"He impreses me every time I sit behind him, I can't ask any more than what he does. He's very efficient. I love this horse; he's very easy to drive and that makes my job a lot easier.”
That was driver Sylvain Filion praising Harper Blue Chip moments after their victory in the second of three $70,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold divisions for three-year-old trotting colts on Thursday night at Rideau Carleton Raceway, the home track for Harper's ownership group and trainer Mark Steacy. In fact it was at Rideau where Harper Blue Chip made his first start in June of last year.
The colt earned his victory this night, over a track rated sloppy from heavy rains during the afternoon at the Ottawa oval. He was parked until after the opening quarter, reached in :27.4 by Ole Jack Magic, and took over command before the :58 half. Down the backside Muscle Matters came up to challenge and that pair reached the three-quarters in 1:26.3. Harper Blue Chip repelled that challenger and opened up down the lane to win by more than four lengths in 1:56.1. Muscle Matters took second while Sheer Flex was third.
It was the fourth win in nine starts, and second straight Gold victory, for the son of Majestic Son owned by Landmark 6 Racing Stable of Kingston, David McDonald of Cornwall, David Reid of Glenburnie and George Judson of Athens, Ontario.
The first Gold test also found Filion posing in the winner's circle. It was Verdi and Steve Byron first off the gate and they hit the opening quarter in :29.3 and the half in a sedate 1:02.2. Entranced passed the leader before the three-quarters in 1:31.1 but he was quickly passed by Mr Lover and Filion who pulled away in the stretch to win in 2:00.1. Lucky Mass closed well to get second while Verdi held for third.
Filion's father, Yves, trains the winner, a son of Deweycheatumnhowe for owner/breeder Ecuries Belanger of Laval, Quebec. It was Mr Lover's first win in four tries this year. Yves had also trained Mr Lover's dam, Norway No Day, a winner of $337,000 in her career.
The third and final Gold division saw heavy favourite Maximuscle make a break leaving. Meanwhile Jack Litten and Doug McNair hit the quarter in :28.3 and the half in :58.4 where he had company in the form of Warrawee Promesse on the outside. That colt had a slight lead past the 1:27 three-quarters and held off Massive Talent to win in 1:57.1. Jack Litten was right there for third.
Trainer Wayne Henry was up behind the winner, a son of Windsong Espoir he co-owns with Fred Brayford of Alliston, Ontario. Warrawee Promesse now has five wins in nine attempts. Tonight's effort was his fifth consecutive win.
The first of three $18,000 Grassroots events for three-year-old trotting colts saw Tyrone Haji control the tempo for Trevor Henry through splits of :28.3, :59.3, 1:29.3 and hold on to win in 1:59.3 over Massacaia and American Superman. Bob McIntosh trains and co-owns the winner with breeder Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, Ontario. A gelded son of Kadabra, Tyrone Haji was recording his third win in a dozen starts this year.
"He's been a lot of first up trips, if I could get to the front earlier he'd be one of the best,” noted Henry afterwards.
The second Grassroots test saw favorite Totally Ripped gain control well before the :57.3 half. Jody Jamieson had Justcallmeronald on the move before the 1:26.3 three-quarters and that colt and Totally Ripped raced as a team through the stretch with Justcallmeronald getting up for the win in 1:57.2. Windsun Cobra took third.
Tony O'Sullivan trains the winner, a son of Muscle Mass owned by Patrick Ryan of London, Ontario.
"He was a little tired at the wire. His former trainer was here telling me how to drive him so that helped,” said Jamieson of the colt's former conditioner and Rideau regular Robert Robinson.
Jamieson also captured the final Grassroots event of the evening, using a three wide move on the final turn with Massive Pockets to win by open lengths in 1:57.3 and defeat Stonebridge Rich and Kremlin. Owned by breeder MT Pockets Stables of Florida and trained by Chantal Mitchell, the son of Muscle Mass was recording his second win in 11 tries.
This was Rideau Carleton's turn to celebrate the OSS's 40th anniversary and the trotting colts put on a good display of the talent in the Program for the fans.
The next Gold event for this group goes postward on September 22 while the Grassroots boys will hook up on September 1. Both events are at Mohawk. (Ontario Sires Stakes)