Three-year-old pacing gelding Flaherty made his first Western Fair start a winning one with a wire-to-wire effort against older foes in The Raceway’s featured $8,300 Preferred 3 on Friday, May 20.
With Bob McClure catch-driving for trainer and co-owner Bill Budd, the 7-5 favourite invading from the WEG circuit rebuffed a mid-mile challenge from a three-wide They Call Me Gordy (Garrett Rooney) and then held off the pocket-pulling Stoney Durkin (Nick Steward) en route to his first Western Fair win.
Despite getting a little steppy in the first turn, Flaherty drove on and took the lead from Stoney Durkin through a :28.1 first quarter. Warrior Call (Alfie Carroll) advanced first over from fourth while They Call Me Gordy was gaining momentum and rallying to his outside. They raced three-across past the half in :58 before Flaherty shook off his rivals and drew clear as the field moved into the backstretch. He then passed three-quarters in 1:26 while Warrior Call flattened out. Down the stretch, Stoney Durkin was launched out of the pocket, but couldn’t tap into Flaherty’s leading margin. The invading Up The Credit gelding prevailed in 1:54.4 by one and a quarter length over Stoney Durkin. Third prize went to Kendal Fresco (Lorne House).
Flaherty, who took his mark of 1:51.3 in the Youthful Series at Woodbine Racetrack earlier this year, earned his fifth career win and now has top-three finishes in nine of his 12 starts for total earnings of $55,120. Budd shares ownership of the bay gelding with the Macks Stable and Joe Carnovale.
Eliminations for the City of London Trotting Series were also contested on Friday’s card of harness racing. The favourites delivered in the filly and mare division as Miami Magic ($3.20, Steve Byron) first front-stepped her way to a 2:00.2 victory for the John Bax stable, scoring by three-quarters of a length over pocket-popping Angel Assault, with Burning Memories seven lengths behind in third. The three-year-old Kadabra filly is owned by the Bax Stable, Glengate Farms, Gaelic Stable, and Don Allensen.
Peter Clements’ lightly raced homebred Cornaro Dasolo filly P C Cantore ($2.90, Curtis Clements) then prevailed off a two-hole trip in 2:00.4, with Sass That Mass chasing her two lengths behind in second. Riversaway recovered from a mid-race miscue to finish third.
In the third split, the Jamie Wilson-trained Shes All Muscle ($2.30, Alfie Carroll) held off pocket-pursuer P C Sweet Dreams by a neck in 2:02.2, with Attitude To Burn following nearly three lengths behind. Chris Wilson owns the winning Muscle Mass miss.
In the first of two eliminations for male trotters, On The Ridge ($3.20) moved up from fifth to catch cover and then rallied home to edge out tempo-setter Heineken Seelster by a head in 2:00.4 and late-closer Galaxy for trainer, driver and co-owner Garrett Rooney. Angela Carroll also shares ownership of the sophomore Kadabra colt.
Owned by driver Scott Wray and trainer Jack Wray, the lightly raced four-year-old Holiday Road son Sergeant Seelster ($31.10) pulled off a 14-1 upset in the final series elimination, swinging off the cover of favourite The Big Muscle and defeating him by half a length in 2:00.2. The front-striding Muscles Bound finished four and a half lengths behind in third.
The finals of the City Of London Series will be contested next Friday, May 27 as part of Molson Pace Night.