Paul MacDonell drove his 5,000th winner as Woodbine opened its 2012 fall meet on Monday night. MacDonell guided Count Speed to victory in a $19,000 conditioned trot in the eighth race on the card. The 3-year-old son of Majestic Son scored a front end victory in 1:56.2.
MacDonell, who won the 2008 O'Brien Award as Canada's top driver, was elated to reach the milestone.
"It feels great to get it,” said the 49 year-old. "Coming into tonight, I thought I had a pretty good chance to get it with the live drives I had. It's just been a thrill and I'm honored to reach the milestone.”
This year MacDonell has visited the winner's circle 89 times thus far, while accumulating over $2.5 million in purses earnings. In 2007 and 2008, MacDonell enjoyed the ride of a lifetime as he partnered with the great Somebeachsomewhere, who achieved international acclaim.
MacDonell notched his first win in 1981 with Dandy J Mite at his hometown track of Kawartha Downs.
Driver Chris Christoforou guided post time favorite Valley Glider to victory in the first race. The freshman son of Yankee Glide broke his maiden in fine form as he got under the wire in 1:59.4 in his $18,000 conditioned event.
The trotting youngster went gate-to-wire through fractions of :29.2, 1:00 and 1:30.2, before scoring a three-quarter length victory. Tanige AS (Roger Mayotte) finished second with Tag Up And Go (Mike Saftic) third.
"It feels great to be back at Woodbine,” Christoforou said following the win. "I enjoy racing at both Mohawk and Woodbine. Both facilities are just fantastic and it's always nice to start off the meet with a win.”
Woodbine Entertainment Group's feature wager of the night, the $50,000 guaranteed pool early Pick-4, had a total pool of $106,473.
Live racing continues on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Rexdale oval. First race post time is 7:10 p.m.The fall/winter meet, will feature some major stakes events including the Breeders Crown championships featuring over $6 million in purses, which is held on October 27 and the $2.4 million Super Finals for the top performers in the Ontario Sires Stakes program on November 10. (WEG)