch the fan favourites drew away to a four and one-half length victory in 1:59.4. Tymal Tullo was second and Tennessee Titan finished third. "There's some young trotters that can get aggressive a little bit, so they drive you more than you drive them, but this one, he'll do what you want," said Roy, who drove the Archangel gelding to the win for trainer Jacques Dupont and owners Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, Ecurie CSL of Sorel-Tracy, Gestion C. Levesque 2015 Inc. of St-Hyacinthe and Marc Camirand of Montreal., Quebec. "I trained him maybe four or five times with Jacques, even before qualifying him, and every time, just perfect attitude, doing what you want." Flawless through his June 25 qualifier and a July 2 two-year-old conditioned event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Dream Nation has earned back $33,100 of his $42,000 purchase price from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. The third division saw another come-from-behind performance from fan favourite Southwind Avenger and driver Trevor Henry, who sat fifth through the first half of the mile and then accelerated up the outer lane to a three and one-half length victory in 1:59.4. Henry engineered the victory from Post 8 for New Jersey-based trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and owners Mel Hartman of Ottawa, Ontario, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, Florida and Little E LLC of New York, New York, and the veteran reinsman found the victory uniquely satisfying. "I always liked the colt, when he was a yearling I went and looked at him at the sale, but I knew we wouldn't be able to afford him," explained the Arthur, Ontario resident. "I always had in the back of my head, at least if he turns out I'll have shot to drive him, because I liked the colt, I watched videos of him, I really liked him." The hammer fell at $77,000 for Southwind Avenger at the Lexington sale and the colt delivered a pair of qualifying victories at Harrah's Philadelphia before shipping north to compete in the Ontario Sires Stakes. The final division saw an impressive late sprint by Forbidden Trade land reinsman Bob McClure in the Gold Series winner's circle for the first time in his career. Starting from Post 8, McClure and the son of Kadabra and former Ontario Sires Stakes superstar Pure Ivory hit the wire in 1:59.2, reeling in Tymal Houdini and fan favourite Jumpshot. "I've had about six seconds, but no (Gold) wins," explained the 27-year-old reinsman, who drove the colt to the win for trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination of Montreal, Quebec. "He almost over trotted coming out of the turn, but it's his first lifetime start, and once he got his head down and going he was doing some trotting." A $110,000 purchase from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale, Forbidden Trade delivered a 28 second last quarter to earn the victory. All four colts will have an opportunity to add to their provincial resume in the second Gold Series event on July 29 at Georgian Downs. On Thursday the three-year-old trotting colts make their first Grassroots stop at Woodbine Mohawk Park, competing in Races 5 and 8. Thursday's first race goes behind the starting gate at 7:30 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

JULY 15, 2018 - One night after hosting the Grassroots season opener for the two-year-old trotting fillies, Georgian Downs rolled out the red carpet for their Gold level peers, who stepped up the tempo as they battled for a total of $200,000 in three divisions. HP Titania Runner captured the first Gold Series victory of the freshman trotting filly season with a 1:58.3 effort that saw her get away mid-pack from Post 7 and then power up the outer lane to catch pacesetter Angies Luckeylady. Accelerating down the stretch, HP Titania Runner opened up a five and one-quarter length lead over fan favourite Angies Luckeylady and Warrawee Ultra. Louis Philippe Roy piloted the E L Titan daughter to the win for trainer Rene Bourassa of Fergus, Ontario and owner-breeders Claude Hamel of Ayer's Cliff and Michel Damphousse of Louiseville, Quebec. Three races later, Roy was back in the Ontario Sires Stakes winner's circle after guiding Cambridge Kate to a 1:58.3 score. Starting from Post 6 Roy eased the Royalty For Life filly away from the gate and settled her in seventh as fan favourite Shesa Sweetheart led the field to a :28.4 quarter and a :58.4 half. Heading for the 1:28.3 three-quarters Roy sent Cambridge Kate into the outer lane and turning for home the filly rolled out around the two horses in front of her and stormed to a one and three-quarter length victory. Champagne Jane and Witches N Angels also reeled in Shesa Sweetheart to earn second and third-place honours. "She's got lots of speed, I think she's got lots of speed," said trainer Carl Jamieson of Cambridge Kate. "She can leave too, I mean he didn't leave there at all tonight - and I was a little worried when he got away next to last - but she really closed excellent." Rockwood resident Jamieson conditions Cambridge Kate for his partners Glengate K Farms of Erin and Dr. Robert Boyce of London, Ontario. The partners acquired the filly from the 2017 London Selected Yearling Sale for $44,000 and she has banked $35,280 with a win and a third in her first two starts. "She's been good all along. Since the day we broke her she's had no problems whatsoever," noted Jamieson. "Anybody could train her all winter, like going sets, she didn't make breaks or nothing, she's always trotted good." Trainer John Rier felt the same way about Giving It All through the winter and the filly rewarded his confidence with a 2:00.2 victory in the last $66,400 division. Starting from Post 5, Giving It All and driver Mike Saftic took command early and trotted through fractions of :29.4, 1:01 and 1:30.4 before battling down the stretch to a three-quarter length victory over fan favourite Petro Hall and Pyrrha. "She raced good, she's a very good gaited filly," said Campbellville resident Saftic. "The track's a little deep there, a lot of the other fillies were having a hard time, but she was good. We got her good fractions and she gutted it out down the lane." Kitchener resident Rier shares ownership of Giving It All with his brother Randy Rier of Hanover. The brothers offered up $12,000 for the Angus Hall daughter at last fall's London Selected Yearling Sale and have recouped $36,700 with one win and one second through the filly's first three starts. "I don't know how fast she'll end up being, but she's got that nice gait, and she's got gate speed, and she moves real nice," noted Saftic, who has driven the filly in all of her races and qualifiers. "We'll see down the road, but we'll take that one." Giving It All, Cambridge Kate, HP Titania Runner and their peers will make their second Gold Series start on July 27 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The Ontario Sires Stakes spotlight remains on Georgian Downs this week as the Innisfil oval hosts the Grassroots season opener for the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Tuesday, July 17. The colts and geldings will compete for a total of $55,700 in Races 2, 5 and 8. The evening's first race rolls in behind the starting car at 7:15 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

Milton, ON - Thursday night marked the Ontario Sires Stakes debut of the two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, and fans at Woodbine Mohawk Park witnessed three dominant performances by the Gold division winners. Stag Party set the bar high in the first $68,000 division, powering out from Post 10 to take lead before the :27 opening quarter. Driver Doug McNair of Guelph, Ontario allowed Sunshines Finest to circle around Stag Party and set the tempo through the :56.1 half and 1:25.1 three-quarters, but when McNair opened Stag Party up in the stretch the colt laid down a :26.4 final quarter to secure the victory in 1:52.1. Sunshines Finest finished two and one-half lengths back in second while fan favourite Bettors Wish was five more lengths back in third. "From Day 1 he's always shown me he has that extra gear and winning attitude in him," said trainer Casie Coleman. "I think I got some nice colts, but he's always stood out from the rest." Cambridge resident Coleman conditions the son of Bettors Delight and My Lady Day for John and Jim Fielding of Toronto, Mac Nichol of Burlington and Kevin McKinlay of Holland Landing, Ontario. The partners acquired Stag Party at the 2017 Harrisburg Yearling Sale for $125,000. "I decided to downsize a lot, and a lot of my owners all wanted this horse and it ended up that I couldn't own any of him, and I own a piece of everything," Coleman told Woodbine Mohawk Park's Jason Portuondo in the winner's circle. "I had to beg and plead to be able to get a piece of this horse