Driver James MacDonald played a starring role in the $1.8 million Super Finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday, Oct. 16, capturing three of the eight season-ending showdowns.
“It was just terrific in every way shape and form,” said MacDonald. “I had gone in with high hopes, I mean I had such a good line up, I knew I had the horse power as long as they were healthy and had good weeks and the races panned out.”
The Guelph resident kicked off his evening with back-to-back wins aboard two-year-old pacing filly Prohibition Legal and two-year-old trotting filly Adare Castle, and put the icing on his first Lampman Cup-winning season five races later with two-year-old trotting gelding Twin B Archie.
Starting from Post 7 in the first $225,000 Super Final, favourites MacDonald and Prohibition Legal took command before the half and cruised home one and one-quarter length winners in 1:52.1. Stablemate Silver Label finished second and Balance was three more lengths back in third.
“She was just the same as she was all year; she was just deadly in every way. I don’t love racing her on the front, it’s not her preferred trip, but if I got beat I wanted it to be because she wasn’t the best that night,” said MacDonald. “I was going to race her like she should win and obviously, great horses, that’s what they do, they get the job done when you put them in the right spot.”
Nick Gallucci trains Prohibition Legal for owner/breeder Millar Farms of Stouffville, ON. The Big Jim daughter was undefeated through the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) season, winning all five Gold Series Legs in addition to Saturday’s Super Final, and also captured her Eternal Camnation division and Shes A Great Lady elimination for freshman earnings of $564,204.
One race later MacDonald tucked division point leader Adare Castle behind rival Mischevious Rose as that filly powered up the outer lane, and then tipped the fan favourite out at the top of the stretch. With a clear path to the wire, Adare Castle shifted into high gear and drew away to a commanding six length victory in 1:56.3. Mischevious Rose settled for second and Needa Little Magic closed for third.
“I didn’t want to get her in a spot where I over drove her or had her too far out of it, so I kind of coasted forward, and then I could see the way the race was shaking up I was probably going to get Bob (McClure) and be second over. She knows what to do from there, she’s just a champion, she sees a helmet and then when you move her off it, she just knows, ‘Go’,” said MacDonald. “To me, she never feels like she’s changing gears, she just does it so effortlessly. It’s just a fun ride with her, and it’s been a fun ride all year.”
A four-time winner through the regular season, Adare Castle earned $486,037 for owner/trainer Mark Etsell of Rockwood, Robert Newton of Walkerton, Graham Hopkins of Chesley and Peter Porter of Port Dover, ON. In addition to her Gold Series success, the Muscle Mass daughter was also victorious in her Champlain Stakes division and Peaceful Way elimination.
MacDonald scored his third victory in the sixth Super Final, guiding two-year-old trotting gelding Twin B Archie to a two and one-half length 1:55.3 score off a stalking trip behind pacesetting favourite Duly Resolved. Kipper Whipr Snipr finished third.
“That was ‘Trip A’ if I could work it out, but it’s so hard because there’s so many good horses in the race,” said MacDonald, who guided the Archangel son to the win for owner/trainer Scott McEneny of Puslinch, Domenic Chiaravalle of Hamilton, Floyd Marshall of Jarvis and Martwest Racing Stable of Mississauga, ON. “When I landed on his (Paul MacDonell’s) back the horse felt good, and when I edged him out, he’d been getting stronger and stronger all year, I didn’t know if I had enough to get by Mac, but he delivered the KO punch. He was just kind of a big dummy early in the year and he’s blossomed into a real professional racehorse. It’s good to see when it happens that way; Scott’s done a great job with him.”
MacDonald had clinched his first Lampman Cup title as the OSS program’s leading driver before last week’s Grassroots Championships, but his Super Final success boosted his provincial earnings to $2,229,068. The reinsman also leads all drivers in Canada in both earnings and wins.
“It’s been a dream year, and I finished it off better than I could ever have imagined,” said MacDonald of his OSS season. “I’m just really happy it ended this way and hopefully, I get to go down to the Breeders Crown next week, so hopefully I can have some luck there and put a cap on a year I will never forget.”
