On a program full of Grand Circuit Stakes, Ontario’s top three-year-old pacing colts put on an impressive show in two $98,000 Gold Series divisions Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack.
After spending five weeks battling some of the top pacers on the Mohawk circuit, Sports Column celebrated his return to Ontario Sires Stakes action with an impressive 1:50.1 victory over Nascar Seelster and Mach Deja Vu.
Lining up behind Post 4 with Brett Miller in the race bike, Sports Column landed in third as Manceiver took the field of 10 to a :27 quarter, but the fan favourite was soon rolling up the outside and had taken command by the :54.4 half. Under pressure from Mach Deja Vu at the 1:22.3 three-quarters, Sports Column found another gear in the stretch and pulled away to a two length victory, his second straight in Gold Series competition.
“He was impressive tonight,” said trainer Blake MacIntosh. “He’s come back to form since we put him on Lasix (July 22) and hopefully everything keeps going right and we can finish off the year the way I was hoping we’d start it.”
Cambridge, ON resident MacIntosh shares ownership of Sports Column with Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, PA and Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, QC. In 11 sophomore starts the Sportswriter colt has posted two wins, both in Gold Series action, two seconds and four thirds for earnings of $130,000. Monday’s victory propelled him to the top of the three-year-old pacing colt point standings with a total of 110.
The sophomore pacing colts make their last regular season Gold start at Mohawk on Oct. 2 and the top 10 points earners will return to the Campbellville oval for the $225,000 Super Final on Oct 14. Before he wraps up his Ontario Sires Stakes career, however, Sports Column has a pair of open stake engagements south of the border.
“He’s eligible to the race at Scioto (Downs) next week (Sept. 9), the Jug Preview, and then he’s got the Jennas Beach Boy in Indiana (Hoosier Park, Sept. 22),” said MacIntosh. “And then he’s got the next Gold on Oct. 2, then Super Finals on Oct 14 and then the Matron (Dover Downs, Nov. 9).”
The second Gold division saw heavy favourite Classic Pro suffer his first defeat of the season against Ontario Sires Stakes company. Rather than the two-time Gold Series winner it was first-time Ontario Sires Stakes winner Bills Fella who hit the wire first, stopping the clock in a personal best 1:51.1.
“Something was bothering Classic Pro there tonight, and it ended up things worked out great for us,” said trainer Gregg McNair. “I inherited the win I think somehow, that horse wasn’t himself tonight, Classic Pro, but our horse raced real good, he paced strong to the wire.”
Bills Fella and driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville, ON lined up behind Post 5 in the nine-horse second division and were sitting fifth when Arsenal Seelster reached the quarter in :26.4. Saftic was looking to follow Classic Pro into the outer lane, but was forced to go around the favourite when driver Trevor Henry dropped back down onto the rail before the :55.4 half. Instead of Classic Pro, Bills Fella ended up following Dreamfair BJ up the outside to the 1:23.2 three-quarters, and when Saftic tipped the gelding out in the stretch Bills Fells sprinted under the wire a one and one-half length winner over pocket-sitter Red John and pacesetter Arsenal Seelster.
The win was the third of the season for Bills Fella and his first in Ontario Sires Stakes action. The son of Artistic Fella and Lucky Louisa started the season with a third-place finish at the Grassroots level and then finished third to Sports Column in the July 22 Gold event.
“I think this is his second Gold. We raced him in one before and he was third, but he was all out,” recalled McNair, who bred and owns Bills Fella with Ian Fleming of Londesborough. “I mean much further to go and I think he was going to be fourth that night, but tonight he was good and strong. Mike said he paced strong, right to the wire, so we were happy with that.”
Bills Fella is the grandson of McNair and Fleming’s former Gold Series star Claires Apache and the trainer says her sophomore season in 2005 may be the last time the pair hoisted a Gold trophy.
“I don’t think we’ve had a Gold win for, well Claires Apache would be our last Gold win, I believe. We’ve been putting lots back in, so it’s nice to get a little out once in a while,” added the Guelph, ON resident, ruefully.
Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday, Sept. 4 with Grassroots action for the two-year-old pacing colts and two-year-old trotting fillies. The pacing colts will kick things off in the first race at 7:30 pm.
(Ontario Sires Stakes recap courtesy of the OSS)