from them after I picked him out, and one of them let me in a little piece of him, but that's how much I like him is like, I can't train this horse and not own him." The win was Stag Party's second in two starts; he was also victorious in a July 3 overnight at the Campbellville oval, an outing that followed qualifying victories on June 15 and 25. The second division saw Bronx Seelster and driver Trevor Henry follow a similar path to the winner's circle. Moving strongly off the gate from Post 9, Henry dropped the Big Jim son onto the rail in third and was content to watch Maintenance Man roll through fractions of :26.3, :55.4 and 1:24.2 before asking his colt for another gear in the stretch. Bronx Seelster responded with a :27.4 final quarter that saw him draw away to a five and one-half length victory in 1:52.2. Coleman trainee Sporty Mcsportster finished second and Maintenance Man settled for third. "He's a nice colt, very handy and easy to drive," said Arthur, Ontario resident Henry who climbed onto the colt's race bike for the first time on Thursday and delivered a first-time Gold Series victory to trainer Wayne McGean. Sydney Mines resident McGean trains Bronx Seelster for his partners in the Capers 3 Stable of Sydney, Nova Scotia. The group offered up $22,000 for the colt at last fall's London Selected Yearling Sale and have already recouped their investment, plus $15,500. The final division saw fan favourite Caviart Rockland deliver the fastest mile by a two-year-old in Canada so far this season, and the third fastest in North America. Starting from Post 2 the Sportswriter son and driver Marcus Johansson landed in fifth as Cant Be Better and Sports Charm duelled to a :27.3 quarter, then tipped into the outer lane heading for the :56.3 half. Steadily reeling in the leaders Caviart Rockland was just a length back at the 1:24.2 three-quarters and then proceeded to power down the stretch in :27.2 to a four and three-quarter length victory in 1:52. The Regulator and Coleman trainee Better Earl also closed well to be second and third. "I liked this colt from the get go, and he seems like he is actually a nice one," said Marcus Johansson from the winner's circle. "He's a little green and he was running in a little bit in the turns so I actually wanted to be first up, because I didn't want to be on the inside on the turn, so it kind of worked out good, and I knew if I asked him to go he would respond," the reinsman continued. Thursday was Caviart Rockland's first start after a trio of qualifiers at The Meadowlands. New Jersey-based Nancy Johansson trains the talented youngster for owner-breeders Caviart Farms of Vienna, Virginia. The freshman pacing colts will make their second Gold Series start on July 23, returning to Woodbine Mohawk Park. On Friday evening the Grassroots level two-year-old pacing colts will test their mettle over the Woodbine Mohawk Park surface, competing in Races 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 11. The colts kick off the Friday evening festivities at 7:30 pm. From the Ontatrio Sire Stakes

JULY 9, 2018 - Harness racing fans got their first look at the 2018 two-year-old pacing filly crop at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday night and the fillies delivered impressive performances in all three $66,400 Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series divisions. Taking the quickest tour around the Campbellville oval was Deb, who was able to sprint up the inside to a 1:53.2 clocking in the second division. Driven by Arthur, Ontario resident Trevor Henry, the Sportswriter daughter crossed the wire one and one-half lengths ahead of Skyhigh Ambition and fan favourite Quebec Blue Chip. "That's her first two-year-old start of the year, so it's nice to see that," said trainer Dr. Ian Moore of the filly's victory. "It's very rewarding and very satisfying for me as a trainer, and Janice Hubbard looked after her all winter, it's satisfying for her as well." Acquired at last fall's London Selected Yearling Sale for $24,000, Deb blossomed over the winter into the kind of filly Moore and owners Jim and Wilma MacKenzie of Ennismore, Ontario could only imagine last October. "I liked her at the (Seelster) farm and I liked her even more at the sale itself," recalled Cambridge, Ontario resident Moore. "She was kind of a gangly filly, but you know, you look at yearlings and sometimes you can look at them and you can kind of visualize or maybe imagine what they might look like come this time of year. So she started out as very rough, coarse, gangly, just poking along on the trot filly, and grew into a really beautiful, nice, big, tall filly, lovely filly." Deb Moore initially went to look at Deb as a yearling because her mother is a half-sister to his current three-year-old pacing colt Atomic Seelster, and it was also a family connection that led trainer Tony Beaton to Better Single, who captured the first division on Monday. "I wanted to get a Betterthancheddar baby to train, because I did a lot of work with Cheddar back when I was at Casie's (Coleman), and we kind of had a bond together," Beaton explained. "So I was hoping to help out his career too, you know, if possible." Betterthancheddar daughter Better Single was a favourite of Beaton's throughout the winter and delivered on her promise with a 1:54.3 effort on Monday. In rein to Guelph resident James MacDonald, the fan favourite paced home one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Revival Cards and Medici Hanover. "She always trained good, she showed some signs that she was going to be an okay filly, we just weren't sure how good she would be, but she's shown us that she's a pretty decent filly, right now anyway," said Waterdown, Ontario resident Beaton, who shares ownership of the filly with David Mercer of Sydney, Nova Scotia. The pair offered up $17,000 for Better Single at the London Selected Yearling Sale last fall. "She's got a real nice gait to her and she's actually, I didn't think she was as big as she is until I seen some of the fillies that we were in against tonight, and she kind of towered over them a little bit," added Beaton with a chuckle. Better Single Arriving in Campbellville off a third-place result in a 1:51.3 mile at The Meadowlands, fans were right to send Disturbed Hanover off as their top choice in the third and final Gold division of the night. The filly held on for a 1:53.4 victory, one length ahead of fast-closing Crisp Mane and Summer Charm, who finished in a dead heat for second. "I was relieved to win with this filly tonight," admitted driver Jody Jamieson. "I took a chance taking off a (Dave) Menary horse, Summer Charm, which I don't like doing, but I felt my best chance to win was with this girl. It almost backfired on me as Dave (Menary) had her (Summer Charm) quite good in finishing second. "Bart gave me a perfect reflection of what to expect from his filly," continued the Moffat, Ontario resident. "And she performed perfectly." Jamieson engineered the win for trainer William "Bart" Dalious and owner The Wiz Kids Stable LLC of Dover, Delaware. A modest $10,000 purchase at last fall's Harrisburg Yearling Sale, Disturbed Hanover has already netted her owners $34,400. The Big Jim daughter is a half-sister to former Gold Series competitor Drachan Hanover, a winner of $492,027 in his racing career. Disturbed Hanover The talented two-year-old pacing fillies will return to Woodbine Mohawk Park for their second Gold Series start on July 20. On Tuesday evening (July 10), the Grassroots contingent of two-year-old pacing fillies will take their place on the Woodbine Mohawk Park stage, competing in Races 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10. Tuesday evening's program gets under way at 7:30 pm. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

