Harper Blue Chip made a triumphant return to the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) on Thursday night at Mohawk as he won the first of three $70,000 Gold divisions handily for Sylvain Filion. It marked the 3-year-old trotting colt's first 2014 appearance in the OSS and his first start since finishing third in the prestigious Hambletonian on Aug. 2.
Moonlight Espoir hit the opening quarter first in :28.1 but was covered up by heavy favorite Harper Blue Chip, who was parked from the start, well before the :57 half. Up to challenge at the 1:26.4 three-quarters was Keystone Trevor, but that colt couldn't catch the leader who cruised to the finish line in 1:56.1. Ole Jack Magic, last in the early going, closed well to edge out Keystone Trevor for second.
Mark Steacy trains the winner, a son of his former champion Majestic Son, for owners Landmark 6 Racing Stable, David McDonald, David Reid and George Judson, all of Ontario. It marked the third win in eight tries this year for Harper Blue Chip and upped his 2014 bankroll to $298,000. Lifetime he's just shy of the half million mark in earnings.
The second division saw Mr Lover on top early to hit the opening marker in :28.1. PL Hercules took over and was settled on top by the :57 half. Filion popped out of the pocket briefly with Mr Lover but P L Hercules wasn't going to let him go by so he tucked back in.
PL Hercules, with Doug McNair catch driving, hit the three-quarters in 1:26.2 and down the lane drifted out quite a bit but managed to hold off a late charging Windsun Revenge to narrowly win in 1:56. In the blanket finish for third it was a dead heat between Verdi and Jitterbug.
Another son of Majestic Son, PL Hercules was recording his third straight win for owner/ breeder Prince Lee Acres of Uxbridge, Ontario and trainer Matt Dupuis. PL Hercules is the first foal from a daughter of $543,000 winner Corinas Mission, a winner of the OSS Super Final as a three-year-old in 2002.
In the third, final and fastest division three colts miscued behind the gate leaving the remaining five colts on their own early. Maximuscle hit the first quarter in :28 and the half in a sedate :58 for Jody Jamieson. Mario Baillargeon then pulled favorite Muscle Matters out from second and was neck to neck with the leader at the 1:26 third panel. That pair battled through a thrilling stretch drive with a determined Maximuscle holding on in 1:54.3.
Muscle Matters had to be content with second once again – he's finished in that spot in all four of his starts to date this year. See The Wind was third.
It marked the first start in Ontario this year for Maximuscle, a son of Angus Hall bred and owned by Ecurie Provoquante of Mirabel, Quebec and trained by Eric Valiquette. The colt, a half-brother to $379,000 winner Puissant, has yet to finish off the board this year with six wins and one second and one third in eight starts.
The next Gold event scheduled for this group is slated for September 22 back at Mohawk. (Ontario Sires Stakes)