After coming close in each of his previous Gold Series starts, three-year-old pacing gelding Mr Carrotts scored a narrow victory in front of a hometown crowd at Georgian Downs on Tuesday evening.
Owned and bred by Melvyn Varcoe of Thornton, Mr Carrotts trailed fan favourite Go Daddy Go in the outer lane for much of the mile and then sprinted down the stretch to get a whisker in front of Sportsmanship for his first Gold Series win. It was also a close contest for third, with pacesetter Star Cover holding off Robert Hill.
Mr Carrotts and driver Paul MacKenzie of Puslinch, ON stopped the Georgian Downs teletimer at 1:53.2 over a “Good” track rated one second slower than normal.
“He always showed talent, but he’s lazy,” said Murray Brethour, who conditions the Mach Three gelding for Thornton resident Melvyn Varcoe and actually sold the horse’s dam, Cueless, to Varcoe’s father Clarence in 2001.
“I bought the mother as a yearling and then I got out of racing and I sold her,” explained the Sunderland resident. “She was a good mare.”
Cueless earned $466,638 in her racing career and produced $240,028 winner Card Hustler in her first mating. Mr Carrotts is her fourth foal and to date he has banked $116,318, with all but $10,000 coming this season. Through 13 sophomore starts the gelding has tallied two wins, three seconds, five thirds and three fifths.
With a five and one-half week break before the fifth and final Gold Leg, Brethour says Mr Carrotts will likely enjoy a mini-vacation before beginning preparations for the regular season finale and, hopefully, the Super Final. The top 10 point earners from the regular season advance to the Super Final and Tuesday’s victory boosted the gelding up the point standings from thirteenth to fifth.
“We’ll give him a couple of weeks off, freshen him up,” said Brethour. “He’s very laid back. It takes a little while to jog him, he don’t get too excited, you’re out there for half an hour.
“Only bad thing about him — I don’t own him,” concluded Brethour, with a chuckle.
In addition to Mr Carrotts’ hometown win, Tuesday’s Gold Series contest also featured the return of 2014 freshman pacing colt champion Reverend Hanover. Sidelined by an injury in May, the son of Sportswriter missed the first three Gold Legs and was looking to make up for lost time from Post 2 in the second $105,000 division.
With Hall of Famer Steve Condren in the race bike, Reverend Hanover controlled the race from start to finish, sailing home two and three-quarter lengths the best in 1:51.4. Pocket-sitter Drachan Hanover earned the second-place share and early challenger J Js Delivery was third.
Milton, ON resident Condren crafted the win for trainer Casie Coleman of Cambridge, ON and owners West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Steve Calhoun of Chatham, ON and Anthony Beaton of Waterdown, ON. With Tuesday’s victory under his belt, Coleman said the winner of $224,500 has a number of open stakes engagements on his calendar before the next Gold Leg.
“He is fully staked up, and there are still enough dances on his plate to rack up some money,” said the trainer. “The next big one would be Sept. 12 at Mohawk, the Simcoe, and I wouldn’t mind a three-year-old open next Saturday (at Mohawk) if they can fill one.”
Through three starts in his two-year-old campaign and Tuesday’s triumph, Reverend Hanover remains undefeated in Gold Series action.
The three-year-old pacing colts and geldings make their final regular season Gold Series start at Woodbine Racetrack on Oct. 2 and the $250,000 Super Final will also be contested at Woodbine on Oct. 10.
Georgian Downs wraps up its 2015 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule on Saturday, Aug. 29 with the fifth Grassroots event for the three-year-old pacing fillies.