Upsets were the name of the game as the three-year-old 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.

For complete results please visit Woodbine Mohawk Park Results — Monday, May 28, 2018