Super Final Night 2020 delivered a spectacular finale to the Ontario Sires Stakes season at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday, Oct. 17, complete with a dead heat, photo finishes, thrilling stretch duels and impressive individual performances.
Pemberton claimed the three-year-old trotting colt title with a commanding three and three-quarter length victory in the seventh of the eight $250,000 Super Final battles. Driver Trevor Henry put the fan favourite on the front heading for the halfway marker and never looked back, cruising home to a 1:52.4 victory. Angel Nation closed hard to be second and Threefiftytwo was third.
“Trevor was very impressed with him, has been all along,” said trainer Paul Walker. “I mean we’ve always liked him, but you keep thinking, well one of these times these guys are going to beat him, but he raced him a different way tonight again and it didn’t make any difference.”
Walker trains Pemberton for his wife Brenda Walker of Owen Sound and their daughter Christine Walker of Tara, ON. Mother and daughter also bred the son of Wheeling N Dealing and Dayshifter, who wrapped up his sophomore campaign with eight wins, four of them in Gold Series action, and one third in 10 starts for earnings of $363,684. He was the only one of the eight division point leaders to claim a Super Final title.
The gelding was joined in the winner’s circle on Saturday by some of his youngest fans, two of the Walker’s grandchildren, Austin, 14, and Amelia, 10, who broke their superstitious habit of watching him race on the computer in the milk house of their dairy farm while sitting in very specific seats.
“They broke the mould. I said, ‘Oh my God, you guys are coming?’” said Walker with a chuckle. “That’s the first they’ve come to watch him go and they got their picture taken so they’re pretty happy.”
Driver Jody Jamieson, who leads all drivers in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) program in wins and money earned since the current record keeping system was implemented in 1997, added two more Super Final wins to his tally with three-year-old pacing filly Rose Run Victoria and two-year-old pacing colt Bulldog Hanover.
From Post 8 Rose Run Victoria sat on the outside throughout the mile, stalking fan favourite Lauras Love for the second half of the race as Karma Seelster and then Alicorn rang up fractions of :27, :55, and 1:23.1. Turning for home Rose Run Victoria was just one length behind the leaders and a big finishing kick propelled her to a three-quarter length win in 1:51.1. Lauras Love finished second and Karma Seelster was third.
“It worked out perfectly,” said Jamieson, who piloted the Hes Watching filly to her fourth win of the season for trainer Rod Boyd and owners Rick Phillips of Tappan, NY and Mark Harder of Freehold, NJ. “From the eight-hole it’s difficult sometimes when you have an off-the-pace horse to find the right helmet, but it worked out perfectly where we found a couple fast helmets that were taking us into the head of the lane.”
Two races later Jamieson lined up at Post 7 with Bulldog Hanover and the pair was sitting fifth when Lawless Shadow reached the :27.1 quarter. Jamieson soon opted to take a run at the leader however, and Bulldog Hanover had seized control by the :56 half. The fan favourites had opened up two lengths on the field by the 1:23.2 three-quarters, five by the top of the stretch and added four more before hitting the wire in a personal best 1:50.2. Lawless Shadow finished second and Magnum Moon was third. All three colts are sons of Shadow Play.
“I think he was probably the best performance on the night, other than Pemberton, Pemberton was pretty impressive too, but to go 1:50 and a piece the way he did it — he did all the work and was still strong through the wire — it was a fun race for sure,” said Moffat, ON resident Jamieson. “He was a monster.”
“That was exciting. It’s just so rewarding when you see them go a trip like that,” said owner/trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, ON. “It really surprised me that he could blow that group away. That’s a good solid group of two-year-olds and I’m shocked, really, that he did that.”
The win gave Bulldog Hanover one Grassroots win and three Gold Series wins in six career starts for earnings of $248,850.
Driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, ON also scored a pair of Super Final victories with two-year-old trotting colt Fashion Frenzie and three-year-old pacing gelding Rhythm In Motion.
After an equipment malfunction caused a high-speed post parade and sent him back to the paddock for a new set of trotting hopples and a securely fastened over-check, Fashion Frenzie returned to the racetrack in a mellower frame of mind. The Archangel son left well from Post 3, reaching the front heading by the :27.2 quarter and then settling in second behind Full Of Muscles for the trip to the :57.1 half and 1:27 three-quarters. Swinging off the final turn Filion sent Fashion Frenzie to the lead and the colt opened up a three length margin on heavy favourite Macho Martini, stopping the teletimer at 1:55.1. Full Of Muscles finished third.
