CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — Last season Burlington, ON resident Mac Nichol made his first appearance on the Ontario Sires Stakes leading owner’s list, propelled into third spot through the efforts of a talented trio of two-year-olds.

As the 2011 season shifted into high gear this week, all three of those performers returned to stakes action, and Nichol is hoping trotting colt Sim Brown, pacing colt Mystician, and pacing filly Monkey On My Wheel can carry on where they left off last fall.

“It’s always exciting, this time of the year,” says the owner. “The three-year-olds are coming back, and then all the stakes races — the Ontario Sires and the other stake races — are coming up. It’s what everybody waits for I guess, once mid-May comes until about mid-November.”

On Sunday night Nichol’s attention will be focused on Mohawk Racetrack where trotting colt Sim Brown will make his sophomore debut in the second of three $40,000 Gold Series Eliminations. The Angus Hall son heads into the elimination off a 2:00.1 runner-up effort in qualifying action at Mohawk, and Nichol is hoping that May 16 effort, while not ideal, was satisfactory preparation for the winner of $143,040.

“We’ve just had one qualifier with Sim Brown. We were hoping to get two in, but we ran out of time, so we had to go right in there just with the one qualifier. Hopefully he can just hang in there to qualify for the final,” notes Nichol, who shares ownership of Sim Brown with trainer Jeff Gillis of Hillsburgh, ON and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, NY.

“Sim Brown was a little sick there a couple weeks ago, so it kind of set us back a bit, but he went pretty good in his qualifier,” Nichol adds. “When you haven’t raced for seven or eight months it’s always nice to get two qualifiers before you go into a stake race, but he drew pretty good in there, that’s always a bonus.”

Regular reinsman Randy Waples of Milton, ON will steer Sim Brown from Post 2 in the fourth race, and the pair will face off against six other contenders. Among the hopefuls are Twin B Herbie (Post 1), who heads into the race off a 1:56.3 runner-up effort in overnight action at Woodbine Racetrack on May 12, Lakefield (Post 3), who is four for four this season and posted a 1:56.4 victory at Woodbine on May 9, and Delcrest Julian (Post 4), a Gold Elimination winner at two who finished second in a 1:56 mile at Woodbine on May 12. The top three finishers from each elimination, plus one fourth-place finisher selected by random draw, will return to Mohawk on May 30 for the first $130,000 Gold Final of their sophomore campaign.

Before Sim Brown draws in behind the gate on Sunday, Nichol will have already gained a clearer picture of his three-year-old contingent’s prospects. Pacing filly Monkey On My Wheel starts her Ontario Sires Stakes season in a Gold Elimination at London’s Western Fair Raceway on Friday, and pacing colt Mystician will battle his old nemesis Prodigal Seelster in an elimination of the Upper Canada Cup at Georgian Downs on Saturday.

“Hopefully everything keeps going the way they’re going,” says Nichol. “So far, so good.”

In addition to his sophomore contenders, Nichol owns shares in 11 two-year-olds, a mix of Ontario and American-bred youngsters. While the freshmen have yet to make their appearance on a racetrack, the longtime owner says all 11 are still pointed in that direction.

“So far so good with them too, we haven’t stopped with any of them yet, so that’s a good sign,” says the pragmatic Nichol. “It’s a little early to say exactly which ones are going to stand out, but there’s a couple or three that look good so far.”

If any one of the 11 can approach the heights reached by Sim Brown and his stablemates last season, Nichol and his partners will be in for another fun-filled provincial campaign.

Sim Brown and his sophomore trotting colt peers will battle in Races 2, 4, and 7 on Mohawk Racetrack’s Sunday, May 22 program, which gets under way at 6:30 pm to accommodate the fireworks which will follow the last race. Families taking in the Victoria Day weekend celebration of racing and fireworks will also be treated to free pony rides, petting zoo, face painting and more, with all the trackside activities beginning at 5 pm.

For complete entries please go to: Mohawk Racetrack Entries – May 22, 2011