Milton, ON - JUNE 26, 2018 - When the harness racing trotter Run Director crossed the finish line at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Tuesday evening, the three-year-old colt did more than just collect an Ontario Sires Stakes blanket and a share of the $97,200 Gold division purse. "I named him after this lady, Mary Ann Edwards, she is our run director. We have a run for cancer and we've made $8.5 million in the last 13 years - we made $1.05 million this year - and she's the dynamic person behind it," explained owner-breeder Tom Rankin. "So I'm very happy for her, I named the horse after her." The Rankin Cancer Run, which was founded by Edwards and supported from the start by Rankin Construction, is held annually in St. Catharines and is unique in that all of the money raised remains in the community. With his first stakes win Run Director paid a fitting tribute to Edwards and the impact that the run has had on cancer care in the Niagara Region. Run Director's victory was also meaningful for the Rankins because he is a fourth generation product of their breeding program. Tom and his wife Elizabeth acquired the colt's great-grandmother Armbro Mink in 1992 and the mare and her offspring have given the St. Catharine's residents nine $100,000-plus winners over the last 26 years. "We've had some good horses out of the family, but this guy might be the best," stated Rankin, adding that he was a little nervous before the race after watching his US-bred colt Alarm Detector make a costly break in a stake race in Pennsylvania on Saturday. "Tonight I'm on pins and needles after one horse makes a break - and he went off as the second favourite. You never know in horse racing." Fortunately heavy favourite Run Director was easy on Rankin's nerves as he took command of the race before the halfway marker and never faced a challenge, cruising home a four and one-quarter length winner in a personal best 1:55. May 28 Gold Leg winner Tinas Majesty finished second and early pacesetter Henderson Seelster was third. Milton resident Sylvain Filion drives Run Director and Ben Baillargeon of Guelph conditions the son of Kadabra and Keep The Spirit. The win was the second lifetime for the colt and boosted his career earnings to $86,160. Run Director's next start will come in the third Gold Leg at Grand River Raceway on July 18, but after finishing third in his elimination and sixth in the final of the Goodtimes Stakes in just his sixth and seventh lifetime starts the colt will have a few more opportunities to pit his skills against North America's best. "I didn't stake him to the Hambletonian. Ben said, 'Do you want to race against Alarm Detector?' and I said, 'No'," recalled Rankin with a chuckle. "But I've got him in the Canadian Trotting Classic and I think he's in the Breeders Crown, so I do have him staked, because I had (Super Final winner) R First Class last year and I didn't have him staked to anything, and I said I'm not making the same mistake." Unlike Run Director, Stormont Ventnor will have to settle for competing against his Ontario Sires Stakes peers for the remainder of the season. Coming off a fifth in his elimination and a second in the final of the $266,000 Goodtimes, last year's two-year-old Grassroots champion laid down a sharp 1:54.2 effort in the second Gold division on Tuesday, but does not have any other open stakes engagements on his schedule this summer. "He just has pretty much the Sires Stakes now. We paid him into the Goodtimes just in case he stepped up to be a Goodtimes horse, which he did," said trainer Kevin Benn with a chuckle. "But we didn't pay him into anything else." Caught in the outer lane after starting from Post 7, Stormont Ventnor powered to the lead heading for the :57.3 half and never relinquished control on his way to the 1:54.2 victory. Perfetto closed hard to be second, one and one-half lengths behind the fan favourite, and early pacesetter Mister Magic was third. Guelph resident Phil Hudon drives Stormont Ventnor for Napanee-based Benn and owner-breeder Eric Baker of Long Sault, Ontario. Tuesday's win was a satisfying result for the son of Justice Hall and Lady Grenville, who made an early and uncharacteristic break in the Gold Series season opener and finished eighth. "He got too hot on the gate. He was on it too long and he just got mad," said Benn of the May 28 miscue. "So we just brought him in a little bit later, he should be no problem, I hope." Never worse than second in six Grassroots starts at two, Stormont Ventnor will be looking to replicate that record in the three remaining Gold Series events and the season-ending Super Final. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday, June 29 with four Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old pacing colts, slated as Races 3, 5, 7, and 10 on the 7:30 pm program. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

Milton, ON - JUNE 25, 2018 - Driver Chris Christoforou, Jr. had a foolproof map to the Woodbine Mohawk Park winner's circle in Monday night's Gold Series event for three-year-old trotting fillies. Lining up from Post 5 in both $96,400 divisions, the Campbellville resident employed near identical tactics to land Magical Glider and Illusioneesta their first-ever Gold Series harness racing wins in matching 1:55.4 clockings. "Luck. Luck, that's it, that's the only thing I can think of," said Christoforou in the winner's circle. "But it worked out good both trips." In the first division Christoforou and Magical Glider were 11 lengths off the pace when Miss Loo Loo Belle and trainer-driver Per Henriksen reached the opening quarter in :57.4. As Miss Loo Loo Belle carried on to a :57.4 half, Christoforou sent Magical Glider into the outside lane behind fan favourites Alexus Eh and driver Steve Byron. Making steady progress forward, Alexus Eh was less than one length behind Miss Loo Loo Belle at the 1:27 three-quarters and Magical Glider was right on her heels. Seven fillies turned for home in a tight group, but when Christoforou showed Magical Glider open racetrack the daughter of Glidemaster found a whole new gear and powered away to a three and one-quarter length victory over Uvie Hanover and Apprentice M. The 1:55.4 clocking was almost four seconds faster than the 1:59.3 the filly had recorded in a Grassroots victory at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 7. "When she won the Grassroots she won easy and Chris said there was no sense going any faster," noted Waterdown, Ontario resident Dustin Jones, who trains the long-legged filly for owner-breeder Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc. of Lakefield Gore, Quebec. "She's had four starts, two wins and two seconds, so she shows up to race anyway." Unraced at two due to a season-ending injury, Magical Glider trained well all winter, but it was not until he qualified her on May 14 that Jones realised he had a serious Ontario Sires Stakes contender on his hands. "Any time we trained her faster, she would do it, but she would have to chase the other filly (stablemate Fly Fly Selena) you know," Jones explained. "And then when I qualified her, the first qualifier, she won her qualifier in 1:59 and I go, Holy Cripes I can't believe she just did that. "We didn't expect her to be doing what she's doing now, I thought she'd just make money in the Grassroots, so it's a pleasant surprise," he added. In the second division Christoforou and Illusioneesta followed an almost identical path to the winner's circle. Getting away fifth from Post 5 they tipped into the outer lane before the half, following fan favourite Sorceress Seelster and Stormont Chef, and were sitting fourth at the three-quarters. Magical Lady did most of the work on the front end, clocking a :27.3 quarter and a :57.2 half before being overtaken by Sorceress Seelster at the 1:26 three-quarters, but neither filly could withstand the late stretch challenge from Illusioneesta, who powered home to a three-quarter length victory. Sorceress Seelster settled for second and Stormont Chef rounded out the top three. "She plugs on and don't give up, and that's her forte you know," said trainer Per Henriksen. "She's up there every time. She can't leave that much, but then she makes it up down the stretch instead." The win was the dainty filly's first in Gold Series action, but Illusioneesta is no stranger to provincial competition. She started in all five regular season Gold events at two, never finishing worse than fourth, and claimed third-place honours in the season ending Super Final. In 10 freshman starts she earned $106,922 for owners Harbor Racing Stable LLC of Aurora and Asa Farm of Norwood, Ontario and through her first six sophomore stars she boasts a record of three wins, including the May 19 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association Stake, and three seconds for earnings of $143,746. "She didn't grow that much, she's still kind of small-ish, but she is stronger and she can do a little more than she could last year," said Henriksen. "But I mean she made $100,000 last year and we were all happy - never won a race and made $100,000 - and this year she is plugging on and making us a lot of money and we are all happy." Both fillies will make their next Ontario Sires Stakes start in the third Gold Leg at Georgian Downs on July 21, with Jones planning an additional start for Magical Glider in the coming weeks. Henriksen says Illusioneesta is content training at the farm and will go directly to the July 21 event without an extra start. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Tuesday, June 26 with two Gold Series divisions for the three-year-old trotting colts. The colts will square off in Races 4 and 6 on the Tuesday evening program, which gets under way at 7:30 pm. From the OSS

