Sixteen sophomore pacing colts and geldings, including seven North America Cup eligibles, converged at Woodbine Saturday night to represent their connections in The Diplomat Stakes elims.
In the first elim, the Dr. Ian Moore-trained Eighteen (Sylvain Filion) left the gate with some early speed and held the lead through the turn, clocking a :27.1 opening quarter. Big Time Rocks (Scott Zeron) came first-over from fourth and emerged with a lead at the half in :56.1.
Into the turn, Lifeoftheoldboy (Phil Hudon) tired to apply pressure to Big Time Rocks, but was unsuccessful as they hit the three-quarter marker in 1:24.4. Into the stretch, Eighteen pulled from the pocket and regained the lead, winning the $25,000 tilt in 1:52.1. Big Time Rocks faded to second and Mach It Big (Paul MacDonell) was third.
Dr. Moore made sure his sophomore pupil was prepared for Saturday night’s dash.
“I though he might be a little bit short, that’s why I raced him on Monday. I don’t like coming back with him in five days, but he really hadn’t had any fast work since he left Florida. He qualified down there April 8,” said the conditioner. “I thought he would be better tonight and he was a little better, he left good so we are very pleased.”
Eighteen was one of four Pepsi North America Cup eligibles in the first elim who are using The Diplomat Stakes as a stepping stone.
“It’s good for the horse. He didn’t win anything last year and I think it is going to help his confidence quite a bit too," said Dr. Moore. "He was really solid tonight. He put in a couple of steps the other night and we made a few equipment adjustments, so hopefully we’ll keep rolling on.”
The bay colt paid $3.60 to win as the public’s choice.
The son of Cam's Card Shark-Dream Of Mimi is owned by Moore, R G McGroup Ltd. of Bathurst, New Brunswick and Serge Savard of Saint-Bruno, Que.
Eighteen is now two-for-two in his 2011 campaign with $39,040 in lifetime earnings.
In the second elim, Atlantic Ball (Luc Ouellette) took the field to the first turn, but was surpassed by Up The Credit (Paul MacDonell) at the quarter pole in :27.1. His lead was short lived as Rick Zeron took The Platinum Guy to the front from third, hitting the half in :55. Into the final turn, Up The Credit pulled from the pocket applying pressure to the leader. The duo battled for the lead around the turn as
they hit the three-quarter pole in 1:23.3.
Coming into the stretch, Up The Credit opened up, but from the far outside Fantaddy (Scott Zeron) found some late speed, getting up to beat the even-money favorite by a nose in 1:51.2. Up The Credit was second and Rockabillie finished third.
“I think he raced super,” said O’Sullivan. “He is getting better and better every week. It’s great.”
The conditioner is confident going into the final, but hopes his sophomore gelding minds his manners.
“I feel good. I think he’s high, high speed,” said the Cambridge resident. “The issue is he’s pretty highly strung and he needs to learn how to relax, but the way Scotty is driving him is teaching him that. I don’t think there is anything in here that he can’t go with, that’s for sure.”
Fantaddy paid $9.90 to win as the third choice. The son of Bettor's Delight-Lifetime Member picked up his third win in seven career outings, increasing his bankroll to $36,110 for owner John Fielding of Toronto.
Six Pepsi North America Cup eligibles have advanced to the final. The top five finishers from each of Saturday’s eliminations will return on May 14 to contest the $80,000 final.
Here is a look at how the sophomore pacers will line up behind the gate
for The Diplomat Stakes final:
1. Grand Master
2. Eighteen (NAC)
4. Mach It Big
5. Up The Credit (NAC)
6. Tribute To Gear
7. Bettors Green (NAC)
8. Rockabillie (NAC)
9. Big Time Rocks (NAC)
10. Dapper Denzil (NAC)
AE1. Doin Time Together (NAC)