Throughout his career Luck O The Irish has been a consistent player on the Ontario Sires Stakes circuit, but the three-year-old trotting colt has recently found a new gear, posting his third straight victory and his first Gold Series win of the season at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday.
“I’ll tell you what it is, he’s a big-strided colt and he’s finally developed power to drive his stride,” said trainer Tom Durand of the colt’s win streak. “He always had the big stride, but he just couldn’t power it, and it’s just like all of a sudden it kind of clicked.
“The combination of that and starting to race him a little more aggressively, once he saw the front end there a few starts ago he kind of woke up,” added the Puslinch, Ont resident, who trains the colt for his wife June Durand.
Luck O The Irish found the winner’s circle for the first time this season off a front-end effort in a July 28 non-winners of two races contest at Mohawk, stopping the teletimer at 1:55.2. Two weeks later he lowered his personal best to 1:54.4, winning a three-year-old conditioned event crowded with his Gold Series peers.
On Monday, starting from Post 5 in the second $70,000 Gold division, driver Sylvain Filion powered the colt off the gate and landed in third on the rail. Rubber Duck rang up the :27 opening quarter, but he was not in charge for long as Filion moved Luck O The Irish to the front.
The fan favourites led the field to a :55.4 half and a 1:25.4 three-quarters and then Luck O The Irish demonstrated some grit, holding off the pocket-sitting Rubber Duck to record a quarter length victory in a personal best 1:53.3. Boli finished well behind the leaders in third.
“His form’s coming really good, a new lifetime mark three weeks in a row now, so it probably won’t happen again,” said Durand with a chuckle.
In 11 starts this season Luck O The Irish has tallied three wins, four seconds and one third for earnings of $80,040. At two the colt captured one Gold Leg, finished second three times and third once in nine starts, for earnings of $141,210. A homebred by Holiday Road and out of Kavita, the consistent youngster has become one of the Durand’s favourites.
“He was a very shy boy as a yearling, very shy. I wouldn’t say nervous, but very shy. And I think for that reason I didn’t have people begging to be partners on him. He didn’t strike you as a brave horse that would be such a good racehorse,” recalled the trainer. “Other than that he’s been pretty straightforward. He’s kind of a dream horse in many ways, we kind of love him.”
Monday’s win, added to the second, sixth and ninth Luck O The Irish posted in the first three Gold Legs, give the colt a total of 78 points and put him among the top 10 point earners with one regular season event remaining.
Last year’s division champion Dont Rush earned his second Gold trophy of the sophomore campaign with a three and one-half length triumph in Monday’s first Gold division. The Infinitif colt lowered his personal best to 1:53.2 with the victory over Madman Hall and Olympic Son.
Trainer-driver Dustin Jones of Waterdown, Ont. shares ownership of Dont Rush with Greg Judson of Athens, Ont. Through six starts this season the colt now has three wins and one third for earnings of $104,160, boosting his lifetime earnings to $401,145. With two wins and one fifth in Gold Series action, Dont Rush sits in second spot in the standings with 105 points.
Eternal Quest leapt to top spot in the division standings with a 1:53.4 score in the final division. Sylvain Filion picked up his second Gold Series win, and fourth of the evening, steering Eternal Quest through deep stretch traffic to nab the neck victory over Covert Operative and Platoon Seelster.
Guelph, Ont. resident Chad Milner conditions Eternal Quest for Murray Ferguson Jr. of Sutton West. In eight starts the Pilgrims Taj son has three wins, three seconds and one third for earnings of $114,440. In four Ontario Sires Stakes appearances Eternal Quest has one Grassroots win, two Gold Series wins and one runner-up result in the Gold Series. He currently leads the division with 125 points.
The three-year-old trotting colts wrap up their regular season at Mohawk Racetrack on September 28. The top 10 point earners from the regular season will return to the Campbellville oval for their $250,000 Super Final on October 10.
(Standardbred Canada with files from WEG, OSS)