TORONTO, ON — Observant patrons at Newmarket’s The Buttery Restaurant will notice a change in routine on Saturday evening as chef Carlo Rovella takes the night off to head for Woodbine Racetrack and the $2.4 million Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals.
“I wrote a big note to everybody — no matter what, I won’t be here,” says Rovella with a chuckle. “I’ll be there during the day, but I’ll be leaving at five no matter what happens.”
Rovella’s absence from the popular Newmarket dining spot is the result of his two-year-old pacing colt OK Fantastic’s entry in the year end championship. After missing the middle of the season due to sickness, the gelding has finally started to regain his form and heads into the season finale off an easy win in an Oct. 29 overnight at Woodbine and a pair of runner-up finishes in the last Gold Elimination and Final of the season.
“It’s looking promising, we’re going to keep our fingers crossed,” says Rovella, who shares ownership of OK Fantastic with Mardon Stables of Loretto. “We were happy the way he went (Oct. 29). He ran well and responded coming for home; we were very happy with the way he raced.”
Alliston resident Bruce MacDonald conditions OK Fantastic, who has tallied one win, four seconds, two thirds and earnings of $98,900 in his first 10 starts. The son of Mach Three and Fanciful will be looking for a second victory from Post 5 in Saturday’s talent laden field, with Oakville resident Rick Zeron at the controls.
“Everything has worked out so far, all we need is some racing luck on Saturday and we’ll see what happens,” says Toronto resident Rovella. “It’s not going to be easy. There’s a lot of good horses in there, so whoever wins it will have to earn it.”
Division leader Windsong Jack will start from Post 9, and is one of three horses trainer Dave Menary will send out in the ninth race. Stable mates Slight Touch and Tarpon Hanover will start from Posts 2 and 3, respectively.
Of the five Gold Final trophies up for grabs this summer, Menary trainees nabbed three; Tarpon Hanover won the season opener at Mohawk Racetrack on July 6 and Windsong Jack picked up a pair, winning at Flamboro Downs on Sept. 15 and Georgian Downs on Oct. 13. The Cheltenham resident has already scored in Ontario Sires Stakes post season action in 2012, taking the two-year-old pacing colt Grassroots Championship with Panpero Firpo.
“I think we have seven two-year-olds that have made over $80,000 or something like that. And some of them have been a little bit better. They’ve all had kind of good luck and they’ve all had bad luck,” notes Menary, who will also send out Adventurepan in the two-year-old pacing filly Super Final. “It’s a long year for two-year-olds, they go so fast now that it’s pretty hard to be right on your toes from the first day of baby races (in June) to the Super Final in November, but I’m very, very happy with all the two-year-olds this year.”
The trainers of the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings have had an even longer season with their charges, most of them getting under way in April or May. The colts will wrap up the 2012 Super Final program, and their Ontario Sires Stakes careers, in Race 10 and fans can expect a showdown between last year’s Super Final champion Warrawee Needy, the most recent Gold Final winner Mel Mara, and division leader Michaels Power as they stack up beside each other at Posts 1, 2 and 3.
Warrawee Needy heads into the final test of his sophomore season off an effortless 1:50.2 win against older horses over the Woodbine oval on Nov. 3, and trainer Carl Jamieson says the son of E Dees Cam is firing on all cylinders after sickness, allergies and bad luck hampered him through the first three months of the season. Since scoring his first sophomore win on Sept. 1 the colt has posted three more victories, including an Ontario Sires Stakes record 1:48.4 in the Sept. 22 Gold Final at Mohawk.
“He’s been over them (issues) for a month or so I guess, he’s coming back right,” says Jamieson. “You talk about something going wrong, everything went wrong all year.”
Rockwood resident Jamieson shares ownership of Warrawee Needy with Thomas Kyron of Toronto, breeder Dr. Michael Wilson of Rockwood and Floyd Marshall of Jarvis. The trainer’s son, Moffat resident Jody Jamieson, will steer the colt in the $300,000 season finale.
Both Mel Mara and Michaels Power are coming into Saturday’s test from disappointing outings in the Oct. 27 Breeders Crown Final at Woodbine. Mel Mara finished seventh after starting from the outside Post 10 and Little Brown Jug champion Michaels Power was tenth in the 10-horse field.
“That’s the only start that I’ve been disappointed with him pretty much all year, was both his elimination for the Crown and then his final for the Crown,” says trainer Casie Coleman of Michaels Power. “But I think we’re back on the ball and got the right areas taken care of I believe. He was just a bit off, and a bit sick, a bit of everything, but I’m pretty sure we’ve got him back going in the right direction, I hope.”
Cambridge resident Coleman conditions Michaels Power for owner-breeder Jeffrey Snyder of New York, NY and Oakville reinsman Scott Zeron will steer the winner of $1.3 million in his final Ontario Sires Stakes start. The Camluck son has only been bested once in six Gold Series starts this season, finishing second to Mel Mara in the last Gold Final.
Illinois-based horseman Tony Alagna conditions Mel Mara for Brittany Farms of Versailles, KY, breeder John Carver of Bettendorf, IA and Riverview Farms of North Bergen, NJ and says the Lis Mara son has been training well since the Breeders Crown.
“He came out of the race very good,” says Alagna. “He was outstanding in his elimination, just had the misfortune of drawing the ten-hole in the Final and never got involved in the race.
“This time of year, like a lot of the horses, he doesn’t require a lot of work,” adds the trainer. “We train him a couple easy trips in between starts, that’s all he really requires to keep him in race shape and he seems to respond to that very well.”
Ron Pierce, who piloted the colt in the Breeders Crown, will return to the race bike Saturday.
Racing action gets under way at 7:30 pm on Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack and the eight Super Finals will be featured in Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 10.
For complete entries please go to Woodbine Racetrack Entries — November 10, 2012