CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — St Lads Popcorn and her two-year-old pacing filly peers sweep back into Campbellville on Monday for their second last $120,000 Gold Final.
Although three Gold Final trophies already grace the mantle in trainer Jack Darling’s Cambridge home, driver Jason Brewer is not taking anything for granted heading into Monday’s contest. St Lads Popcorn will line up from Post 9 in Mohawk Racetrack’s fifth race, and Brewer says there are three or four horses he considers significant threats to the filly’s Gold Final crown.
“They are all tough, or they wouldn’t have made the final,” acknowledges Brewer. “Anything can happen in a horse race.”
Shacked Up, favoured to win the Sept. 19 Gold Final at Mohawk, the other elimination winner Cheap Motel, and Northern Duchess, who finished a half length behind St Lads Popcorn in last week’s elimination, are all on Brewer’s list of potential usurpers. Shacked Up and driver John Campbell will start from Post 5, Cheap Motel and Randy Waples get Post 8, and Mike Saftic will steer Northern Duchess from the outside Post 10.
With two of those fillies to his left and one to his right, Brewer will wait until the wings close to determine his strategy, exploiting St Lads Popcorn’s versatility to its fullest degree.
“You can drive her with two fingers,” notes Brewer. “If you need to leave with her, she can leave, but she’ll race from anywhere. She’s been that way from the beginning, she’s actually probably got even better.”
Through nine starts the daughter of former Darling trainees Twin B Champ and Hot Butter has posted seven wins, one second and one fourth for earnings of $316,323, with all but one of her starts coming in the Ontario Sires Stakes program. Brewer has driven the filly in all nine starts, but says he has played a minor role in her impressive season.
“It’s her doing all the work,” says the reinsman. “I’m just grateful Jack let me drive her, and I’m glad she’s as good as she is.”
Brewer adds that the young pacer’s size and strength have helped St Lads Popcorn maintain her winning form over the three months since she made her debut in the July 11 season opener. He also says Darling and his staff have done a tremendous job managing the filly, from maintaining her confidence to crafting her schedule.
“She’s a nice big filly. That helps a lot, she covers the ground really good,” he explains. “She has a great attitude for a two-year-old filly. To go to Rideau three times, all the way from Mohawk, and still try, and still put out 100 per cent, that’s impressive.”
St Lads Popcorn and nine rivals will square off for $120,000 in the fifth race on Monday, while six fillies who failed to make the final compete for a $20,000 in the Gold Consolation in Race 2. Grin Goddess, who captured the Sept. 19 consolation for trainer David Poley of Mount Hope and his partner Harold Poley of Brampton, will be looking to repeat from Post 6.
Mohawk Racetrack raises the curtain on its Monday evening program at 7:20 pm.
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