CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — After struggling through the early rounds of Ontario Sires Stakes action, two-year-old trotting colt Winning Mister has clearly found his stride, posting his second straight victory with an impressive effort in Thursday’s $120,000 Gold Final at Mohawk Racetrack.

After being soaked by rain on and off all day, the Campbellville oval was better suited to mud wrestling than horse racing, so driver Sylvain Filion eased Winning Mister away from Post 7. The pair landed in fifth spot on the rail, with Play Right showing the way to a :29.3 opening quarter. Heading into the backstretch, fan favourite Hibbler took command of the pace and led the field to a 1:00 half.

Heading for the 1:31.2 three-quarters, elimination winner Aloft started up the outside, and Filion tipped Winning Mister out behind him. When Aloft went off stride, Filion found himself within striking distance of the leaders. An impressive :28.2 final quarter, over a track rated three seconds slower than normal, saw Winning Mister reel in a fatigued Hibbler and claim his first ever Gold Final title and second straight victory with a 2:00.2 clocking.

Hibbler finished a length and a half back in second, with Play Right two more lengths to the rear in third.

Keith Klages currently handles training duties on Winning Mister, who is owned by breeder Robert Key of Leechburg, PA. The victory boosted the Angus Hall son’s freshman record to three wins, one second, one third and earnings of $106,400 through 11 starts.

The striking black colt captured his second lifetime start — a July 5 division of the W. N Reynolds Memorial at Pocono Downs — then had to wait almost three months to find his way back to the winner’s circle in last week’s elimination. Under the tutelage of Richard Gillock, Winning Mister made his debut in the Gold Series at Kawartha Downs on July 15, where he made a late break but still managed to hang on to second. A second break in the Gold Final sent the colt home to Pennsylvania where Gillock re-qualified him at The Meadows.

Winning Mister returned to Gold Series action in an Aug. 18 elimination at Mohawk Racetrack and failed to advance to the final, finishing seventh, then delivered a third-place effort in the Gold Consolation. Another break marred the colt’s Champlain Stake performance, but he bounced back with a steady effort in the William Wellwood Memorial eliminations and then finished fifth in the $50,000 consolation.

In last week’s elimination Winning Mister was the fans’ fourth choice, but the colt delivered a commanding performance for driver Randy Waples, reaching the wire four lengths ahead of his peers in a personal best 1:56.1. With Waples committed to a trip to Ottawa with three-year-old pacing colt Keystone Horatio on Thursday, Filion picked up the catch drive and gave the colt a flawless steer to earn his first Gold Final title.

In a division that has seen four different Gold Final winners, Winning Mister will attempt to change that statistic on Nov. 1 and 8, when the novice trotting colts wrap up their regular season at Woodbine Racetrack.

In the Gold Consolation earlier on Thursday’s card, division point leader Mopey Corey picked up his third lifetime victory off a front end performance in rein to owner Anthony MacDonald of Guelph. Full Volume and Mapleson rounded out the top three in the $20,000 consolation.

MacDonald’s younger brother James handles training duties on Mopey Corey, who has accumulated 193 points without winning a Gold Final. The consistent Southwind Lustre son boosted his record to three wins, three seconds, one third and earnings of $146,800 through nine starts with Thursday’s effort.

Mohawk Racetrack’s 2008 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule wraps up on Monday, Oct. 6 with Gold Final and Gold Consolation action for the two-year-old pacing fillies.

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