Dr. Ian Moore has been clinging to the roller coaster that is Classic Pro for a month and, in spite of Saturday’s Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series win at Mohawk Racetrack, the ride is showing no signs of levelling off.
Starting from post seven in the last of three Gold divisions on the Campbellville oval’s Canada Day program, Classic Pro swept to the front heading by the :55.2 half. The colt hit the three-quarters in 1:24, but seemed to labour through a :29.1 final quarter, hanging on to post a one length 1:53.1 win over fast-closing Red John and Makasi.
“The track is off, but I don’t know,” said Moore of the colt’s relatively flat effort. “Trevor [Henry] said he was pretty well all out there, which is odd.”
Mohawk fans sent Classic Pro off as their top choice Saturday after watching him deliver a pair of impressive performances in the Pepsi North America Cup. Classic Pro and Henry finished second in their June 10 elimination, hitting the wire in 1:50, and fourth in the June 17 final, pacing in 1:49.4. Following the final, Moore opted to give the son of Shadow Play a week in the paddock and he speculated that the time off may have contributed to the colt’s slower clocking on Saturday.
“That week off might not have been good to him. He seems to love his track work, so maybe I shouldn’t have done that,” said Puslinch, Ont. resident Moore. “I just turned him out completely from Saturday to Saturday. I do that a lot with mine. They go tough races; it’s hard to go week after week with them, that’s for sure.”
Moore’s decision to give Classic Pro a break stemmed from the colt’s eligibility to the Meadowlands Pace, which kicks off with eliminations on July 8 followed by the final on July 15. Saturday’s effort gave the trainer pause, but with horses required to arrive at an approved training facility within a 150 mile radius of The Meadowlands by 8 p.m. on Monday, July 3, he and partners Ron and Gail McLellan, principals in R G McGroup Ltd. of Bathurst, N.B., and Serge Savard of St.-Bruno, Que., do not have the luxury of leisurely decision-making. As a result, unless the colt wakes up Sunday morning feeling under the weather, he will likely be heading south for another test against North America’s top pacers.
“Unless anything changes, I think that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll just take that as a training mile I guess,” said Moore. “He was good all week, but I don’t know, just a little off that was all.”
Also worrying Moore as his prized pupil gets ready to leave home is the absence of O’Brien Award-winning caretaker Teesha Symes, who flew to Pennsylvania last week when her father Chuck suffered a ruptured appendix while transporting a load of horses to the Maritimes.
“He had to have emergency surgery down there, so she flew down there to truck the horses to Nova Scotia for him,” explained Moore. “I kind of need somebody with him that knows him. I mean there’s certain days you can’t even catch him in the stall if he decides not to, that’s the way he is. It’ll all work out I’m sure.”
After being a model student through his freshman campaign — which saw Classic Pro earn $121,154 from six thirds in 11 starts — the pacer has grown trickier to handle as his sophomore season progresses. The quirks started around the barn, but they showed up on the racetrack in the June 3 Somebeachsomewhere at Mohawk when Classic Pro made a break and caused Moore to briefly reconsider his decision to race the colt without hopples.
“I trained him down free-legged and we thought, well we’ll try him one week to the next and see what happens,” recalled the horseman. “He’s gotten a lot stronger on the bit this year than he was last year, which is why he made the break that night, he was hitting the stirrups of the bike and hitting the wheel and it just drove him crazy I guess, but we bought a new bike for him. I borrowed one from Gregg McNair for the first couple of starts until we got one of our own.
“And we have earplugs in him, which I think has made a huge difference in him, he’s a lot calmer behind the gate,” Moore continued. “He can obviously go all right free-legged, but I don’t know, it’s been a stressful few weeks with this guy for sure.”
Following his trip to The Meadowlands, Classic Pro will be back at Mohawk Racetrack on July 22 for the third Gold Series test on the three-year-old pacing colt calendar. He will be joined by the other two winners from Saturday’s leg, C L Sportaction and Mc Mach.
C L Sportaction floated away from post three in the first $66,400 division, landing in fifth as Streakavana sprinted out to a :26.3 opening quarter. Heading for the :55 half, driver Jonathan Lachance sent C L Sportaction up the outside and the colt reached the front end before the 1:23.1 three-quarters. Under pressure from a closing Fireball in the stretch, C L Sportaction dug in and fought off the challenge, hitting the wire one-half length on top in a personal best 1:52.4. Osborne Seelster completed the top three.
Saturday’s appearance was C L Sportaction’s first in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, and marked Lachance’s first win on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit. Mario Lachance conditions the Sportswriter colt for owner/breeder Ecuries C. Leblanc Inc. of Saint-Eustache, Que.
Mc Mach scored the quickest win of the three divisions, stopping the Mohawk teletimer at 1:51.3. The son of Mach Three and driver Paul MacDonell got away sixth from post two and avoided an early battle on the front end that ended up with three horses going off stride. Moving toward the half, MacDonell sent Mc Mach up the outside and the colt was on cruise control for the remainder of the mile, crossing the wire one and three-quarter lengths ahead of Arsenal Seelster and Saulsbrook Lanny.
Hall of Fame horseman Bob McIntosh of Windsor, Ont. trains Mc Mach for his partners Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, Ont., and Randy Liepa of Livonia, Michigan. A three-time Grassroots winner at two, Mc Mach sits atop the three-year-old pacing colt point standings heading into the third Gold event on July 1.