Mohawk Racetrack hosted a total of four divisions of the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold Series on Saturday, August 19, with two splits for the two-year-old pacing colts and two for the two-year-old pacing fillies.
Lady Grande wired the field in the first $96,400 OSS division for the fillies, winning in 1:52.3. The Big Jim filly from the No Pan Intended mare Lady Latte was sent to the front by driver Jonathan Drury, setting fractions of :27.2, :56.4, and 1:24.3 before kicking away from first-over pressure by Delaney R and rail-rider Lady Ella to win by three and three-quarter lengths.
Owned by Keith Cassel, Lloyd Stone, Jerome Voldock, and Ontario 1085195, Lady Grande won her first race in seven starts, earning $97,992. Trained by Victor Puddy, she paid $4.80 to win.
“I wasn’t opposed to following James [MacDonald on Big Thong] if he’d come,” Jonathan Drury said. “My horse is actually better out of a hole; she just happened to win on the front tonight. She’s real lazy up there. She seems to keep getting better – I trained her down this week and they added a murphy blind and did a little work on her and she seemed to steer better tonight.”
Almost going wire-to-wire, Percy Blue Chip grabbed the lead before the half and maintained control to win the second OSS filly split, timed in 1:51.4. The daughter of Shadow Play out of the Artsplace mare Advantest sat second to Kendall Seelster through a :28 first quarter before circling to the front, setting fractions of :56.2 and 1:24.1 before progressing to a length-and-a-half victory. Kendall Seelster finished second, while Play The Bell rallied for third.
Sent off the 1-9 favourite, Percy Blue Chip, competing for owners Shadow Two Stable, James and Wilma Mackenzie, and Hudson Standardbred Inc., remains undefeated in three starts, earning $144,600. the filly conditioned by Dr. Ian Moore was driven by Trevor Henry and paid $2.20 to win.
“She was a handful warming up tonight, holy smokes,” Dr. Moore said. “She took off right there on the track on me, like pretty well ran away with me tonight warming up, and I turned her to go the right way thinking that might help and that was worse, so I put ear plugs in her to race, she’s never had them in in her life.
“I think she took a lot out of herself warming up tonight, she had to, it’s impossible that she didn’t. She’s a very smart filly so I’m hoping that this is a phase she’s going through and that she will eventually settle down and relax a bit, but at least she was good in the race, so that’s good to know.
“We’re hoping to go in the Eternal Camnation next week, but it doesn’t give me much time to resolve some of that situation, to get her under control. Hopefully I’ll have a little bit of equipment on her to settle her a bit. I don’t want to T her off, but I’ve got to do something.”
The first of two $98,800 OSS divisions for colt and gelding pacers was claimed by Declan Seelster, swooping from the back to win in 1:51.4 over the even-money favourite Shadow Moon.
Sitting seventh off a :27 quarter, driver Jody Jamieson positioned the Dave Menary-trained colt at the rail, remaining there through splits of :55.3 and 1:23.3 before finding room and advancing to challenge tempo-setter Shadow Moon to the line, edging past by a head with Jimmy Freight three-quarters lengths behind in third.
Owned by Menary Racing Inc., Michael Guerriero, Denis Breton and Tim Purkiss, Declan Seelster, by Big Jim from the Camluck mare Demi Seelster, won in his career debut, earning $49,900. He paid $8.40 to win.
“Putting him in there tonight, I really wished I could have had a maiden start into him. I just told Jody [Jamieson] not to sacrifice him, you know, put him in a spot where if he can win he can win, but it’s an awful lot to ask,” Dave Menary said. “That qualifier was his very first time behind the gate. We did stretch him out a little bit the last three-quarters aiming for this, but you know there’s a difference when they’re down to the quarter in :27 or they’re down to the quarter in :33.
“February-March he was definitely my favourite colt. He just did a lot of growing and his feet were really bothering him right when baby races were getting started. I backed off and worked on his feet, and actually I sent him to a friend of mine, Brian Lee, to go on the TheraPlate and swim for two weeks. Brian did a great job and that really helped him turn the corner.
“And Frank O’Toole was a very good help with the horse, and Jeff Courchesne takes care of him and does a very good job, so just everybody working together. I appreciate my partners’ patience, everybody was getting a little antsy because I touted the colt so much, so early, and they’re watching all our other colts out there racing and winning, and I kept telling them. ‘It’s gonna be okay, it’s gonna be okay,’ and tonight their patience was rewarded.”
Also off a rail trip, Hudson Phil slid to a two-and-a-quarter length victory in the second OSS colt split, winning in 1:52.4. The colt by Shanghai Phil out of The Panderosa mare Hazel was fifth through a :28 quarter and was locked at the pylons as Taste Of History led a two-wide challenge after Goth Hanover, who cleared command before a :56 half. After a third-quarter timed in 1:24, room opened for Hudson Phil to rally as Goth Hanover faltered on the front, edging past pocket-sitter Evening Play and Taste Of History to win.
His third win in five starts, Hudson Phil races for the interests of Hudson Standardbred Inc. and has earned $118,000. Trained by Mark Steacy and driven by James MacDonald, he paid $14.50.
“I was just starting to get a hold of these eleven-horse fields,” James MacDonald said off a victory in the World Driving Championship. “They all just floated out of there and my horse was sharp so I knew I had to drive on at the rail. I was probably going to be pinned in the whole way, but that’s how it works out and I was lucky to slide through late. I looked outside a couple of times and saw Jody [Jamieson driving Lucky Sport] was on the left line, so I tried to slide up the inside of him, and as soon as I got daylight he was full of pace and he launched for me.”
(Standardbred Canada with files from the Ontario Sires Stakes)