MILTON, ON - JUNE 23, 2018 - How good is Jimmy Freight? Driver Louis Philippe Roy is not sure; he thought he had seen the best of the colt in his first six starts this season, but the three-year-old pacer stepped it up a notch in Saturday's $96,400 Gold Series win at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "He's always been really good, Jimmy Freight, and tonight I think he was better than he's ever been. He felt so good going down the stretch, could have gone a little bit faster," Roy told Woodbine Mohawk Park's Chad Rozema in the winner's circle. "Like I said, tonight is the best he's ever been, and if you would have asked me how he was a week or two weeks ago I would say he's very good. I didn't know he could be better than what he was actually, so tonight he really impressed me again." Starting from Post 6 Jimmy Freight got away fourth as Levis Day led the field of seven to a :26.1 opening quarter, but Roy was not content to sit for long. He had the heavy favourite on the lead before the :54.2 half and by the 1:22.2 three-quarters the pair had opened up a two length gap on the field. Making it look easy, Jimmy Freight extended that margin to six and three-quarter lengths by the finish and clocked a new personal best 1:49.2. St Lads Neptune finished second and Levis Day took home third-place honours. Roy drives the son of Sportswriter and Allamerican Summer for trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch and owner Adriano Sorella of Milton, Ontario. Jimmy Freight now boasts a sophomore record of five wins, one second, one third and earnings of $151,900 through seven starts. In addition to Saturday's Gold Series triumph he was also victorious in the Gold Series season opener at Flamboro Downs on May 20 and in his Somebeachsomewhere division at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 2. "He's a nice horse, I don't know what to tell you, he makes everything so easy," said Moreau. "If he races every week I never get to train him, I just jog him, that's all. "And if you jog him you wouldn't be able to say he is a stake horse or what he is, because all he does is trot out there," added Moreau with a chuckle. "You can't even push him to pace unless you put the hopples on." The easygoing Jimmy Freight will make his next Gold Series start at Rideau Carleton Raceway on July 22 and has been invited to the August 11 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park in Ohio. Roy also captured the $125,000 three-year-old pacing filly Gold division, steering heavy favourite Shower Play to another one of her trademark come-from-behind victories, reaching the wire one length ahead of Big Thong and Write Me A Song in in 1:51.1. "She didn't have a really good trip tonight, because I was kind of shuffled back in the last turn, so I was scared a little bit that I may be a little bit too far," Roy told Rozema. "But once I moved her, she just, just by herself, she switched to sixth gear and rally home." Rockwood resident Rene Dion conditions Shower Play for his partners Susanne Kerwood of Rockwood, Ontario and Martin Leveillee of St-Blaise-Sur-Richelieu, Quebec. The victory bumps the Shadow Play daughter's sophomore record to three wins and one second in four starts. In addition to Saturday's Gold Series victory, her first, the filly was also victorious in the $415,000 Fan Hanover final on June 16 and the Grassroots season opener on May 31, both at Woodbine Mohawk Park. She will be back in Gold Series action on July 20 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Like Shower Play, Sharp Action Money used a late sprint to capture the other three-year-old pacing colt Gold division. Starting from Post 6 Sharp Acton Money got away seventh and tipped into the outer lane where he watched as four different horses rotated onto the front end. At the three-quarters, sitting three and one-half lengths off the pace in fifth, driver Sylvain Filion shifted Sharp Action Money into overdrive and the gelding sprinted home in :27.3 to claim a one-half length victory over Sports Legend and Taste Of History. "This horse has been racing really, really good, I wasn't just able to give him the right trip, and tonight fortunately we were able to get the right trip," said Filion from the winner's circle. "When I saw a bunch of leavers I took back, got a third-over, and it worked out pretty good." Milton resident Filion crafted the trip for trainer Murray Brethour of Sunderland and his partners Tony Basile of Toronto and Daniel Sarafian of Unionville, Ontario. The win was the Sportswriter son's second of the season and his first in Ontario Sires Stakes action. Ontario Sires Stakes excitement continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday, June 25 with two Gold Series divisions for the three-year-old trotting fillies. The program gets under way at 7:30 pm and the fillies will compete in Races 3 and 8. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

Milton, ON - JUNE 4, 2018 - Alexus Eh made her Ontario Sires Stakes debut in the first of two Gold Series divisions at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday evening and the three-year-old trotting filly recorded her fourth win in an early season that has come as a pleasant surprise to her connections. As a two-year-old Alexus Eh did not qualify until late August, and while her effort was solid it was also five to eight seconds slower than the miles her peers were delivering in provincial competition at that point in the season. As a result, trainer David Byron of Thornton and his partners James Cantelon of Thornton, David Cantelon of Bolton and Craig Wallwin of Barrie, Ontario decided the best strategy was to delay the filly's racing debut until her three-year-old season. "She just wasn't developed enough, and she was going to be late, so they just decided they wouldn't rush her," explained the filly's regular driver, and David's brother, Steve Byron. "So they just waited 'til this year. There was no big issue." The decision to wait has proven to be a wise one as Alexus Eh has now logged four wins and one second in her first seven starts. Monday's Gold Series victory, for a purse of $94,800, boosted her lifetime earnings to $75,250. Starting from Post 2, Steve Byron settled Alexus Eh into fourth spot as Miss Loo Loo Belle took the field of six Gold Series hopefuls to a :28.1 opening quarter. Heading into the backstretch Byron sent the Holiday Road daughter after the lead and Alexus Eh hit the half-mile marker in :57.4. A 1:27.4 three-quarters and a steady effort in the face of a significant headwind through the stretch saw the fan favourite trot under the wire one length ahead of Miss Loo Loo Belle, stopping the teletimer at 1:57.4. Smoke And Mirrors completed the top three. "She's been a nice surprise, she's doing everything she's supposed to," said Byron. "She's getting to be pretty handy actually, to tell you the truth. "We're lucky to have her," the Thornton resident continued. "It looks like she's going to be competitive anyhow, I don't think she'll be the best one, but I think she'll race with them, that's for sure." Among the horses Alexus Eh will have to face in the future are 2017 division champion Kadabra Queen and Sorceress Seelster, who faced off from Posts 1 and 2 in the second Gold division on Monday. Sorceress Seelster landed in third and Kadabra Queen in fourth as Dalliance Seelster reached the quarter in :27.3, but driver Scott Wray was not content to sit behind the leaders and quickly sent Sorceress Seelster to the front. Reaching the half in :56.4, Sorceress Seelster had opened up almost four lengths on the field by the 1:26.1 three-quarters and was able to maintain that margin through the 1:56.1 finish. Illusioneesta closed hard to be second, leaving Kadabra Queen to settle for third. In the winner's circle trainer Jack Wray thanked Woodbine Mohawk Park outrider Joanne Colville for her assistance in the post parade and escorting the fractious Sorceress Seelster back to the winner's circle. "She's got a mind of her own, and it don't work too well sometimes," said Wray on a laugh. "But there's speed there to work with." The London resident shares ownership of Sorceress Seelster with Thomas Wray of Schomberg and said son Scott perfectly executed the game plan for the filly's second sophomore start. "We had a little trouble with her laying on the outside line a little bit, so we wanted to move early and get back to the rail, and let them try and catch us," noted the elder Wray. Sorceress Seelster also opened her two-year-old campaign with a Gold Series win at Woodbine Mohawk Park and added a pair of second-place results to her resume before tailing off due to breaks in the late season. Monday's outing was her second of the 2018 campaign and boosted the Holiday Road daughter's lifetime earnings to $151,670. The three-year-old trotting fillies will make their second Gold Series start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 25. Next up on the Campbellville oval's Ontario Sires Stakes schedule is the Grassroots opener for the sophomore trotting lasses, which goes postward on Thursday, June 7. Post time for Thursday's program is 7:30 pm and the fillies will compete in Races 2, 5 and 7. From the Ontario Sire Stakes  

