Reigning division and North America Cup champion Betting Line captured his sixth straight victory in the second of two $105,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series divisions at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening (July 23).
Starting from post eight in a skirmish that also featured the number one and two point earners in the three-year-old pacing colt division, Magnum J and Sintra, Betting Line eased away from the starting gate and watched from sixth as Magnum J and Arsenic duelled to a :26.3 opening quarter. Magnum J was still in control at the :55.2 half, but Semi Automatic, Sintra and Betting Line had shifted into the outer lane and were threatening by the 1:22.1 three-quarters.
Rolling off the turn, driver Jonathan Drury of Guelph, Ont. shifted Betting Line into overdrive and, in spite of a few wonky steps, the colt laid down a :26.4 final quarter to claim his sixth straight victory and second straight in Gold Series action. Sintra was three lengths back in second and Magnum J held on for third in the 1:50 mile.
“We’re not exactly sure what he did just quite yet,” said trainer Casie Coleman of Betting Line’s awkward stretch drive. “JD [Drury] said he couldn’t have felt any better, he was just jogging, and he never spoke to him, just sitting there on him like a passenger and all of a sudden he just got all out of gear.
“We don’t see anything on the track, and I don’t see any marks on him where he touched himself or nothing, and JD said once he gathered him out of it, he was perfect and pulled up good,” Coleman continued. “It’s kind of a head scratcher for us, but he has had a tendency in the past, when he gets all by himself alone on the front, he just kind of looks at stuff — that’s why he wears that big shadow roll — but every once in a while he sees something. He did do it right at the wire in the Somebeachsomewhere, not near as bad as that tonight, but yeah, I wish we could, obviously, 110 per cent correct whatever that problem is, but we really don’t know.”
Overall, Coleman was very pleased with the way Betting Line raced in his first start since having a splint treated in early July.
“I was really, really happy with the way he was steering tonight,” said the Cambridge, Ont. resident, who shares ownership of Betting Line with Ross Warriner of Burlington, Ont., Christine Calhoun of Chatham, Ont., and Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont. “That splint actually took me almost two weeks before I could even train him.”
The son of Bettors Delight and Heathers Western will enjoy one more week of relative leisure before his schedule shifts into high gear. Following the fourth Gold Series leg at Georgian Downs on August 7, Betting Line heads to Northfield Park for the August 13 Carl Milstein Memorial, followed by the Battle of Brandywine at Pocono Downs on August 20. The final Gold leg goes postward September 7 at Mohawk and the Campbellville oval also hosts the Simcoe Stakes on September 10, before Betting Line heads back to the U.S.A. for the Little Brown Jug on September 22.
“He gets pretty busy now, so I was glad to be able to give him a little bit of a break, in this little gap,” said Coleman of the winner of $1,224,922. “He needed that time.”
Betting Line will be joined in the Carl Milstein Memorial by his Ontario rival Sintra, who has also been invited to the August 13 event.
“Instead of being a ‘paid into’ event, this year it’s an invitational and Sintra’s been invited to that, so that’s going to fit pretty big on his radar,” said trainer Dave Menary of the Mach Three colt he owns in partnership with Brad Gray of Dundas, Ont. and Michael Guerriero of Brampton, Ont.
While Sintra settled for his second runner-up finish behind Betting Line, his stablemate Nvestment Bluechiptook home the Gold Series trophy from the first division.
Starting from post five, driver Jody Jamieson of Moffat, Ont. fired Nvestment Bluechip off the gate and reached the opening quarter in :26.3. The pair then settled in behind fan favourite Gerries Sport, who led the field to a :55 half and 1:23.3 three-quarters. Jamieson tipped Nvestment Bluechip out as the colts turned for home and the Shadow Play son was able to reel in the favourite and grab his first win of the season in a personal-best equalling 1:51.1. Gerries Sport finished a neck back in second and Nocturnal Bluechip was three-quarters of a length back in third.
“Tonight’s, I think, a pick me up for the horse and our ownership group, and Jody and I,” said Menary. “I mean he was supposed to be the star of the barn this year, where Sintra’s had the limelight so far.
“He come back so good, and maybe he got thrown to the wolves a little bit early,” added the trainer. “He was in pretty tough, and he had the odd bad post, and nothing really lined up, but the money’s in the bank, he’s a good horse and hopefully this is a step in the right direction, that he’s turned the corner.”
The win was the first in seven sophomore starts for Nvestment Bluechip, who won four of 11 outings at two, including three Gold legs and his Champlain Stakes division, in addition to finishing second in the Super Final and third in the Breeders Crown.
“He was just a good horse, he just did it week-in-week-out. He did it on the five-eighths, seven-eighths, he did it in the pocket, off the pace, locked in, on the front end,” said Menary. “Now, there’s so many good horses. When you’re two, you’re able to win a little bit slower, you can get by with a few flaws and little bit of bad luck, but when you’re three, they can all go so fast, there’s so many good horses, you can’t get by with bad luck or flaws.”
Cambridge, Ont. resident Menary shares ownership of Nvestment Bluechip with Michael Guerriero of Brampton, Ont., Denis Breton of Welland, Ont. and Thomas Kyron of Toronto. Saturday’s win boosted the colt’s lifetime earnings to $452,303 and he will be looking to pad that total further when the three-year-old pacing colt titans gather for the fourth time on August 7 at Georgian Downs.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS and WEG)