Royalty For Life established himself as the continent's best 3-year-old trotter with a stakes record-tying wire-to-wire performance in the $686,000 Canadian Trotting Classic on Saturday at Mohawk.
With Brian Sears driving, the George Ducharme-trainee equalled the 1:52.2 stakes mark, held by Market Share (2012), Lucky Chucky (2010) and Majestic Son (2006).
Early on, Corky, with Dave Miller, gunned to the front, but Royalty For Life then rushed to the lead after clocking the opening panel in :27.1. Wheeling N Dealin got away third. As the tempo-setter marched past the midway point in :56.1, Punxsutawney advanced first-up from fourth, but was unable to catch the leader. When the field of 10 entered the final turn, Royalty For Life started to pulled away from the pack, posting a three-quarter time of 1:23.4.
In the stretch, it became a clear battle for second as Royalty For Life was under wraps, scoring by 2 1/4 lengths. Your So Vain found some late speed to get up for second and the 89-1 longshot, All Laid Out rallied for third.
"I think the track was a little bit deeper last week and George said that he had a rough week, but he overcame it and was really on his game tonight,” said Sears. "He's a beautiful horse and he just covers the ground so easily and you just call on him and he's there for you."
Royalty For Life's conditioner echoes Sears' sentiments.
"He just wants to be a good horse. He just wants to win all the time. He's a good feeling horse and he just has that desire in him to win,” said Ducharme."This is something that you dream about when you're a kid getting into the sport and this is a dream come true right now for me."
The 3-year-old son of RC Royalty-Bourbon N Grits has won six races in 11 seasonal starts. The 13-time career winner now boasts career earnings of $1,560,231 for owners Alfred Ross, who also bred the bay, Raymond Campbell and Paul Fontaine.
Royalty For Life becomes the seventh Hambletonian winner in the last 13 years to win the Canadian Trotting Classic. He joins Yankee Paco (2000), Windsongs Legacy (2004), Donato Hanover (2007), Deweycheatumnhowe (2008), Muscle Hill (2009) and Market Share (2012).
Despite a second-place finish, Randy Waples was content with Your So Vain's performance.
"It didn't work out quite as good as I wanted,” Waples said. "The other horse (Royalty For Life) got away on me. I couldn't reel him in and had too much ground to make up. I can't take anything away from my horse, he's an excellent horse and was all trot at the end of the mile."
Royalty For Life, who earned $343,000 for the victory, returned $4.30, $2.70 and $2.30, combining with Your So Vain ($3.60, $2.30) for a $14.70 (6-4) exactor. A 6-4-9 (All Laid Out, $17.90) $1 triactor was worth $ 165.35, while a $1 Superfecta [6-4-9-1 (Wheeling N Dealin)] paid $1,779.35. (WEG)