GLOUCESTER, ON — On Sunday evening at Rideau Carleton Raceway, two-year-old pacing filly St Lads Popcorn proved that while she may be lucky, she is also good.

The Twin B Champ daughter captured the season opening Gold Final in Ontario Sires Stakes record time after drawing in off the also eligible list, but Sunday’s performance proved that her July 18 victory was not just a stroke of good fortune.

Starting from the difficult Post 8 at Rideau Carleton, St Lads Popcorn and driver Jason Brewer floated off the gate and were sitting fifth on the outside when Northern Duchess reached the opening quarter in :28.1. Wanting to avoid the kind of parked out trip that failed to guarantee them a spot in the July 18 Final, Brewer opted to send St Lads Popcorn to the front, and the filly cruised by the early leaders to a :57 half.

In front by one length at the 1:27 three-quarters, St Lads Popcorn was able to hold off the challengers through the stretch and claim a 1:56.4 victory for owner and trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge. Early leader Northern Duchess earned the runner-up’s share of the $40,000 Gold Elimination purse, and Bale Me Out rounded out the top three.

Only one filly will not return to Ottawa for next week’s Gold Final, and while Windsong Filou was set back from seventh to tenth when she interfered with Buzzies Best and Putnam Jordan at the halfway marker, the filly benefited from her own stroke of luck when trainer Gilbert Hamel opted not to enter Buzzies Best into next week’s event. As a result, Windsong Filou, who already owns a Gold Elimination trophy and cashed a runner-up cheque after the first Gold Final, will return to Rideau Carleton next Sunday, Aug. 3 for her second run at a provincial title.

Darling trained both Twin B Champ ($437,235) and the filly’s dam, the unraced Hot Butter, and purchased St Lads Popcorn for a measly $5,000 at last fall’s Forest City Yearling Sale. With a fourth in her first Gold Elimination, the July 18 Gold Final triumph, and Sunday’s elimination victory, the filly has already earned $83,200, and Darling has earned the right to say “I told you so” to all the owners and trainers who failed to heed his suggestion to check out St Lads Popcorn before she walked into the sales ring last October.

St Lads Popcorn will attempt to make it three in a row from the advantageous Post 1 in next week’s $140,000 Gold Final, with the remainder of the field lining up behind the starting gate as follows:

Post 1 — St Lads Popcorn

Post 2 — Bale Me Out

Post 3 — Icey Breeze

Post 4 — Northern Duchess

Post 5 — Take My Pulse

Post 6 — Windsong Filou

Post 7 — Rose Seelster

Post 8 — Star Gazed

Post 9 — Putnam Jordan

For complete results please go to: