Woodbine Racetrack fans got a preview of next week’s Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final as the three-year-old pacing colts delivered a pair of impressive performances on Friday evening in the last regular season event on the Gold Series calendar.
Six of the top 10 point-earners lined up on the starting gate in the second $105,000 Gold division and six of the nine starters had their accelerators down early. Physicallyinclined and driver Paul MacDonell won the first battle, reaching the opening quarter in a snappy :25.3. The pair looked under threat from Go Daddy Go and fan favourite Reverend Hanover in the outer lane, but Go Daddy Go made a break that pushed Reverend Hanover into the middle of the racetrack and allowed MacDonell to sneak in a quick breather for his colt.
Reverend Hanover caught Physicallyinclined just before the :54.1 half and led the field to a 1:22.3 three-quarters. As the colts squared up for the stretch drive, Guelph, Ont. resident MacDonell fired Physicallyinclined out of the pocket and the Mach Three son rocketed down the stretch to a one-half length win in 1:50.2. Reverend Hanover settled for second after his interrupted tour of the racetrack and Drachan Hanover was three lengths back in third.
“He’s a tough horse,” Dr. Ian Moore said of Physicallyinclined. “We got him ready in a hurry, we had no choice really, he has nothing left after these two races.”
After posting a record of four wins and two seconds in his first seven starts this season, Physicallyinclined suffered an injury in mid-July that saw him miss two months of action on the Gold Series circuit. The colt re-qualified on Sept. 18 at Mohawk Racetrack and made his first start since the injury in a Sept. 25 overnight event at Mohawk, posting a 1:51.2 win. Tied for ninth in the division standings heading into the regular season finale, Physicallyinclined secured a berth in the Oct. 10 Super Final with Friday’s win, his first in Gold Series action.
“All the owners were up, so they were very pleased,” said Dr. Moore, who conditions the North America Cup Consolation winner for Bruce McGean of Stewiacke, N.S. and Sterling Feener of Sydney, N.S. “We’re looking forward to next week.”
The Guelph, Ont. resident noted that Physicallyinclined had an easier tour around the Woodbine oval than a number of his peers and said he will have to be back at the top of his form for next Saturday’s $250,000 Super Final test.
“He should be fairly fresh, but Reverend Hanover is going to be fresh too. There are several good colts in that division, it’s not going to be a cakewalk for anybody,” said the trainer. “It will be a tough race, that’s for sure.”
The sophomore pacing colts also delivered a thrilling finish in the first $105,000 division, with His Boy Elroy prevailing by one-half length over Mr Carrotts and Moonwriter in 1:52.
Starting from post five, driver Mike Saftic settled His Boy Elroy into the fourth spot and watched as Sportsmanship rang up a :26.3 quarter and :55.3 half. Just after the halfway marker, Saftic sent His Boy Elroy up the outside and the Jeremes Jet son was leading the charge up the outer lane at the 1:24.3 three-quarters. Shifting into high gear in the stretch, His Boy Elroy powered by the leaders to claim his first Gold Series trophy, adding it to the Grassroots hardware he won at Mohawk on July 31.
Third in the Grassroots Championship at Mohawk on Sept. 26, His Boy Elroy is not eligible to the Super Final, but runner-up Mr Carrotts and pacesetter Sportsmanship both qualified for the lucrative post season.
Campbellville, Ont. resident Saftic engineered His Boy Elroy’s fifth win in 23 starts for trainer Jean Guy Belliveau of Cambridge, Ont. and owner Dan MacRae of Baddeck, N.S.
The top 10 point-earners from all eight trotting and pacing divisions will spend the next eight days preparing for the $2 million Super Finals at Woodbine Racetrack on Oct. 10, and if Friday’s regular season finale was any indication, fans are in for a night of outstanding racing.