MAY 28, 2018 - Upsets were the name of the game as the three-year-old harness racing trotting colts and geldings made their Ontario Sires Stakes debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday evening. The favourites in both $97,200 Gold Series divisions made early mistakes that left the door open for their less celebrated peers, and Jula Downton and Tinas Majesty took full advantage. In the first division fan favourite, and 2017 Grassroots champion, Stormont Ventnor went off-stride as the gate swept away from the field of nine, leaving front-end control to rail sitter Joey Bats. Joey Bats and driver Bob McClure rolled through fractions of :28.2, :57.4 and 1:26.4, maintaining a robust distance in front of pocket-sitter Jula Downton. However, turning for home driver Louis Philippe Roy sent Jula Downton into the outer lane and the colt found a whole other gear, pulling away to a two length victory in a personal best 1:54.3. Run Director closed sharply to finish second and Joey Bats settled for third. "That was the third time I was sitting behind him," noted Roy from the winner's circle. "Last time he had some steering issues and down the stretch I worked on him like maybe half the stretch just to try to get him out and I couldn't get him out, couldn't get him out, and once he cleared he was flying, so I thought tonight if he was going to steer a little bit better that he had a good shot at it." Jula Downton was a Grassroots winner as a two-year-old and also tested his mettle against the Gold Series colts. He arrived in trainer Susanne Kerwood's barn in late April and the Rockwood resident has been impressed with the son of Kadabra and Abbey Craig's progress through a May 14 qualifier, May 19 overnight and Monday's Gold Leg. "He was in Florida all winter and the guy who trained him down there (Tommy Andersson) said he really, really likes him. 'He's a nice big colt, he's strong', he says, and he says, 'I think you're going to like him', and he was right," said Kerwood with a laugh. "He can get on a line a little bit and we've been trying to play with the rigging a little bit," Kerwood continued. "I guess he was a little bit like that last year, that's what Tommy was telling me anyways, that he had a little bit of issues last year too. But you know what, I know one thing, he's fast, so we'll keep trying and hopefully I'll have him straightened out one of these days. He wasn't too bad today, he was better today than he was last week." Kerwood conditions Jula Downton for Karljohan Blank of Delray Beach, Florida. Monday's victory boosted the colt's lifetime earnings to $65,440. In the second division it was favourite Perfetto who broke stride heading for the half, leaving lightly rated Henderson Seelster to carry the field to fractions of :27, :55.3 and 1:25.2. Spring Holiday and Tinas Majesty followed Henderson Seelster through the sharp early fractions and when the pacesetter began to falter they tipped into the outer lane. As the colts squared up in the stretch Tinas Majesty had gained a three-quarter length lead and the Majestic Son gelding fought hard all the way to the wire, keeping a very short whisker in front of Winning American. Spring Holiday picked up the third-place finisher's share. Unraced at two, Monday was the first-ever Ontario Sires Stakes start for Tinas Majesty. It was also trainer-driver Dagfin Henriksen's first-ever Gold Series win, and the first Ontario Sires Stakes victory for owner-breeder Shelley Racing Stables of Omemee, Ontario. "He's a homebred, Shelley Racing Stable, they bred this horse," said Henriksen. "And it's the first Gold I ever won. We had some Grassroots winners before, but I never had a Gold winner, so that's exciting." When Tinas Majesty posted his first lifetime victory in an overnight event at Woodbine Mohawk Park on April 26, stopping the teletimer at 1:59, Henriksen was confident that the trotter could compete with the best in Ontario and he was delighted when Monday's finish line photograph proved him right. "He showed me something at two-year-old that I thought he was going to be a decent horse, but I didn't have it in my thoughts that he was going to be a Gold winner first time in the Gold," noted the Cambridge resident. "When he won his maiden - I think that was his third lifetime start or something - when he won his maiden race I could tell I had so much horse left, and I told the owners right after I raced him, I said, 'I think we have a Gold horse, I think he'll be good enough to go in the Gold'." Through six lifetime starts Tinas Majesty now has two wins and two seconds for earnings of $64,800. The second leg of the Gold Series takes place June 26 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. In the coming weeks some of the Gold Series competitors will step up to battle North America's best in the Campbellville oval's Goodtimes Stake, with eliminations on June 8 and the final on June 16. From the Ontario Sire Stakes  

OCTOBER 5, 2017 - Harness racing driver Randy Waples capped off the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series regular season with a pair of victories at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening, using similar tactics to get Draft Year and Kendall Seelster from Post 5 to the winner's circle. On an calm, clear October evening, Waples decided the front end was the best place for fan favourite Draft Year and the decision proved to be a wise one as the Kadabra gelding cruised to a five and one-half length victory in 1:56.4. Chief Justice enjoyed the outer lane windbreak offered by Levitation through the later stages of the mile and then circled around to be second, leaving Levitation to settle for third. "He's a really nice colt, he always has been a nice colt," said Waples from the winner's circle. "Tonight when he left the gate he was going forward and I looked over and Sylvain (Filion with Cousin Rickard) was already grabbing up, so I just kind of kept the whip on his tail and kept his mind on it and he just kept getting faster and faster as the race went on." Milton resident Waples crafted the win for trainer Brad Maxwell of Guelph and owners Doug Millard of Woodstock, Ben Mudry of Toronto, ON, Timothy Murray of Shawville, QC and Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, PA. The win was the first in Draft Year's five race career and it propelled the gelding from fifteenth to fifth in the point standings, giving him a berth in the Oct. 14 Super Final at Mohawk. Draft Year Five races later Waples lined up behind Post 5 for the second time and opted for the same strategy, sending the fans' second choice Kendall Seelster directly to the front. The three-year-old pacing filly rolled through fractions of :28, :56.2 and 1:24.1 and then kicked into high gear in the stretch, sprinting home to a 1:51.3 victory. Firestorm paced into second and Play The Bell closed hard, nudging favourite Percy Bluechip out for third. "Tonight I actually was looking to cut the mile out, I kept making her roll along because I wasn't looking for a re-move with her tonight," said Waples from the winner's circle. "It is the first time she's been in front, but she finished with the plugs still in her ears. "They both were very good, and both seemed strong at the finish," said the reinsman of his pair of winners. Waples piloted Kendall Seelster to the win for trainer Paul Reid and owner 1187422 Ontario Inc. of Ottawa, ON. Thursday's victory was the Shadow Play daughter's fourth of the season and second in Gold Series action, putting her in a tie for top spot in the point standings with three-time winner Percy Bluechip. "I didn't think she'd end up cutting it. With Percy (Bluechip) on the rail I thought we might have a little more tussle getting to the front, but it worked out all right for us," said trainer Paul Reid. "He (Waples) knows the filly and I trust him. He's come in a couple different times and trained her with me, and so he knows her as well as anybody. I know he has confidence in her, so any way he felt to drive her, I was fine with that." Kendall Seelster Reid also picked up a third-place finish in the other $95,600 three-year-old pacing filly Gold division with Just Her Luck, and the trainer is hoping both fillies can maintain their momentum heading into the Super Final. "She's had a little time off too and she finished up good in the end of that, so hopefully we look good going into next week," said Reid. "Sometimes plans work out, sometimes they don't, but right now if I can keep things going the way they are, I'll be happy." Just Her Luck finished a closing third behind winner Easy Three and Lady Grande in the 