TORONTO, ON — On Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack four of Ontario’s finest young racehorses will have an opportunity to achieve something that has only occurred six times since the Super Finals were introduced in 2000.
Apogee Hanover, Miss Paris, Prestidigitator and Warrawee Needy were all Super Final champions as two-year-olds and all four return to the $2.4 million Ontario Sires Stakes showcase ranked first or second in their respective sophomore divisions.
Trotting colt Text Me was the last horse to deliver back-to-back Super Final wins, capturing the titles in 2009 and 2010, and trainer Bob McIntosh says there was no magic formula for the Kadabra son’s success.
“What it comes down to I guess, if you lay a good foundation in the winter time hopefully then they last into the fall,” says the Windsor resident, who has been inducted into the Hall of Fame on both sides of the border. “Bill Wellwood was probably the best at it. His horses always raced good into the late fall, and he was a great conditioner, a great trainer, and laid a great foundation in his horses.
“There’s no short cuts; I’m a big believer in that foundation,” McIntosh adds.
Other than Text Me, the horses who have earned two Super Final trophies have all been fillies. Trotting star Peaceful Way was the first to score a repeat, claiming her trophies in 2003 and 2004. Pacing filly Lady Dillinger and trotting filly Fan Favourite matched her accomplishment in 2004 and 2005, and trotting filly Pure Ivory followed on their heels in 2005 and 2006. Elusive Desire was the last distaffer to accomplish the feat, trotting to victory in 2008 and 2009.
The first horse taking a run at a second title on Saturday is trotting colt Prestidigitator, who makes his bid from Post 8 in the fifth race. The son of Kadabra has only been bested once in five Gold Series starts this summer, and has also delivered several creditable performances in open stakes action. He heads into the $300,000 Super Final off a fourth-place finish in the Oct. 27 Breeders Crown Final.
Campbellville resident Dustin Jones conditions Prestidigitator for Ecurie Synergie of Montreal, Que and the veteran trainer is in complete agreement with McIntosh’s simple recipe for success.
“I think it’s just that we gave him four and a half months, almost five months training, I think that’s paying off right now,” says Jones. “Some people get them ready in three and a half months, but I think the extra month or so is paying off now. That’s usually what it does. It pays off later in the year. I can’t remember how many starts he’s got, but he’s raced tough every start almost.”
Prestidigitator has rolled in behind the starting gate 16 times since June, posting five wins, two seconds, four thirds and earnings of $399,481. Milton resident Sylvain Filion has piloted the trotter in most of his 27 lifetime starts and will back in the race bike on Saturday.
Pacing filly Apogee Hanover, trotting filly Miss Paris and pacing colt Warrawee Needy all head into their Ontario Stakes swan songs off less satisfactory experiences in the Breeders Crown. Apogee Hanover finished eighth and Miss Paris seventh in their respective finals while Warrawee Needy just missed qualifying for the final after finishing sixth in his elimination, two lengths behind the winner.
Prior to the Breeders Crown Final Apogee Hanover had strung together an impressive run of seven top three finishes, including her only Gold Final win this season at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 20, and trainer Ervin Miller is hoping she returns to that form from Post 8 in Saturday’s seventh race. New Jersey-based Miller has sent the Jeremes Jet daughter out 21 times this season and the filly has tallied three wins, four seconds, four thirds and $196,081 in earnings for owner Roger Hammer of Bedford, PA. Regular reinsman Doug McNair of Guelph will be in the race bike for the $300,000 test.
Both trotting filly Miss Paris and pacing colt Warrawee Needy will benefit from the inside Post 1 in their respective Super Finals, and trainers Richard “Nifty” Norman and Carl Jamieson are hoping to finish up their season on a high note.
Through 15 sophomore starts the consistent Miss Paris has posted five wins, four seconds, three thirds and $383,267 in earnings. Norman conditions the Kadabra daughter for owners Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL and David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL, and Oakville resident Rick Zeron will steer the Kadabra miss in the eighth race.
Jamieson, who shares ownership of Warrawee Needy with Thomas Kyron of Toronto, Dr. Michael Wilson of Rockwood and Floyd Marshall of Jarvis, speculates that the nature and length of their two-year-old seasons could also be a factor in the ongoing success of last year’s Super Final champions.
“I think that Needy had a pretty light year last year. I mean he had 12 races, but he kind of laid over the field quite a bit, and he win them races very easily,” explains the Rockwood resident. “Other ones were likely working hard for what they did, so maybe it takes a little bit out of them for coming back at three.”
Although his early season was plagued by sickness and allergies, Warrawee Needy has hit his stride in recent weeks and heads into Saturday�s test with four wins in his last six starts. Moffat resident Jody Jamieson will be in his regular spot in the E Dees Cam son’s race bike, looking to improve the pacer’s sophomore record of four wins, four seconds, two thirds and $219,425 in 15 starts.
Hall of Famer McIntosh agrees with Jamieson’s assessment of the two-year-old campaign, noting that a freshman who heads into the off season in good form is usually able to marshal their resources for a strong sophomore campaign.
“I think if you put them away before they’re tired they always seem to come back better; if you don’t squeeze the lemon too dry as a two-year-old,” he says. “But there’s not really any magic equation I don’t think.”
Prestidigitator, Apogee Hanover, Miss Paris, and Warrawee Needy will be looking to recapture their two-year-old magic in the fifth, seventh, eighth and tenth races on Saturday. Woodbine Racetrack’s first race rolls in behind the gate at 7:30 pm and the eight Super Finals are featured in Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 10.
For complete entries please go to Woodbine Racetrack Entries — November 10, 2012