“He was really impressive every time I saw him race, so when I got the opportunity to drive him I jumped on it,” said Filion, who was making his first appearance in the colt’s race bike on behalf of trainer Richard Moreau and owners Ecurie Francis Richard Inc. of Becancour, Ferme Auclair of St. Antione De Tilly, Pierre Guillemette of Becancour and Mario Bourgea of Stanbridge East, QC. “He kind of swelled up around the last turn and as soon as I tipped him I knew he was going to win.”
The win was Fashion Frenzie’s second in Gold Series action and his fifth on the season, boosting his career earnings to $204,775.
Heading into Saturday’s Super Final test Rhythm In Motion had never won an OSS race. The gelding boasted a second and a trio of thirds in Gold competition this season, but had been unable to notch a win. Off a pocket trip behind fan favourite Tattoo Artist in the biggest race of the season, Rhythm In Motion finally achieved victory, sprinting down the stretch to a one and one-quarter length triumph in 1:50.1. Beaumond Hanover and Indictable Hanover closed hard for second and third.
“He deserves this, he tried week after week, and racing against Tattoo Artist is not easy he’s such a great horse. We might have caught him on a night that he was a little off and we were able to go by him,” said Filion. “He leaves the gate so good, he can place himself so good in the race and then you’ve got to wait and see what you’ve got left at the top of the stretch and tonight he was full of himself.”
Filion steers the son of Big Jim and Racey Gal Hanover for trainer Ben Baillargeon and owner/breeders Santo Vena of Brampton and Nunzio Vena of Bolton. ON. In 14 starts this season the gelding amassed a record of four wins, two seconds, five thirds and earnings of $259,185.
“The mother was the second horse that they gave me to train and that was the beginning of a good relationship between Santo and Nunzio and me,” said Guelph, ON resident Baillargeon. “They’re just great guys, I am very happy for those two. The horse deserved it and the owners deserved the win too.”
The evening got off a to an exciting start in the two-year-old trotting filly Super Final as it took a photo finish to separate winner Dashing Muscle and runner-up Up And Ready, who hit the wire in 1:56.1. Meadowview Lilly finished four lengths behind the duelling leaders in third.
James MacDonald picked up his first-ever Super Final with the Muscle Mass filly, engineering her third win of the season for trainer Chantal Mitchell and owner James Armitage of Dunrobin, ON.
“She was gutsy as heck, I mean Doug (McNair, with Up And Ready) was coming to her and I thought he had me for sure and she just found a little more,” said Guelph, ON resident MacDonald. “And they’re super nice people and they did a great job training her down. And Chantal and her team, they did a great job with her all year, managed her perfectly, and here we are.”
The result of the three-year-old trotting filly Super Final was even closer as Shape Shifter, Magic Cape and Royalty Deal hit the wire in near-perfect alignment. After a lengthy review of the photograph, officials determined that Shape Shifter and Magic Cape would share the Super Final spoils, while fan favourite Royalty Deal finished third. It was the first ever dead-heat for win in the 21 year history of the Super Finals.
The co-winners stopped the teletimer at 1:55.2, a personal best for Johnny William daughter Magic Cape, who was driven by trainer Michiel Vanderkemp for owner/breeder Sonja Booth of Robbinsville, NJ. Phil Hudon piloted Kadabra daughter Shape Shifter to her third win of the season for trainer Gerald Lilley and owner Tom Crouch of New Smyrna Beach, FL.
The two-year-old pacing filly showdown featured a fierce battle between fan favourite Scarlett Hanover and Voelz Delight. Scarlett Hanover and driver Ed Hensley clocked a :26.3 opening quarter and were under immediate pressure from Voelz Delight and Sylvain Filion, who rang up a :55.1 half. Scarlett Hanover was back out and driving by the 1:23 three-quarters and kept battling all the way to the wire, getting a head in front for the 1:52.1 score. Best Keepsake finished third.
Ashleigh Hensley trains Bettors Delight daughter Scarlett Hanover for Burke Racing Stable LLC of Fredericktown, PA, Frank Baldachino of Clarksburg, NJ, J And T Silva – Purnel & Libby of Delray Beach, FL and Weaver Bruscemi of Canonsburg, PA. The win was the filly’s sixth of the season and boosted her earnings to $378,640.
Complete results from Saturday’s program are available at Woodbine Mohawk Park Results.
Feature Image: Division point leader Pemberton capped off the Gold Series season with a 1:52.4 victory in the $250,000 three-year-old trotting colt Super Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday, Oct. 17 for driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, trainer Paul Walker of Owen Sound and owner/breeders Brenda Walker of Owen Sound and Christine Walker of Tara, ON. (New Image Media photo)