It only took until the first of four $30,000 Quebec-Bred Series finals on Sunday (June 26) at the Hippodrome 3R to see a stakes record surpassed.
The series finals, for four and five-year-old trotters and pacers, got underway in the third race for older trotters and Seeyou Men, with catch-driver Guy Gagnon, stole the limelight from three-time champion Maximuscle with a stakes record and lifetime mark of 1:57.
Maximuscle, who was making his final appearance in the series after four years, was up to his bad habit of breaking stride at the start of the race. This enabled Gagnon to send Seeyou Men right to the lead and they never really had to look back.
Through fractions of :29, :59.1, and 1:28.1, Seeyou Men easily fended off a minor challenge in the backstretch from Me The Boss (Louis-Philippe Roy) and then pulled away in the stretch to win by three and one-half lengths, with the last quarter mile in :28.4. Me The Boss was second with Promesses Imperial (Jerome Lombart) third. Maximuscle had recovered and nearly caught the field, finishing fourth.
The win was the third in seven starts this year for Seeyou Men. The four-year-old gelding by Muscle Mass is trained by Isabelle Darveau for owners Catheline Pelletier of Mirabel, Que. and Chantal Gravel of St-Cyrille-De-Wendover, Que. He paid $6.90 to win.
The time of 1:57 is the fastest trotting mile ever in the history of Quebec-Bred Series. The previous stakes record was 1:57.3 set last year by Maximuscle.
The gustiest race on the card came in the sixth race finale for older trotting mares as SOS Revange and driver Gaetan Lamy put on a show for the race fans.
Unable to get on-stride for the start of the race, SOS Revange spotted the field 25 lengths right at the start.
Fortunately, Double Chance and driver Sylvain Lacaille played hardball with Kim Sorel and Martin Gingras as those two battled head and head to the opening quarter-mile in :28.1 with Gingras finally backing off.
But back on-stride and flying three-wide was Lamy and SOS Revange around the second turn, staying parked out three-wide to the half-mile in :59.1 before being able to clear the field and take the lead.
Opening up by two lengths in the backstretch, SOS Revange and Lamy kept their lead intact past the three-quarter mile marker in 1:29.1. Then in the stretch, SOS Revange began to tire, but still had enough trot left to hold off SOS Afterthestorm (Francine Morrissette) and win by three-quarters of a length in 2:00.4. Viva Bayama (Denis St Pierre) was third.
Trained by Jean Tourigny for Quebec owners Claude Hamel of Ayer’s Cliff, Michel Damphousse of Louiseville, and Jean Claude Vinette of St-Didace, SOS Revange earned her fourth win in just six starts this year. The four-year-old mare by Kadabra paid $9.40 to win.
Voodoo Charm, driven by Mario Charron, picked the perfect spot to get her first win of the 2016 season after four starts, capturing the eighth race $30,000 Quebec-Bred Series finale for pacing mares.
The overwhelming 1-2 betting favourite, Chaleurs Fantasy, left from post two for owner/breeder/trainer/driver Carl Duguay and was challenged immediately for the lead by Charron and Voodoo Charm, with Charron backing off into third-place by the opening quarter-mile in :28.3.
Then right before the half-mile in :59, Charron came back with Voodoo Charm and locked horns once again with Chaleurs Fantasy, only this time they were able to not only collar the race leader, but clear to the front at the three-quarters in 1:28.
From there, it seemed to be a walk in the park for Voodoo Charm and Charron as they won with ease by three open lengths in 1:58.3. HP Rubis Joyce (Louis-Philippe Roy) had been following Voodoo Charm second-over and was able to get second-place money with Chaleurs Fantasy finishing third.
Trained by Maxime Velaye, Voodoo Charm is a four-year-old mare by Ponder, who had captured the championship last year at age three. She is owned by Yvan Mondoux of Blainville, Guy Corbeil of Mirabel, Alexandre Morin of Drummondville, and Francois Laverdiere of Sherbrooke, Que. She paid $6.50 to win.
The fastest mile of the day, as expected, was in the ninth race finale for older pacers as, for the second straight year, Atomic Million AM showed his dominance in the series, leading from start to finish for driver Sylvain Lacaille.
With the rail to their advantage from the start, Lacaille sent the five-year-old gelding by Million Dollar Cam right to the lead and held off an early challenge by C L Art Magic (Yves Filion) to the first quarter in :27.
Lacaille was able to give Atomic Million AM a little breather to the half-mile in :56 as Killer Thriller (Guy Gagnon) came first-over and gave Half A Billion (Louis-Philippe Roy) great second-over cover. That lasted to the three-quarters in 1:24.1, when Roy sent Half A Billion three-wide to make a challenge on the final turn, but Atomic Million AM proved to be much the best, holding off C L Art Magic for second and Half A Billion third, winning by one and one-quarter lengths in 1:53.3.
Owned, trained and bred by Alain Martin of Gatineau, Que., Atomic Million AM earned his third win this year. He paid $3.90 to win.
(Standardbred Canada with files from QJC)