TORONTO, ON — Ontario’s gifted trotters and pacers brought the provincial stakes season to a close in spectacular fashion at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday evening, with five of eight $300,000 Super Finals decided by less than a length.
One of the largest margins of victory was recorded by two-year-old pacing colt Prodigal Seelster, who laid down an outstanding effort in his final start of the season. Three-wide heading into the first turn, the Camluck son and driver Randy Waples took command of the race just past the :26.1 opening quarter and then roared on to a :54.2 half. Milton, ON resident Waples was able to give Prodigal Seelster a brief breather to the 1:24 three-quarters before shifting back into high gear for a sprint to the wire that saw them stop the clock at 1:51.3, two lengths ahead of the colt’s stablemate Watermelonwine.
“He’s been such a special colt,” said an emotional Larry Menary, who shares ownership of Prodigal Seelster with Denis Breton of Welland, ON, Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown, ON, and Double Or Nothing Stables of Hamilton, ON. “Randy (Waples) said earlier in the year, he said he’s an unbelievable machine, and we’re so fortunate that we’ve had such good luck with the colt after our bad loss there earlier in the year.”
Cheltenham, ON resident Menary, Breton and Double Or Nothing Stables’ Phil Silvestri and Joseph Settimi’s 2010 started off on a tragic note when their former Ontario Sires Stakes star Fast Pay died in early January. The winner of $424,000 had provided his owners with a series of outstanding moments on the provincial circuit including a Grassroots Championship at two and an Ontario Sires Stakes record effort (1:49) at Mohawk last summer.
The partners found some consolation in the raw potential being exhibited by their two-year-olds, and since his debut in the season opening Gold Series event at Mohawk Racetrack, Prodigal Seelster has blown the doors off those fragile early hopes. The colt captured his elimination and the final of the Battle of Waterloo at Grand River Raceway in a stakes, track and Canadian record 1:53.2, won his Nassagaweya division at Mohawk, captured his Metro Pace Elimination at Mohawk in 1:50, and returned to the Ontario Sires Stakes program in October to record a 1:55.2 over a sloppy Rideau Carleton Raceway.
Saturday’s Super Final victory boosted the Dave Menary trainee’s freshman record to six wins, one third and $479,455 in earnings through 10 starts.
“We thought so much of him we bought his full sister out of the Forest City Sale, she was the highest priced filly in the Forest City Sale, a Camluck,” added Menary. “I think what everybody has to realize, with the Ontario Sires Stakes, it’s a really, really exciting program. We’ve got the best in the world with the Ontario Sires Stakes program.”
Watermelonwine, the second stringer from Cheltenham resident Dave Menary’s barn, finished a hard closing second after circling out three-wide around a stalled Some Mach Some Win at the three-quarters. Hot on Watermelonwine’s heels from the outset was Mach Of Ballykeel, who finished just one-quarter of a length back in third. Fan favourite and Metro Pace winner Mystician was never a factor in the race and had to settle for fourth.
Waples, who picked up the drive on Prodigal Seelster when the colt’s regular reinsman, New Jersey resident Tim Tetrick, had another commitment south of the border, made a second appearance in the winner’s circle on Super Final Saturday with an equally confident steer behind three-year-old trotting colt Text Me.
“Bob (McIntosh) just had him unbelievable tonight. That’s what it boils down to, right there,” said Waples. “When he looks at you leaving the paddock and he tells you that this horse is fresh and ready to go, that’s a pretty good feeling. You’re dealing with like, the top trainer in the world, so when he tells you one is ready, you’re pretty cocky.”
With McIntosh’s words in mind, Waples wasted no time taking command of the race, sending Text Me straight to the front from Post 8. At the quarter in :27.2, the veteran reinsman was then able to steal a soft second fraction, reaching the half in :57.4. While Arriba Amigo attempted a charge up the outside, Text Me’s lead was never in question and the colt cruised through a 1:26.4 three-quarters to a 1:54.4 victory.
Last year’s Super Final winner, Text Me was the horse to beat on the Ontario Sires Stakes circuit this season, winning three Gold Eliminations and two Gold Finals. Through 19 outings Waples drove the Kadabra colt to nine wins, four seconds, one third and earnings of $554,727 for Windsor, ON resident McIntosh and his partners Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, ON and C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH.
“He does everything you ask him to do — sometimes he does more than what you should ask him to do, and he’ll still give it to you,” said Waples. “He’s got heart, he’s got smarts, he’s got gait. He’s going to end up being a great sire some day.”
Grumpy Jake, owned by Haryott Stables Inc. of Etobicoke, ON, closed hard to earn second-place honours, while Windsun Galaxie turned his pocket trip into a third-place cheque. Fan favourite Lexis Noah was forced out three wide at the three-quarters and made a late charge, but could get no closer than sixth for owner-trainer Norm Dunstan of Caledon Village, ON.
Mark MacDonald bettered Waples’s Super Final results by one, guiding three talented pacers to victory. The Cambridge, ON resident scored his first triumph in the second $300,000 test, preserving two-year-old pacing filly Modern Connection’s flawless OSS record with a neck victory over Monkey On My Wheel and Shipps Xanadu.
Modern Connection halted the Woodbine teletimer in a personal best 1:52.1 for trainer Joe Seekman and owners Yousif S. Yousif of Chesterfield, MI and Ameer Najor of Meadow Lands, PA.
MacDonald picked up the drive aboard three-year-old pacing colt division leader Mach Dreamer when Rick Zeron injured his shoulder following the second race, and the reinsman turned the opportunity into a second visit to the winner’s circle. Mach Dreamer stuck a neck in front of fan favourite Twin B Warrior at the wire, stopping the clock at 1:50.2. After carving the early fractions and then providing a wind break for Mach Dreamer, Dalhousie Dave stayed game for third.
Murray Brethour of Sunderland, ON trains Mach Dreamer for owner-breeder Stephen Scarff of Halifax, NS. Through 21 sophomore starts the Mach Three son boasts a record of nine wins, four seconds, two thirds and earnings of $474,927.
MacDonald’s final appearance in the winner’s circle came with three-year-old pacing filly Western Silk, who battled to a head victory over Preppy Party Girl in a thrilling stretch drive that saw the dueling leaders outdistance third-place finisher Tiz To Dream by six lengths. The 1:50.4 victory was the eleventh in 15 starts this season for Western Silk, who went undefeated through her Gold Series appearances, and captured the Fan Hanover Final in June and the prestigious Jugette in September for trainer Casie Coleman of Cambridge, ON and her partner Tom Hill of Lancashire, GB.
The other Super Final trophies were awarded to three-year-old trotting filly Random Destiny, who reeled in rival Emmylou Who for a 1:55 score; Oh Sweet Baby, who scored an upset 1:56.2 triumph in the two-year-old trotting filly contest; and Daylon Magician, who reeled off an Ontario Sires Stakes record 1:55.3 in the two-year-old trotting colt battle.
To view all eight Super Finals click: Super Final Results
For complete results click: Woodbine Racetrack Results — Nov. 13, 2010