1:53.4 mile. Lady Grande did all the work on the front end, waging a fierce battle with fan favourite Cardiff, but a late sprint saw Easy Three and driver Jody Jamieson hit the wire on top by a two length margin. Jamieson drives Easy Three for his father, trainer Carl Jamieson of Rockwood, ON, breeder Winbak Farm of Chesapeake City, MD and George Harrison of Preston, England, and the reinsman says the trip to the winner's circle has been a tough one with the daughter of Mach Three. "She's an absolute nut. She's just been a loon ever since Dad threw a harness on her. He's had a real tough time getting her to where I can actually drive her in a race," said the Moffat, ON resident. "Now that he's figured her out exactly, she has some talent. It's hard to say if she can go with the top fillies from the other division, but there's only one way to find out." Thursday's win, her first in 10 starts, boosted Easy Three from sixteenth to fifth in the standings and she will be part of the top 10 point earners competing in the $225,000 Super Final on Oct. 14. Easy Three The other two-year-old trotting colt and gelding Gold trophy went home with Barney Mac, who finished third in the division Grassroots Championship at Mohawk on Sept. 30. Also starting from Post 5, driver Chris Christoforou eased Barney Mac into fifth as Spark A Dream led the field to a :28.3 quarter and a :59.2 half. When former Gold series winner T Barrr swung off the rail into the outer lane, Christoforou sent Barney Mac in his wake and stayed right on that colt's heels as he opened up a gap on the field heading for the 1:29.2 three-quarters. Squaring up in the stretch Christoforou asked Barney Mac for another gear and the gelding dug hard to the wire for his second lifetime victory in a personal best 1:58. T Barrr settled for second, one and three-quarter lengths behind the winner, and Torches Pirate was third. "He's a nice little colt," said Christoforou. "We got a second over trip and he kicked home very well when I asked him." The Campbellville resident crafted the win for trainer Per Henriksen of Norwood and owners Tor Jan Larsen of Norwood, ON and Adv Racing Stable LLC of Pawling, NY. The partners acquired Barney Mac two weeks before the Grassroots Championship and have recouped $53,800 of their investment in just two starts. Although the win would have given him enough points, Barney Mac is not eligible to compete in the Super Final due to his appearance in the Grassroots Championship. Barney Mac The top 10 trotting colts and geldings and pacing fillies will return to Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, Oct. 14, along with the leading point earners from the other six divisions, to compete for a total of $1.8 million in the season ending Super Final. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

OCTOBER 4, 2017 - Ontario's two-year-old trotting fillies wrapped up their regular season at Flamboro Downs on Wednesday and fans of the longshot had a field day as the harness racing favourites faltered in both $94,800 Ontario Sire Stakes Gold divisions. In the opener second choice Sorceress Seelster fired out of Post 4 to an early lead, reaching the quarter pole three and one-quarter lengths ahead of her peers in :28.1. The filly continued to draw away from the field heading for the :57.1 half, but skipped off stride in the third turn and left Allerage Stargazer in brief possession of the lead. Heading into the backstretch for the final time, driver Lyle MacArthur sent Zorgwijk Sophia to the front, reaching the three-quarters in 1:28.2, and the filly was on cruise control from there to the wire. The longest shot in the six-horse field, Zorgwijk Sophia stopped the Flamboro Downs teletimer at 2:00.1. Allerage Stargazer was four and one-half lengths back in second, holding off a charging P L Layla who finished third. Favourite Smoke And Mirrors recovered from a series of breaks to be fourth. St. George Brant resident MacArthur drives and trains Zorgwijk Sophia for Linda Wellwood of St. George Brant and Tammy Aspden of Caistor Centre, ON. With Wednesday's win the Majestic Son daughter jumped into fourth spot in the division standings with 77 points from one win, two thirds, one seventh and one eighth in five Gold Series starts. The victory also more than tripled the filly's earnings, which now stand at $70,824 after eight starts. The second division saw Wayne Henry fire longshot Gotta Pay To Play out of Post 4 and take command of the early tempo. Illusioneesta and Shamrock Shaker took a run at the pacesetter heading by the :29.4 quarter, but Henry refused to yield control and they tucked back onto the rail in second and third. Gotta Pay To Play carried on to a :59.2 half and when heavy favourite Kadabra Queen mounted a challenge rolling off the third turn, Henry once again opted not to concede the lead and just after the 1:30.3 three-quarters Kadabra Queen went off stride. From there Gotta Pay To Play sailed home to a two length victory in 1:59.1. Illusioneesta finished second and Shamrock Shaker was third. Kadabra Queen finished well back in sixth. Arthur, ON resident Henry drives, trains and owns first-time winner Gotta Pay To Play, who had two fifths, one sixth and one seventh-place result in her first four Gold Series starts. The victory bumps the Windsong Espoir daughter up to seventh spot in the point standings and increases her freshman earnings to $62,020. Both Zorgwijk Sophia and Gotta Pay To Play will compete in the $225,000 Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack on Oct. 14, along with the other eight leading point earners, part of the Ontario Sires Stakes program's $1.8 million season finale. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

OCTOBER 3, 2017 - London area harness racing fans got a look at Ontario's talented two-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Tuesday evening as the novices wrapped up their Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series season at The Raceway at Western Fair District. With a berth in the Oct. 14 Super Final at stake, driver Doug McNair and Bo Mach set the tenor for evening in the first $64,800 division, firing away from Post 1 and stacking Jimmy Freight and Burning Midnight up to their right through the opening turn. Bo Mach reached the quarter pole in :27.4, but that was the last fraction he would clock without company. By the :57.1 half Burning Midnight was sitting on his flank and that colt continued to press the pace through the 1:25.4 three-quarters. After a fierce stretch battle it was Burning Midnight with a neck in front of Bo Mach in 1:55.1. Unable to find a way up the inside, frustrated fan favourite Jimmy Freight settled for third, one and one-half length behind the leaders. Louis-Philippe Roy drove Burning Midnight to his first Gold Series win for trainer Corey Giles and owners Brad Gray of Dundas and Denise Guerriero of Toronto, ON. The Mach Three son also captured a Grassroots trophy in his Ontario Sires Stakes debut at Mohawk Racetrack on July 20. The victory boosted Burning Midnight into the top ten point earners and landed him a berth in the $225,000 Super Final. The second division saw St Lads Neptune leave smartly from Post 1 and claim an early lead before ceding to Levis Day before the :28.2 quarter. Yacht Seelster led the charge up the outer lane as Levis Day led the field to a :58 half and 1:26.3 three-quarters, but it was fan favourite St Lads Neptune who slipped out of the pocket and on to a two length victory in 1:55.3 Levis Day stayed game for second and Sharp Action Money closed well for third. "He totally jogged tonight," said driver Jody Jamieson of St Lads Neptune. "He got the best trip possible on a half mile track though, and that really helps." Jamieson drives the Mach Three son for his father, trainer Carl Jamieson of Rockwood, and Thomas Kyron of Toronto, ON. In seven lifetime starts the gelding has tallied five wins, including Grassroots victories at Clinton Raceway on Aug. 27 and Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 4. St Lads Neptune finished third in his Metro Pace elimination at Mohawk on Sept. 16, but came up a bit sick for the Sept. 23 final and finished ninth. "He had a high white blood cell count after the Metro, so that was real disappointing, because I thought he'd go with them," said Jamieson. "Hopefully he stays healthy enough to race them again at the end of the month." Before he heads south for the Oct. 21 Breeders Crown eliminations at Indiana's Hoosier Park, St Lads Neptune will compete in the Oct. 14 Super Final after squeaking into ninth spot in the point standings with Tuesday's win. The winner of the third division will also compete in the Super Final, and trainer Casie Coleman is hoping Western Passage is poised for a strong finish to the season after a mid-summer hiccup caused him to miss six weeks of racing