CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — Saturday night’s Super Finals at Mohawk Racetrack come with no shortage of wonderful stories, but none are so poignant as the one surrounding three-year-old pacing colt Casimir Camotion.
Veteran trainer Stew Firlotte acquired Casimir Camotion for just $8,000 as a yearling and opted not to race him as a two-year-old. After a winter of impressive training miles the Toronto resident was looking forward to qualifying the Camluck son when he suffered a stroke on June 21.
While Firlotte recovered in hospital his staff picked up the gelding’s conditioning and Casimir Camotion finally made his racing debut on July 24. Since then the pacer has posted a record of six wins, one second and one third in nine starts, including a victory in the Oct. 20 Gold Final at Mohawk, and become a symbol of hope for the Firlotte family.
“He’s been a delight. I haven’t been able to enjoy him as much as I would like to because of health problems, but he might be what I need to pick me up,” says Firlotte, whose son Brad owns the pacer. “He not only might be, I think he is what I need to pick me up.”
With just two starts in the Gold Series, Casimir Camotion squeaked into the Super Final when two colts above him in the point standings failed to enter. In spite of his comparative inexperience, the winner of $103,269 and driver Doug Brown will be among the favourites from Post 6 in the ninth race. And if the gelding can capture the lucrative season finale it will come as no surprise to Firlotte, who has been impressed with Casimir Camotion since he held off Articulator, a winner of $160,516 at two, in a training mile last winter.
“I found out last winter when he was training back that he was one of these horses that just doesn’t give up,” recalls the 63-year-old. “One morning Brad had Articulator and I had him and they were head-to-head and Articulator couldn’t get by him. There’s a 1:51 horse and he couldn’t get by. When I left the track that day I had a feeling he was a pretty good horse. That was our first idea that he was the real thing.”
Casimir Camotion vindicated Firlotte’s faith with a 1:56.1 win at Kawartha Downs in his second lifetime start and with each successive victory he has come to mean more to the well-respected horseman and his family.
“He means a lot to me because I had told my son (Brad), since we were into him not so heavy — some Camluck’s I’ve paid $40,000 for — if we made any money we’d put it into a college fund for his brand new daughter,” says the proud grandfather of now one-year-old Lena Elite.
If Casimir Camotion can capture Saturday’s Super Final the youngest member of the Firlotte family can have her pick of the top schools in North America, and Firlotte proves the stroke did not affect his sense of humour when he quips that the Ivy League may not be in her future.
“He’ll pay for Lena’s college education,” says the horseman. “But I don’t know if there’s ever been a Firlotte smart enough for Harvard.”
One race before Brown and Casimir Camotion try to pad the college account the three-year-old pacing fillies face off in what promises to be a showdown of epic proportions.
The talent laden division features Nov. 1 Gold Final winner, and Ontario Sires Stakes record holder, Jasper Avenue from Post 1, $1.2 million winner Remember When from Post 5 and her equally talented stablemate Please Me Please from Post 6 and division leader and OSS record holder Burning Point from Post 7.
“She’s the best pacing filly I’ve ever had,” says Jasper Avenue’s owner-breeder Bill Loyens. “But both of those of (Bob) McIntosh’s are beautiful fillies, and what about Burning Point, my God.”
The Nov. 1 victory was Jasper Avenue’s second Gold Final title and trainer Bill Robinson feels the Village Jasper daughter is in peak condition heading into Saturday’s season finale.
“In fairness to her she hadn’t been real sound and we finally got time to do some work on her and it showed, she was great last week,” says Robinson, who leads the Ontario Sires Stakes trainer standings by 51 points. “She’s just a nice, good, fast mare.”
Through 13 starts this season Jasper Avenue boasts a record of five wins, three seconds and two thirds for earnings of $322,187, impressive statistics for a filly that spent almost a month as a guest of the University of Guelph Equine Clinic after suffering an irregular heartbeat during a May 15 race.
“She had one of those heart fibrillations, and they shocked her heart,” says Loyens. “Dr. Kenny and the others at Guelph did a wonderful job with her. He said she was fine, and she’s proved it.”
The three-year-old filly battle is featured in Race 8 on Mohawk Racetrack’s 7:40 pm program Saturday, with the sophomore pacing colts going postward in Race 9. The other six Super Finals are Races 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7.