Kathy and John Cecchin and Nicole and Paul Davies’ Desperate Man put a cap on a year the Arthur, ON residents will never forget with his 1:49.3 victory in the three-year-old pacing colt Super Final. Regular reinsman Trevor Henry piloted the Pepsi North America Cup champion to the one and one-quarter length victory over favourite Bulldog Hanover and Powertrain. All three colts are by sire Shadow Play.
“It’s a cliché, but obviously it’s felt like a dream. We still can’t believe this is happening to us and that we have him. It seems like some sort of altered reality or something,” said trainer Kathy Cecchin with a laugh. “When he’s come through, when there’s been so many people there, it’s been incredible. It’s been unbelievable and incredible and we are thankful. And those horses that we have raced against for two years now, we think the world of them too. They’re great competitors and we have the utmost respect for them.”
Woodbine Mohawk Park announcer Ken Middleton had a Super Final night he will not soon forget, as his homebred two-year-old pacing colt Bob Loblaw stormed down the stretch to a neck victory over Magical Arthur and favourite Stonebridge Helios. Sylvain Filion guided the son of Sunshine Beach to the 1:53 score.
“I was a little surprised Sylvain stuck with my colt after having so much recent success with Magical Arthur. That and the fact that my guy was underachieving,” said Cambridge resident Middleton, who shares ownership of the gelding with David Walls and James Grant of Sarnia and Starting Centre Stables of Cambridge, ON. “It was a big relief when I saw that he was sticking with us, and it really motivated me to work as hard as I could on my colt for the last two weeks. I guess it paid off.”
Three-year-old pacing filly Scarlett Hanover and three-year-old trotting gelding Fashion Frenzie retained the Super Final crowns they earned at two, delivering commanding performances in the third and fourth of the provincial showdowns.
Yannick Gingras guided favourite Scarlett Hanover to a five length triumph in a personal best 1:50.4 for trainer Ashleigh Hensley and owners Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, PA, Frank Baldachino of Harvey Cedars, NJ, J And T Silva-Purnel & Libby of Ocean Ridge, FL and Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Canonsburg, PA. Bet On Becky and Voelz Delight finished second and third, giving sire Bettors Delight the division sweep.
Fashion Frenzie and driver Louis-Philippe Roy took a first-over tour of the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval to score their 1:53.4 victory. Logan Park was two lengths behind the favourite in second and Lexus Kody made it an Archangel son sweep. Richard Moreau trains Fashion Frenzie for Ecurie Francis Richard Inc., Pierre Guillemette and Sylvain Richard of Becancour and Mario Bourgea of Stanbridge East, QC.
The three-year-old trotting fillies wrapped up the 22nd Super Final night and it was Up And Ready and Doug McNair who emerged victorious, with a 1:55.1 effort. Hawaii and You Will Be Queen finished five and one-half lengths back in second and third, while pacesetting favourite HP Mama B settled for fourth.
“She raced really good the last time, and she’s been good the last few starts and I thought, they’re kind of ignoring her on the odds board, and if the guys ignore her in the race, and Dougie gets the trip, I thought she had a pretty good shot,” said trainer John Bax of Campbellville, who trains the Kadabra filly for Al Libfeld of Pickering, Marvin and Lynn Katz and Sam Goldband of Toronto, ON. “I was feeling pretty good about the way she came into the race.”
Many of the youngsters will now enjoy a well-earned vacation, while others prepare for the remaining stakes engagements on their calendar, including the Breeders Crown at The Meadowlands next weekend, and the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association Stakes for the sophomore fillies in mid-November.
Feature Image: Driver James MacDonald of Guelph scored three Super Final wins at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday, Oct. 16, the second coming with Adare Castle in the $225,000 two-year-old trotting filly contest for owner/trainer Mark Etsell of Rockwood, Robert Newton of Walkerton, Graham Hopkins of Chesley and Peter Porter of Port Dover, ON. (New Image Media photo)