action. "After his second in the second Gold (July 20), I really though he cheated on me and needed to be gelded," said Coleman. "So I gelded him and we lost a lot of time, as he got a lot of complications after and went in for a second surgery. "He's coming around now again, hopefully in time for the Super Finals," added the Cambridge, ON resident. "He's a really nice colt." Starting from Post 4 with driver Doug McNair in the race bike, Western Passage was sitting third when favourite Simple Kinda Man reached the quarter in :29.3, but he did not sit there long as McNair quickly sent the colt after the leader. Although Western Passage had a nose in front at the :58 half Simple Kinda Man did not give way without a fight, and the colts were by the 1:25.4 three-quarters before Western Passage finally took control and powered away from the field to an eight length victory in 1:55.4. Declan Seelster finished second and Hudson Phil closed hard for third. Coleman shares ownership of Western Passage with her partners in the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, along with John and McKinlay Fielding of Toronto and Calhoun Racing Ltd. of Chatham, ON. With one win, two seconds and one seventh in Gold Series action the Sportswriter son finished the regular season in third spot in the standings with 102 points. The top 10 point earners will compete for $225,000 and divisional honours in their Oct. 14 Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack, part of the Ontario Sires Stakes' $1.8 million season finale. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017 - Gregg McNair and Ian Fleming have bred and owned horses together for years, but when two-year-old trotting gelding T Barrr arrived in the harness racing winner's circle at Mohawk Racetrack on Tuesday evening, McNair learned the partnership did not include the newly minted Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series winner. "I asked him if I owned part of him, but he said no. I said, 'I'll be in on this one too, eh,' 'No, no,' he said, 'I don't think so'," related Guelph, ON resident McNair with a laugh. Londesborough, ON resident Fleming purchased T Barrr as a weanling to serve as a pasture-mate for a colt he and McNair had bred. A son of Adam T, who has produced just eight foals, and mare Lewies Lulu, T Barrr was never expected to be a Gold calibre horse, but when it came time to learn the racing ropes he outshone his pasture-mate. "We had an odd number so we wanted another gelding or a stud to run through the winter with the weanlings, so Ian bought him and he ran with the other one. Of course, the other one's no good," explained McNair ruefully. "He ended up being a nice horse. He was in a few different spots last winter and then we got him as soon as we got home from Florida. I think he'd been right around 2:30 when we got him. Everybody that had him liked him, it seemed like he was going pretty good all winter." T Barr made his debut in a July 25 maiden contest at Mohawk Racetrack and finished a fast-closing third, clocked in 1:57.1. On August 1 the gelding made his first Gold Series start, also at Mohawk, and finished fourth. A fourth-place finish in a two-year-old event at the Campbellville oval followed on August 11, but the youngster was scratched out of the August 18 Gold Leg due to sickness. The McNair team spent almost a month restoring T Barr's health and then sent him out against some of North America's top young trotters in the Sept. 11 William Wellwood Memorial Trot eliminations, where he made his first break and finished ninth. Back in Gold Series action on Tuesday evening, driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville lined T Barrr up at Post 3 in the $125,000 contest and had the colt in gear as soon as the starting car's wings folded. The pair hit the quarter in :29.1 and then yielded to Cousin Rickard, who carried on to a :58.4 half and a 1:28.2 three-quarters. Heading by the three-quarter pole, Saftic tipped T Barrr into the outer lane and the gelding powered down the stretch to a four length victory in 1:58. Cousin Rickard settled for second and Torches Pirate was two more lengths back in third. "He got out of there good and we got covered up," said Saftic from the winner's circle. "I didn't know how much we were going to get home, but it was a perfect trip, I pulled early and he win easy enough." "He drew good and things really worked out good for him tonight," added trainer McNair. "He acted like he was going to trot there every week when we first got going, and that's the first time he's been back to that speed. They didn't go a huge mile tonight, I don't think, a nice hot night like tonight, but he was better than the rest of them." The win boosted T Barrr's earnings from $12,544 to $75,044 and his Gold Series point total from eight to 58, putting him in fourth spot in the standings with one regular season event remaining. The freshman trotting colts will wrap up their regular season at Mohawk on Oct. 5, with the top 10 point earners advancing to the $225,000 Super Final at the Campbellville track on Oct. 14. Just 25 points separate the top five colts and Saftic is hoping that T Barrr's current momentum can continue through his remaining starts. "He's definitely going the right direction," said Saftic. "He's as good right now as anyone, I think." While McNair was disappointed to learn that he was not a co-owner of T Barrr, he will have another shot at some Gold Series hardware when Mohawk hosts the regular season Gold finale for the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Monday, Oct. 2. Bills Fella, a horse McNair does co-own with Fleming, will be looking for his second straight victory in the provincial program after earning his first trophy on Sept. 2. Before that, however, McNair will have his attention focussed on this Saturday's Grassroots Championships, which will see the top Grassroots pacers and trotters compete for a total of $400,000 in eight races. The event kicks off at 7:30 pm with the Championship races going postward in Races 1 through 3 and 5 through 9. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 - Two-year-old trotting filly Kadabra Queen scored her fourth straight harness racing Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series win at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday evening, dropping her personal best by a full two seconds. Starting from Post 4 in the $126,600 contest, driver Scott Colter eased Kadabra Queen off the starting gate and dropped into fifth as Illusioneesta battled to a :27.2 opening quarter. Heading for the :57.3 half Coulter tipped Kadabra Queen out behind Collateral Beauty and then sat on that filly's shoulder as she took the field to a 1:26.2 three-quarters. Turning into the stretch Coulter asked Kadabra Queen for another gear and the fan favourite powered home to a three-quarter length victory in 1:55.1. Smoke And Mirrors closed hard to be second and Shamrock Shaker was hot on her heels in third. "I hadn't really had to get into her too deep or race her too tough, you know, usually on the front or up close and tucked away," said Coulter after the race. "Tonight was the first time she had to do any serious work, and fortunately they were rolling down inside pretty good to the half tonight so I was able to collar them, and once she cleared she just swelled up and trotted away." All three of Kadabra Queen's previous Gold Series victories had seen her sit in the pocket well into the race, or control the tempo from the front, but Brantford, ON resident Coulter said he knew almost immediately that Monday's trip would be of a different flavour. "I knew it was only a matter of time before some of the other fillies started to trot off the car with her hard and tonight I could see within two steps there was a handful of them getting out of there as hard, or harder, than she was, and I said this is the time," said the driver. "So it was an easy decision, within moments of the car swinging away I knew that I was not going to be anywhere near the front, I was just going to kind of race her from off cover." The daughter of Kadabra and Queen Street has lowered her personal best in each victory and Coulter is hoping that trend continues through the last Gold Leg at Flamboro Downs on Oct. 4 and the $225,000 Super Final at Mohawk on Oct. 14. The reinsman says the gifted youngster is in excellent condition heading into the season's home stretch after enjoying a month long break following the Aug. 18 Gold Leg. "She's carrying more flesh right now. She put on some weight there and filled out a little wee bit," Coulter noted. "As far as her mannerisms, she's pretty much been that horse from the very get-go, just she's all business, that's what makes her so fun to drive. A lot of two-year-olds there's things you have to worry about and wonder what they're going to