Confidently handled by driver Chris Christoforou, Sports Column delivered on his pari-mutuel promise with a front-end effort in the $159,500 Battle of Waterloo for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing colts and geldings to close out Grand River Raceway’s Industry Day celebrations on Monday, August 1.
The Blake MacIntosh-trained Sports Column was the 1-2 favoured elimination winner with the inside post position. The other elimination winner, 3-1 second choice Calvin K (Jody Jamieson), left from post two and attempted to cross in front of Sports Column off the gate, but broke stride around the first turn taking himself out of contention.
“I was looking to cut them loose and then remove,” said Christoforou afterwards of the early racing action involving Jamieson and Calvin K. “I could tell what he was trying to do and I probably would have done the same type of thing, but it didn’t work out so we just kept right on going.”
Not having to remove to the front left Christoforou certain of the race’s outcome.
“I was never in doubt from there,” he said.
Sports Column came away with the lead and carved out a :28.2 first quarter before Classic Pro (Randy Waples) took his shot, moving first over from fifth. Sports Column rebuffed that rival and held clear to three-quarters in 1:26.4 before digging in down the stretch to pull away by two lengths in 1:55.4. Happy Trio (Sylvain Filion) overtook Aston Hill Dave (Doug McNair), who secured a pocket trip from the trailing tier and finished third.
Sports Column is the first colt that his Campbellville, Ont. reinsman has guided to victory in Grand River’s signature race.
“It’s been awhile and I’ve been in enough of them, I was hoping today would be my day and it was and I’m very happy,” said Christoforou, noting that he was very confident Sports Column would achieve the result he was hoping for heading into the race. “I thought with the rail he was about 99 percent there before the gate opened. I’ve got a lot of confidence in this colt. He’s a very good colt and Blake’s done a heck of a job with bringing him down and getting him ready.”
“I always have this race circled,” said Cambridge, Ont. conditioner Blake MacIntosh, who also earned his first Battle of Waterloo victory. “We’ve had some bad luck in it — we broke in it three times — and I just wanted to win this race so bad.
“I’m never too confident. I thought we had a good shot and I was just praying all week that everything went right. He trained a little on the right line so I was scared all week, but ‘Greek’ [Christoforou] did a great job with him and I’ve got to thank Mr. and Mrs. Thomson for giving me the opportunity to train horses for them.”
MacIntosh shares ownership of the Sportswriter-Lady Leslie colt with Joe and Joann Thomson’s Pennsylvania-based Hutt Racing Stable, and Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, Que.
Sports Column now has three wins and two seconds in five career outings and the lion’s share of the purse boosted his bankroll to $169,500.
“He was just special from the start, I thought,” said MacIntosh “It’s just a dream to have a horse like him.”
Sports Column’s next assignment will be the Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg on August 11 at Mohawk Racetrack, followed by the Champlain Stakes.