Trainer Dustin Jones and longtime owner Serge Godin could be in for a big night Saturday when a pair of talented trotting colts step onto the track at Mohawk. Prestidigitator, a 3-year-old son of Kadabra, will look to capture the $1-million Canadian Trotting Classic and Wheeling N Dealin, a 2-year-old son of Cantab Hall, will put his undefeated record on the line when he contests the $462,000 William Wellwood Memorial Trot.
Prestidigitator, the Ontario Sires Stakes divisional leader in earnings ($160,000), sports a record of 4-1-3 from 11 seasonal outings with $230,005 in earnings. Despite a few undesirable finishes in this year's major stakes events, Jones still remains optimistic.
"We made a break in the Canadian Breeders,” he noted. "That was a big disappointment, because we were looking for a finish on the board, and in the Hambletonian we were hoping to finish on the board there. It's not bad, I mean it could have been better, but we still have places to go and he is sound.”
After the colt posted a third-place finish in last week's Trotting Classic elimination and a fourth-place finish in the loneSimcoe Stakes division on Sept. 1, Jones decided it was time to make a change.
"We were a little bit disappointed the last two weeks,” offered the conditioner. "We thought he was a little short at the end. I just got his blood back (Wednesday) and it was good. I think (driver Sylvain Filion) used him a little bit there (in the elimination). He used him twice before the half. It cost him quite a bit to take the front, but he had to move there or else he would have been caught in.
"We made a shoeing change on him this weekend,” he explained. "We are going from flip flops to steel. He wears steel on his flip flops, but it will be his first time without flip flops. He's never had flip flops off since his 2-year-old year. We are trying to do that to maybe gain a couple lengths, hopefully it doesn't backfire.”
Throughout Prestidigitator's sophomore campaign, the horseman has noticed that the eight-time career winner has become more durable on the racetrack. "I think he is getting handier and we have left a bit more to get him into the race because usually you have to be up near the front in the races, but I don't know if we are going to change our style this week or not.”
Jones will leave that up to Filion when he goes to line up behind the gate in post nine with last year's OSS Super Final champ.
When stablemate Wheeling N Dealin goes to post in the William Wellwood Memorial with a perfect six-for-six record, Jones hopes the colt can keep his win streak intact. "He is a pretty complete horse,” said Jones of the rookie with $144,457 in earnings. "I just hope I don't jinx myself. He is just so handy. You can do whatever you want with him.
"He was one of the ones I very seldom had to sit behind because he was going so well,” he added. "I always trained the ones I had problems with.”
Wheeling N Dealin, a $100,000 purchase at the 2011 Harrisburg yearling sale, won his Wellwood elimination in 1:56.4, giving his connections the privilege to select their post for the final. The bay will leave post three for Filion.
Jones hopes he will be able to share intwo picture-perfect moments with Godin, the man behind Ecurie Synergie. He feels grateful to have Godin as an owner and knows loyal owners like him don't come around every day.
"He's had horses with me since 1992,” explained Jones. "I think it comes down from his dad. His dad was very loyal with his trainers. His dad is 80 some years old and he still has horses with some of the trainers he had years ago. I think that's a family trait. When they like you, they are very loyal, but you have to earn their loyalty. It's not easy. You can't take them for granted.”
The $435,000 Peaceful Way Stakes final for freshmen trotting fillies and a pair of Milton Stakes eliminations for pacing fillies and mares will also be contested on the 13-race program. Saturday evening is Fan Appreciation Night at theCampbellville oval and all racing fans will receive a complimentary Mohawk Live Racing program.
Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and racing will begin at 7:10 p.m. with the Trotting Classic set for 9:40 p.m. (WEG)