The Snowshoe Series kicked off on Friday night (Jan. 8) at Woodbine Racetrack with St Lads Charger taking advantage of an early speed duel between the favourites and prevailing in a five-across finish.
The 14-1 shot, driven by Trevor Henry, followed in third-place as outsider Every Intention (Jody Jamieson) battled past Three Truths (Sylvain Filion) through a :25.4 speed duel in the first $17,000 division of the series. But after posting middle splits of :55.1 and 1:24.4, Every Intention was swarmed by the late-closers. St Lads Charger, who had tipped first over down the backstretch, prevailed by a nose in a career-best clocking of 1:54.3 and paid $30.40 for the upset win. Brown Dirt Cowboy (Rick Zeron), Hickory Terrific (Mike Saftic) and Hp Black Shadow (Mario Baillargeon) also spread across the track, finishing second through fourth, in the blanket finish with Every Intention fifth.
Victor Puddy trains St Lads Charger, a three-year-old Sportswriter colt owned by Randy Christopher of Rockwood, Ont., Limco Inc. of Chateauguay, Que., and Bill Manes of Rockwood, Ont. St Lads Charger was a $22,000 purchase from the 2014 Canadian Yearling Sale by his connections. He made his 2016 debut in the series a winning one and now has two (consecutive) wins from 11 career starts and $21,220 in total earnings.
Valedictory Series champion Shades Of Bay continued his winning ways in the opening leg of the Snowshoe with a 1:52 score in rein to driver Phil Hudon for trainer Sean Mehlenbacher.
The four-year-old son of Art Major, who was the 1-5 betting favourite, made his move from fourth at the :27.1 opening quarter. He took the lead by the :56.2 half-mile mark, but not before Swapportunity (Mario Baillargeon) got the jump start on him and swept from third to first. Once Shades Of Bay overtook that rival, he raced past three-quarters in 1:24.3 and drew off by more than three lengths down the stretch. Early leader Tower Of Power (Sylvain Filion) came through along the pylons to finish second over Swapportunity.
Shades Of Bay has won four of his five Woodbine races since he was purchased for $35,000 at the Harrisburg Mixed Sale in November by Toronto-based owner Timothy Kim. He now has five wins in 15 career starts and earnings totalling $60,604.
The lightly raced Rafa remains undefeated as he prevailed in the third and final division off a ground-saving trip, which was engineered by Sylvain Filion. Richard Moreau trains the four-year-old homebred son of Camluck, who is owned by Robin Morley of Mildmay, Ont.
Rafa, the 9-5 second choice on the toteboard, got a pocket trip behind Thoughtyoudlikeit (Randy Waples) while Pistopackinpiper (Trevor Henry) forged on to challenge for the leading role, but remained parked out through first-half fractions of :26.4 and :55.4. As Pistopackinpiper threw in the towel down the backside, 8-5 favourite Tylers Beach Boy (Jody Jamieson) rallied three-wide approaching the 1:24.2 third quarter mark and took over the lead into the stretch. However, Filion launched Rafa outside and swept by for the four-length score in 1:52.3. The victory was Rafa’s third in a row and fastest yet. Tylers Beach Boy stayed for second while Shippen Out (James MacDonald) finished third.
Rafa returned $5.90 to his backers at the betting windows and pushed his lifetime earnings to $19,000 for his connections. The victory one of three on the 10-race card for Moreau, Canada’s 2015 win leader.
The Snowshoe Series is for three and four-year-old pacers that are non-winners of two races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015.