Ontario’s three-year-old trotting and pacing colts served up five impressive performances on the $425,000 Confederation Cup program at Flamboro Downs on Sunday, May 20.
Super Final champion Western Passage picked up where he left off at the end of last season with a gritty 1:53.4 victory in the second $66,400 Gold Series division. Parked outside pacesetter Levis Day from just before the :58.1 half right through to the finish, Western Passage got a nose in front to claim the third Ontario Sires Stakes victory of his career. Levis Day settled for second and Shadow Moon was two lengths back in third.
“That was a big back-half first-over,” said trainer Casie Coleman from the winner’s circle. “I was really happy with him tonight.”
Cambridge resident Coleman shares ownership of the Sportswriter gelding with her partners in the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, John and McKinlay Fielding of Toronto and Calhoun Racing Ltd. of Chatham, Ontario. The win bumped the fan favourite’s lifetime earnings to $244,680.
Driver Doug McNair’s appearance in the winner’s circle with Western Passage was his fourth of the evening and his second straight in Gold Series action. The Guelph, Ontario resident captured the first Gold division with Backstreet Shadow for his father, trainer Gregg McNair, and owners Lindsey and Connie Rankin of Lexington, Kentucky.
Starting from Post 2, McNair sent Backstreet Shadow to the front and the Shadow Play gelding cruised home a one length winner in 1:52.3. Favourite St Lads Neptune was second and Wind Blast was third. Sunday’s win was the second of the 2018 campaign for Backstreet Shadow, who was unplaced in two Gold Series starts as a two-year-old.
“Backstreet was a fast horse last year, just a little immature,” McNair noted. “He’s really matured and seems like he’s on the right track to being a real nice horse.”
The fastest of the three Gold divisions, and the fastest mile of the evening, was clocked by Jimmy Freight and driver Louis Philippe Roy in Race 11. The fan favourites hit the wire six and one-quarter lengths ahead of Chocolate Swirl and Burning Midnight in 1:51.3. It was the second win of the sophomore campaign for Sportswriter son Jimmy Freight, who was a two-time Gold winner at two and the runner-up to Western Passage in the Super Final.
“I don’t know what his limit is,” said Roy from the winner’s circle. “So far I don’t see — how he raced tonight — I don’t see much that can beat him.”
Roy engineered the win for trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch and owner Adriano Sorella of Milton, Ontario.
Trainer John Bax and driver Steve Byron opened the Confederation Cup program with a sweep of the $18,800 three-year-old trotting colt Grassroots divisions.
The pair graced the winner’s circle for the first time with Delcrest Holiday in Race 1. Starting from Post 2, Delcrest Holiday went gate-to-wire in 2:00.3, fending off Nobodynosjustice and Leaderofthepack to secure the one-half length victory.
The win was the first of the season for Delcrest Holiday and marked a new personal best for the gelding, who was also victorious in the first Grassroots event of the season as a two-year-old. The son of Holiday Road is owned by Bax Stable of Campbellville, Gaelic Stable of Sharon, Ken Bax of Cavan Monaghan and John Houston of Cobourg, Ontario.
Byron employed the same tactics in the second Grassroots division, sending favourite Sicario directly to the front from Post 5 and reaching the 1:58.2 finish without facing a challenge. Sicario sailed home one and three-quarter lengths ahead of Bigboy Roscoe and Northern Ruler.
Sunday’s outing was Sicario’s first appearance in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, but not his first in the winner’s circle. The son of Holiday Road is now a four-time winner in 10 sophomore starts for Bax Stable and breeder Dave Hudson of Dallas, Texas.
“We are pleasantly surprised and grateful,” said Bax. “That was a good start to the year, hopefully it will carry on.
“It’s Matt’s birthday today, so it was a nice birthday present,” added the horseman, who shares training duties and ownership in the Bax Stable with his son Matt.
The evening’s finale, the $182,500 Confederation Cup was captured by Filibuster Hanover and driver Yannick Gingras in 1:51.4. Ron Burke trains the son of the late Ontario Sired superstar Somebeachsomewhere for Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, PA, Joseph Di Scala Jr. of Katonah, NY, J And T Silva Stables LLC of Long Beach, NY and Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Canonsburg, PA.
For complete results from Sunday’s Confederation Cup program visit Flamboro Downs Results — Sunday, May 20, 2018