The popular Ontario sired 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings delivered romping wins in each of their $25,000 Upper Canada Cup eliminations on Saturday night at Georgian Downs. The elims took on a different note following the scratch of Warrawee Needy from the third division.
Heavy favourite Secretsoftheknight romped to a career-best 1:51.1 victory in the first elimination for the father-son trainer-driver team of Gregg and Doug McNair.
Secretsoftheknight took control from the pylons and had the rest of the six-horse field lined up behind him in post position order through early splits of :27.4 and :56.4. At the half, Astor (Jack Moiseyev) moved first up from fourth, but couldn't get anywhere near the leader, who had opened up four lengths on top as they travelled past three-quarters in 1:24.2. Secretsoftheknights maintained his leading margin into the stretch and sprinted to victory with a :26.4 final frame while pocket-sitter Rebel Jet (Paul MacDonell) followed for second and early trailer Lyons Josephjnr (Paul MacKenzie) came on to show.
Secretsoftheknight paid $2.10 to win as the 1-9 favorite. The Mach-Three Docs Reward colt, last year's Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Championship winner, earned his first victory in four sophomore start for Ontario owners Tony Lawrence of Hanover, Leonard Gamble of Etobicoke, John Newell of Waterloo and Graham Hopkins of Chesley.
The popular Mel Mara was also a wire-to-wire winner in his speedy career-best 1:49.4 elimination for driver Luc Ouellette and trainer Tony Alagna.
Fresh off a second-place finish in the Simpson Stakes at Meadowlands Racetrack, Mel Mara advanced to the lead from third past the :26.4 opening quarter and cleared in front of the grandstand ahead of Huxley (Robert Shepherd). The 1-5 bettors' choice proceeded to the half in :55.1 while Dontmachmeman (Paul MacKenzie) moved first-up from fourth. As Mel Mara led the seven-horse field to three-quarters in 1:22.2, the first-over attacker began to back away. Mel Mara was all alone on the front end entering the stretch and he cruised home for the three and a half length score. Huxley finished second and Fanelli Royal (Scott Zeron) grabbed the show dough off a three-hole trip.
Mel Mara paid $2.60 to win. The two-time winning Lis Mara-M L Revrac colt is owned by Brittany Farms, breeder John Carver, and Riverview Farms.
The third elimination race shaped up much differently than anticipated when O'Brien Award winning colt Warrawee Needy was scratched from his season's debut. Trainer Carl Jamieson told Standardbred Canada that the early morning line favorite, who had just turned in a sizzling 1:49.2 qualifying effort, was scratched due to sickness.
Instead, inside starter Michaels Power inherited the favorite status at post time and was never seriously threatened as he front-stepped his way to a 1:50.4 career-best score for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Casie Coleman.
The even-money led the five-horse field past the opening quarter in :28.1 with Hard To Mach (Doug McNair) following and Machapelo (Jack Moiseyev) settling into third. Thunder Steeler (Luc Ouellette) advanced first-over from fourth as the field moved in front of the grandstand for the first time with Machapelo tipping out behind him into the backstretch. However, Machapelo opted back down to the pylons after the :56 half-mile mark with Thunder Seelster not gaining any ground. Michaels Power reached three-quarters in 1:23.1 and cruised home to a one and three-quarter length victory over the pocket-pulling Hard To Mach. Machapelo finished third.
Michaels Power paid $4 to win. The lightly raced Camluck-Michaels Jackpot gelding is owned and bred by Jeffrey Snyder. He is now two-for-two on the year.
All three UCC eliminations winners remain eligible to the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup later this season.
The $600,000 Upper Canada Cup and a $50,000 consolation will take place next Saturday, May 26. Here is the post position draw:
1. Lyons Josephjnr
2. Fanelli Royal
3. Michaels Power
4. Hard To Mach
6. Rebel Jet
8. Mel Mara
AE1. R Gauwitz Hanover
AE2. Machs Beach Boy