do, and she just seems to go to work and that makes her a pleasure." Campbellville resident Chad Milner conditions the filly, who has now earned $215,880 through eight starts for breeder Harness Horsepower Inc. of Campbellville and Frank Monte of Markham, ON. In addition to her four Gold Series wins Kadabra Queen has one second and three thirds in overnight action, with all but her debut coming at her hometown oval. Kadabra Queen Mohawk also hosted two Gold divisions for the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Monday and driver Sylvain Filion triumphed in both divisions, piloting R First Class and Capteur De Reve to victory. Filion also captured three overnight events, giving him a total of five wins on the program. In the first $94,800 Gold division Filion sat second with R First Class through the :27.4 quarter rung up by LMC Mass Gem and then sent the fan favourite after the lead. On top by two lengths at the :57.2 half, R First Class fought off a challenge from Head Turning Jag heading by the 1:25.4 three-quarters and then cruised home to a three and one half length victory in 1:53.2. LMC Mass Gem finished second and Head Turning Jag was third. "He really impressed me again tonight. Every time I sit behind him he seems to be getting stronger and stronger, and tonight he did it all by himself. I tell you the tank wasn't empty at the wire, he was full of himself still," said Filion. "You've got to give credit to Ben (Baillargeon) and his crew, they did a great job with him because at the beginning of the year, he was kind of a sneaky horse, you know, he didn't want to really go to the gate, he'd bail on you, but they got him pretty straightened out. I expect big things from him going forward." The Kadabra gelding heads into the Oct. 14 Super Final in third spot in the point standings with two Gold Series wins and one second for trainer Benoit Baillargeon of Rockwood and owner-breeders Thomas and Elizabeth Rankin of St. Catharines, ON. In 11 lifetime starts R First Class has only missed the top two on one occasion, making a break and finishing seventh in the Aug. 13 Gold Leg at Rideau Carleton Raceway, and Baillargeon is in full agreement with Filion about the gelding's potential. "I think he's going to turn out to be a very nice four-year-old," said Baillargeon. "He's a nice tall horse, but I think as a four-year-old he's going to fill out a little more, and I think he's got everything to be a real nice horse." R First Class In the second $95,600 division, Filion employed come-from-behind tactics with Capteur De Reve, waiting until he was rolling off the final turn to ask the Muscle Mass son for a second gear. Capteur De Reve battled to a head victory in a personal best 1:55, holding off Dream Massive. Blameitonthewhisky stayed game for third after a tough trip that saw him parked to the half and forced to check his momentum when On First went off stride while sitting second. "He's a gutsy little horse. We got a little lucky, you know, there was a bit of confusion at the half and the pace kind of slowed down all of sudden and we were able to get a covered up trip until halfway around the last turn," said Filion, who piloted Capteur De Reve to the win for trainer Maxime Velaye and owner-breeder Ecurie Provoquante of Mirabel, QC. "He kicked home real good; he did what he had to do." The win boosted Capteur De Reve into sixth spot in the standings with two wins in two Gold Series starts. The top 10 point earners will return to Mohawk for their $225,000 Super Final on Oct. 14. Capteur De Reve Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series action continues at Mohawk Racetrack on Tuesday evening with one $125,000 division for the two-year-old trotting colts. The colts will compete in Race 5 on the midweek program, which gets under way at 7:30 pm. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 - Shadow Moon and Jimmy Freight earned their second Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series wins at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening, putting a little distance between themselves and their harness racing two-year-old pacing colt peers in the division point race. In the first $97,200 Gold contest driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON sent Shadow Moon directly to the front from Post 7 and the pair led the field through fractions of :27.1, :56.4 and 1:24.4. In the stretch it appeared that fan favourite Declan Seelster would collar Shadow Moon, but the pacesetter dug in for a neck victory in 1:53. Declan Seelster and Avalon Hanover, both trained by Dave Menary of Cambridge, ON, finished second and third. "I said to Trevor, 'He all right', because he almost got beat there, and Trevor said, 'Well he kind of waits for them'. He watches for them, he turns his head and watches for them. He has a Murphy blind on the outside and he likes to take them on when they come," said trainer Dr. Ian Moore of Shadow Moon's narrow victory. "He's like that when I'm out jogging, if somebody comes along in a hurry, he'll take them on jogging." The win was Shadow Moon's second in Gold Series action and his fifth of the season. His only loss came in the August 19 Gold Leg when he was caught at the wire by Declan Seelster. In addition to his Gold victories the Shadow Play son captured a Grassroots trophy in his July 10 debut and a division of the Nassagaweya Stakes on August 26. "He's just gotten better and better over time. He's only a little guy, he's not real big, but he has the desire and grit to go," said Dr. Moore of the Gold Series point leader. "He's about the same size as ($2 million winner) State Treasurer was as a two-year-old, he's got the same kind of attitude as him, so hopefully that will carry him a long way." Puslinch, ON resident Dr. Moore shares ownership of Shadow Moon with R G McGroup of Bathurst, NB, Serge Savard of St-Bruno, QC and Gordon McComb of Fall River, NS. The partners offered up $60,000 for the youngster at last fall's Harrisburg Yearling Sale and have recouped $195,337 to date. Shadow Moon will make his seventh lifetime start in the Metro Pace Eliminations at Mohawk next Saturday, Sept. 16. "We're very happy and we are going to try the Metro," said Dr. Moore. "That was six races tonight, so hopefully there's a couple more in him. "It's hard to keep them going at that level for that long, I've always found anyways. When I think about it, I've only had one horse that was as good at the end of November as he was the first of May, and that was Shadow Play," added the horseman, who trained sire Shadow Play through his $1.5 million racing career. Shadow Moon Saturday's outing was rival Jimmy Freight's ninth of the season, and marked his seventh trip to the winner's circle. The son of Sportswriter started his career with five starts on the Iowa fair circuit, winning all five, and since being purchased by Milton, ON resident Adriano Sorella and arriving at Mohawk he has tallied two Gold Series wins, a third-place finish to Declan Seelster and Shadow Moon in the August 19 Gold Leg and a runner-up finish behind Shadow Moon in an August 11 overnight. In Saturday's $96,400 Gold split, regular reinsman Jonathan Drury of Guelph, ON sent Jimmy Freight to the front from Post 4 and faced immediate pressure from favourite Western Passage and driver Yannick Gingras. Drury opted to drive on and Jimmy Freight paced through fractions of :27.1, :55.2 and 1:24.1 on his way to a one and one-half length win in 1:52.3. Simple Kinda Man closed hard to be second and Sharp Action Money was third, giving sire Sportswriter a sweep of the top three. "His (Gingras') horse got running out pretty good in the first turn there and didn't really want to clear, so I figured I might as well keep going. I was able to get a little breather in the third-quarter and I think that helped a lot," said Drury of the colt's winning effort. "He's a real handy little fella, you can get out of there quick with him and he just settles right down as soon as you clear and you can do whatever you want." The win bumped Jimmy Freight's lifetime earnings to $118,526 and his Gold Series point tally to 112, 13 points behind Shadow Moon and 37 ahead of Declan Seelster. Jimmy Freight The two-year-old pacing colts will wrap up their Gold Series regular season at The Raceway at Western Fair District on October 3 and the top 10 point earners from the five regular season events will advance to the $225,000 Super Final at Mohawk on Oct. 14. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at the Campbellville oval on Monday, Sept. 11 with two Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old pacing colts. The first race goes in behind the starting gate at 7:30 pm and the sophomore pacing colts will compete in Races 4 and 7. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

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