The 2015 Ontario Sires Stakes season kicked off on Wednesday at The Raceway at the Western Fair District with three-year-old trotting colt Olympic Son winning the first of the evening’s four $52,500 Gold divisions.
A two-time Grassroots winner as a freshman, Olympic Son and driver Trevor Henry established the lead from post three and carved out fractions of :28.4, :59.2 and 1:28.3 over the “good” track en route to the 1:58.2 triumph by two and a half lengths. Luck O The Irish (Tom Durand), a top three OSS money earner in the division last year, advanced first over to finish second while the 4-5 favoured Tie Silk Series champion, Covert Operative (Randy Waples), tracked his cover and just missed stealing the runner-up honours trotting out three-wide.
Olympic Son paid $4.10 to win as the even-money second choice. The Majestic Son-Graceful Sister colt is trained by Paul Reid and owned and bred by Robert Key of Leechburg, Pennsylvania.
The locally owned El Diablo Hall made his sophomore debut in the second division and went gate-to-wire in a matching 1:58.2 mile, with similar fractions of :28.4, :59.2 and 1:28.1 along the way. Nick Steward drove the Windsong Espoir-El Mistress Chesea gelding, who paid $3.90 to win as the 4-5 favourite. Boli (James MacDonald), the 6-5 second choice, broke stride when moving from the pocket past the third quarter panel leaving El Diablo Hall home free. Namesmuscle (Paul MacKenzie) and the from-last Concept (Taylor Burgess) followed over four lengths behind in second and third, respectively.
El Diablo Hall was the runner-up in last year’s Grassroots Championship and has finished no worse than second in all 11 of his career starts. He is trained by Tony Montini and owned by Dale Hunter of London, Ont. along with Albina Montini of Acton, Ont., Paul Giammichele of Burlington, Ont. and Rick Podolinsky of Alvinston, Ont.
The third division was won by the season-debuting 8-1 longshot Winning Wizard, who managed to collar the drifting even-money favourite at the wire in 1:57.1 with Paul MacDonell in the sulky. Parked through the :28-second opening quarter, favourite Hemi Seelster (Steve Byron) was able to tuck into the pocket spot and followed Tarot (Jody Jamieson) past the half in :57.4 before launching his attack near the 1:27.2 third quarter mark. Hemi Seelster overtook Tarot around the final turn, but barred out across the track in the stretch, ultimately costing him the win as Winning Wizard closed at the inside off a three-hole trip to prevail by a quarter-length. Alacrity (Eddie Green) rounded out the top three finishers six lengths behind.
Winning Wizard returned $18.50 to his backers at the betting windows. Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman trains the Kadabra-Victory My Way gelding, who earned his first victory in the OSS program, for Australian owner Neven Botica. The winning time established a new track record for three-year-old gelding trotters.
Rubber Duck later made his OSS debut a winning one for trainer Julie Walker and owners Blair and Erna Corbeil of Beaumont, Alta.
Jayport All Muscle (James MacDonald) was the first off the gate, but Caulfield (Trevor Henry) forged to the front past the early breakers from the outside into a :29.1 first quarter. Caulfield proceeded to the half in 1:00.1 before being collared at the 1:28.4 third quarter mark by Rubber Duck, who journeyed first over from third to prevail by one and three-quarter lengths in 1:57.3, coming within a one-fifth of a second of his lifetime mark taken this past Friday over Mohawk Racetrack. Sylvain Filion was aboard the Muscle Mass-Ringside Rosie colt for his back-to-back victories. The 4-5 favourite paid $3.80 to win. Last year’s Super Final runner-up Platoon Seelster (Ryan Holliday) circled three-wide off the winner’s cover to finish second in his season’s debut while Jayport All Muscle finished third.
In regular racing action, the seven-year-old chestnut mare Winkys Pride and driver Scott Coulter were wire-to-wire winners in an $8,300 Preferred 3 Trot, prevailing over Thor Seelster (Trevor Henry) and Torches Angel (Bruce Richardson) in 1:59.1 for trainer/owner Robert Hummel of Puslinch, Ont.