Ron Waples piloted two-year-old trotting filly Devils Advocate to a Gold Series win at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening, but the Hall of Fame horseman says his assignment to the Jack Darling trainee’s race bike could be a temporary one.
“Well when we were training her down, and I’d just started working for Jack, we were just talking one day and I said, ‘I hope that whoever drives her just backs her off the gate a couple times to get her used to it, so she don’t get stupid,’” recalled Waples, who turned 71 on Tuesday. “And Jack says, ‘Well you’re gonna go with her.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t need to be out there anymore, we’ll put somebody up that’s gonna be out there oftener than me.’ And he said, ‘No, I want you to go with her.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll tell you what the deal is, I’ll go with her ‘til I screw up and then we’re firing me.’ “So far I’m still employed I think,” he added with a chuckle.
Starting from Post 4, Waples sent Devils Advocate to the front and never had to glance over his shoulder. The Manofmanymissions daughter rolled through fractions of :28.2, :59.2, and 1:28.1, then pulled away from the field to a four and one-half length victory in 1:57. Its All About Sam and fan favourite Sky Angel finished second and third.
“She’s a bit jittery you know, like she’s a kind of a nervous thing — not that she’s a puller or anything like that — but we’ve been really careful with her and it’s paying off, she’s just getting a little better all the time,” said Waples, who last appeared in the Mohawk winner’s circle on May 28, 2010. “She’s just a super gaited little thing, and you’ve always gotta pull her up at the end of her mile. She’s not a horse or a filly that just pulls itself up; you’ve got to always pull her up, which is a good sign, good wind to her.”
Cambridge, ON resident Darling acquired the half-sister to $175,699 winner Unabating from last fall’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale for $47,000.So far Waples, who makes his home in Guelph, ON, has piloted Devils Advocate through three qualifiers, a June 28 overnight event at Georgian Downs where she made a break, and the July 12 Gold Series season opener at Georgian Downs where she finished second.
When Waples and Darling met in the winner’s circle on Thursday they pulled the race bike off Devils Advocate and held the Ontario Sires Stakes blanket up behind the jittery youngster for the trophy presentation and photograph.
“I didn’t want to have the bike on her up there in the winner’s circle and her flip herself over backwards and bust the bike or something, so I said we’ll take it off and get her picture taken that way,” Waples explained. “She’s getting better, like I said, but she’s not foolproof yet.
“But I think she’s worth working on, or waiting on,” he added.
The other two Gold Series trophies went home with first-time winner Magical Wonder and division leader Caprice Hill.
Magical Wonder and driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, ON opened the evening with a sprint to the wire that saw them snatch a neck victory away from Powerful Glare, Caprice Hill’s stablemate in the Tony Alagna barn. Northern Sweetie finished third in the 1:58.2 mile.
Like Devils Advocate, Magical Wonder had started in one overnight event, logging a second-place result at Rideau Carleton Raceway on July 2, and the Gold Series season opener, where she was third. The Kadabra daughter is trained by John MacMillan for owner-breeder Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc. of Lakefield Gore, QC.
A winner in the season opener, Caprice Hill cruised to another easy victory in the third division. The Kadabra daughter and driver Yannick Gingras — who made the trip up from his Allentown, NJ home expressly to drive Caprice Hill — sat fourth through the early going, stepped into the outer land heading for the half and had taken control by the three-quarters, pulling away in the stretch to a three and three-quarter length victory in 1:56. Danish Darby and High Heels completed the top three.
Manalapan, NJ resident Tony Alagna trains Caprice Hill for Tom Hill of Lancashire, GB. The half-sister to $278,868 winner Bramalea Hanover was a $55,000 purchase from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale. With 100 points through two events, the talented youngster has a firm hold on top spot in the division point race.
The two-year-old trotting fillies will also make their third Gold Series start at Mohawk Racetrack, returning to the Campbellville oval on August 4.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)