CAMPBELLVILLE — Captain Brady delivered the first flawless performance of his brief career to collect an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Elimination trophy at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening.
The three-year-old trotting colt had gone off stride in all three of his prior performances at the Campbellville oval, so driver Trevor Ritchie opted for a front-end strategy Saturday hoping to keep the erratic youngster focused on the finish line. The plan paid off as Captain Brady led his peers through fractions of :28, :58.4 and 1:28.1 before stopping the clock in an impressive 1:55.4, the fastest mile recorded to date by any of the colts competing in the OSS season opener.
“That was a heck of a mile. He has a world of talent. He has a few kinks in his armour yet — some mental and some physical,” said Ritchie after the race. “I think he has the talent to be any kind of horse. At this stage of his career at three, he has as much speed as any trotter I’ve driven.”
Astute Mohawk fans sent the Dan Creighton trainee off as their top choice based on the pair of wins he posted over the seven-eighths mile course on April 3 and 17, overcoming breaks in both races, and the solid effort he posted in a May 6 qualifier over a sloppy track. Strathroy resident Creighton trains Captain Brady for his partners in Danterra Standardbreds.
Last year’s Sires Stakes regular Kingdom finished four lengths behind Captain Brady in his 2003 debut for trainer-driver Rick Zeron of Oakville, The Camel Club of Hamilton and Gestion Charest Ltee. of Montreal, QC, while another OSS veteran, Heavy Raincoat, was one more length back in third. Fourth and fifth-place finishers Deadmans Curve and Jayport Express will also return to Mohawk next Sunday for the $130,000 Gold Final.
The other elimination went to Hall of Fame horseman Ron Waples and JM Vangogh who ran down pacesetter Meadowview Sunny in the stretch to record their second win of the season. The Earl son stopped the clock at 1:57.3 to bank the lion’s share of the $53,117 purse for owners Paul Chambers of Harrington, DE and John Mello of Georgetown, MA.
The win was twice as satisfying for JM Vangogh’s connections as it marked the youngster’s first appearance in an OSS event since a devastating fall in a Gold Final at Mohawk last October.
“To this day I still don’t know why he fell,” said Waples Saturday. “It looked pretty bad — his one knee and ankle were pretty banged up. In fact, the cut in the ankle was right near the joint capsule and if it had been much further, we would have had to put him down. Really, I didn’t think he’d come back this good after an injury like that.
“If this is any indication of what lies ahead, I can hardly wait for tomorrow,” added the Guelph resident.
Gerry Lavec pressed the pace through the final stages of the mile and landed three-quarters of a length back in second for his efforts while fan favourite and early leader Meadowview Sunny settled for third. Call To Order was just half a length behind the leaders in fourth, while Semi Spot nailed down the final spot on the gate in next Sunday’s lucrative Gold Final, part of Mohawk Racetrack’s special 6:30 pm Victoria Day program.
Ontario Sires Stakes excitement returns to Campbellville on Monday evening when the three-year-old trotting fillies kick off their Gold Series season in Races 1, 3 and 6.