CAMPBELLVILLE — Success was spelled T-R-E-V-O-R R-I-T-C-H-I-E at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday evening as all three Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Eliminations went to fillies driven by the Acton resident.
Ritchie’s golden evening started in the first race when he hopped aboard longshot Noccan Enter and sent her straight to the front from Post 5. With little on Noccan Enter’s resume to indicate a major threat the remainder of the field toiled happily in her wake, expecting to catch up later in the mile, but the Bennett Express daughter never gave them an opportunity, roaring to the half in :57.1 and trotting steadily home to a 2:00 victory.
“I guess her problem is that she doesn’t like stones hitting her in the face,” said Ritchie, who drove the filly for breeder, owner and trainer Blake Bennett of Belmont. “He (Bennett) had a screen on her and he asked me, if I could, to get to the front and stay there with her because as soon as horses are passing her and the stones start hitting her in the face she sometimes makes breaks.”
The strategy worked like a charm, landing the filly her second lifetime win and her first Ontario Sires Stakes trophy. North To Alaska finished two lengths back in second for trainer Kevin Davidson and Catherine Stewart of Campbellville, while 2002 OSS stalwart Mikestory and William Megens of Troy were seven lengths to the rear in third. Favourite Clarice Marie and Tom Durand of Puslinch landed in fourth spot and will be hoping their name is drawn from among the fourth-place finishers to return to Mohawk on Sunday evening for the $130,000 Gold Final.
Ritchie was back in the winner’s circle after the next Gold Elimination with heavy favourite For The Luva Moni, who romped to a 13 and a half length win over Snazzy Millie and Excusez Moi, stopping the teletimer at 1:59.4.
Leaving the gate from Post 1 Ritchie settled the Balanced Image filly into fifth spot and steadily made his way forward until the three-quarter pole where For The Luva Moni exploded to the front, leaving her peers gasping for breath in her wake.
“She was a really good filly last year and so far it looks like she is continuing where she left off,” said Ritchie, whose only prior experience driving For The Luva Moni was a schooling event last week. “She felt that any time I moved her she was going to go forward. Half way around the last turn, the horse I was following started to ease up a little bit so I moved her and she went around really quickly.”
Trainer John Hayes of Beamsville shares ownership on the winner of $142,538 with Ned Gvoich of Beamsville and Kim Kaplan of Worcester, MA.
Ritchie wrapped up his OSS hat track with a victory aboard Wescott in the last Gold Elimination, taking control just past the quarter mile marker and cruising home to a three and a half length victory for trainer David Jannone and owners Wescott LLC of Neenah, WI.
“She seems to have come back pretty good so far. She is getting sharper every week and we are really happy the way she raced this evening,” said Jannone, who conditioned the Wesgate Crown daughter to a $126,362 season as a two-year-old. “Her biggest problem last year was tying up a little bit. We are looking forward to her growing up and being a more mature horse this year.”
Memories Of Texas stalked Wescott throughout the 2:01 mile, but could get no closer than second while favourite Nomireatras took home the third-place finisher’s share of the $37,407 purse.
Amblar Playgirl finished fourth and will have her name tossed into the hat with Clarice Marie and Jar Jar Binx, the fourth-place finisher from the second elimination, to determine the final starter in Sunday’s Gold Final.
The fillies will join the sophomore trotting colts as part of Mohawk Racetrack’s special Victoria Day weekend festivities on Sunday, with activities for the family getting under way at 5:30 pm and the call to the post for Race 1 coming at 6:30 pm.