Trainer Per Henriksen and driver Chris Christoforou, Jr. had a golden map to the winner’s circle at Georgian Downs on Saturday evening, sweeping both $105,000 Gold Series divisions for the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings.
First off the gate from the Henriksen stable was Bee In Charge, who was sent to the front from Post 5 by Christoforou. The pair hit the quarter in :29 and then sailed on through a :57.4 half and 1:26.2 three-quarters. Reigning division champion Tony Soprano pressed the pace through the final quarter, but Bee In Charge dug in and trotted under the wire one and one-half lengths on top in 1:54.3 Tony Soprano finished second and fan favourite Sass was third.
“Bee In Charge has raced well this season and continued that tonight,” said Campbellville, ON resident Christoforou. “He got off the gate well, made the front and was a very strong winner. He’s a very smart colt and has a strong pedigree. He has improved quite a bit in the last three months.”
Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, ON and David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL share ownership of Bee In Charge, who is a Manofmanymissions half-brother to their $3.9 million winning mare Bee A Magician. Saturday’s win was the gelding’s second in Gold Series action this season, he and Christoforou were also victorious at Mohawk Racetrack in the June 27 season opener. From five wins, two seconds and one third in 10 sophomore starts Bee In Charge has earned $153,940.
On the advice of Henriksen, Christoforou employed similar tactics in the second Gold division, sending Muscle Hustle to the front from Post 1. The colt roared through fractions of :27, :55.4 and 1:23.3 and stayed game to the wire for a head victory in a track, Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) and Canadian record 1:52.2. Warrawee Roo was a game second and Dia Monde was just one-half length back in third.
“I knew I had two good horses and I thought the first one (Bee In Charge), I thought he was going to win, and the second one (Muscle Hustle), I talked to Chris and I said, I think this horse is very good, I said send him to the front and park them, you’ve got no friends out there,” said Henriksen of the front-end effort. “I knew that Muscle Hustle was a very good horse.”
Muscle Hustle’s 1:52.2 mile lowered the 1:53.4 OSS and Canadian record B Strike Three had set at Georgian Downs in a Gold Final in June 2008.
“I don’t think any horse every trotted faster, any three-year-old, trotted faster on a five-eighths mile track,” noted Henriksen. “I got him last year and understood quite early that he had quite a bit of talent.”
Henriksen conditions Muscle Hustle for Ecurie Bergh Inc. of Norwood, ON. In 10 sophomore starts the Muscle Mass son boasts a record of six wins and two seconds for earnings of $174,850. He was also victorious in Gold Series action at Mohawk Racetrack on July 11.
Through the first four Gold Series events Bee In Charge and Muscle Hustle sit atop the three-year-old trotting colt division standings with 133 and 130 points, respectively. The colts will make their last Gold Series start on Oct. 6 at Mohawk Racetrack and the top 10 point earners from the five regular season events will then compete in the $250,000 Super Final at Mohawk on Oct. 15.
So long as they remain healthy, Bee In Charge and Muscle Hustle will spend their Gold Series break competing against the best trotters in North America. On Saturday, Sept. 3 Mohawk Racetrack hosts the Simcoe Trot, and eliminations for the Canadian Trotting Classic are slated for Saturday, Sept. 10 with the $700,000 Final going postward on Saturday, Sept. 17.
“They were sick when the Hambletonian went so we’ve just got to look forward and hope they stay healthy, and then they will make pretty good money,” said Henriksen. “They are both pretty big size, good looking horses, and with a nice gait to them both, and they don’t have very many issues health-wise.”
Both colts had abbreviated two-year-old seasons due to sickness, two starts for Bee In Charge and three for Muscle Hustle, but Henriksen said their limited number of starts and future schedule are the extent of the similarities between the two trotters.
“They’re different horses. Bee In Charge you can do anything to. He don’t care what you do to him, he’s laid back, and the other one is a little more high strung and wants to have it his way, and that’s also the reason he is a little ignorant and stubborn sometimes,” noted the Norwood, ON resident. “That’s the reason he is heading for that opening in the first turn sometimes.”
Muscle Hustle made a break in the August 10 Gold event at Grand River Raceway, attempting an early return to the paddock on the first turn and making a break when driver Randy Waples disagreed with the plan. Christoforou said the colt was flawless on Saturday and expects big things from the trotter through the last two months of stakes action.
“Muscle Hustle was tremendous tonight,” said the reinsman. “He does have a tendency to try and pull himself up at times, but was all business tonight. Hopefully he’s getting over that now and will finish off the season minding his manners. I think he’s going to go some big trips before the year is over and proved tonight he is a top flight colt, and not just in the OSS.”
In addition to Muscle Hustle’s three-year-old trotting colt record, Georgian Downs fans also witnessed an all age track and Canadian record in the Honourable Earl Rowe Memorial Trot. Lookslikeachpndale, in rein to Paul MacDonell, scorched under the wire in 1:51.3 to win the $100,000 contest for trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination of Montreal, QC. Former Ontario Sires Stakes competitor Charmed Life was second and Il Sogno Dream was third.
Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Georgian Downs on Sunday evening, with five $18,000 Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old trotting fillies. The fillies kick off the Aug. 28 program at 6 pm and will also compete in Races 4, 6, 8, and 9.