Dia Monde wins Ontario Gold at Mohawk
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After finishing third in five straight Gold Series starts, stretching back to September 2015, three-year-old trotting gelding Dia Monde grabbed a win in the last regular season event of his career at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening.
In rein to Milton resident Randy Waples Dia Monde left smartly from Post 6 and landed second behind early leader Dunvegan Don, who led the field to a :27 opening quarter. Waples continued to sit on the rail as fan favourite Bee In Charge took control heading for the :57.1 half, and then tipped Dia Monde into the outer lane heading by the 1:26.1 three-quarters. With a clear look at the finish line, Dia Monde shifted into overdrive and powered under the wire a one and three-quarter length winner in 1:54. Tony Soprano also closed well to be second, leaving Bee In Charge the third-place finisher's spoils.
"He raced good, we're pretty tickled with him finally getting that win," said Puslinch resident June Durand, who shares ownership of Dia Monde with her husband, trainer Tom Durand, and Allan Smith of Oakville, ON.
The victory boosted Dia Monde into fourth spot in the division standings, with 98 points, heading into the Oct. 15 Super Final. Through all 13 of his sophomore starts the son of Deweycheatumnhowe and Lady Bar has three wins, two seconds, five thirds and earnings of $163,612.
Dia Monde is the second foal out of Lady Bar — a half-sister to former Durand trainee Clarice Marie ($313,400) — that Smith and the Durand's have owned, and it was their long familiarity with the family that first drew the partners to Dia Monde.
"We had Littlejack Hanover and he was small, he was a Donato (Hanover), and then when we went to look at this colt he was twice the size, a big, strong colt," recalls June Durand. "And the thing we liked about him is, Looking Hanover ($1,125,136) was the other good horse out of the family and he's a Muscles Yankee and Deweycheatumnhowe is out of Muscles Yankee, so it's kind of going back to that same cross, and he's a big beautiful horse. We paid lots for him, but I think he was worth it."
The gelding was a $70,000 purchase at the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, and Smith says he has repaid their investment in ways that cannot be reflected on a balance sheet.
"We've been fortunate enough we've had some good stakes horses and done well financially, but it's more the fun of winning," said Smith. "Being with Tom and June — all the work they do to pick out the right horses and get them where they do with a small stable — I'm pretty impressed with what they do and I've always supported it and always will."
The partners will be hoping Dia Monde can continue his winning ways into the $250,000 Super Final, where he will face division point leader Muscle Hustle, the winner of the other $105,000 Gold division on Thursday.
Sent off as the fan favourite, and also in rein to Waples, Muscle Hustle took control just after the :28 opening quarter and rolled through a :58.1 half and a 1:26.3 three-quarters without facing a challenge. Muscle Hustle hit the wire one length ahead of Holiday Party and two more up on Will Take Charge in 1:54.1.
"Muscle Hustle, he was awesome, last quarter :27.3, won fairly handy, and everything is good with him," said trainer Per Henriksen of the division point leader. "He's healthy and everything."
Thursday's outing was Muscle Hustle's first in just over a month, he was sidelined with his second bout of sickness this season following a third-place result in the Sept. 3 Simcoe Stakes, but Norwood resident Henriksen expects the colt to be in top shape for next week's finale.
"He didn't race for four weeks, but his race here should make him even better," said the horseman, who conditions the son of Muscle Mass and Crown Laurel for Ecurie Bergh Inc. of Norwood.
In his five Gold Series starts Muscle Hustle logged three wins, one second and one fifth for 180 points, and trotted to an Ontario Sires Stakes record 1:52.2 over the five-eighths mile surface at Georgian Downs. Through 12 starts this season he has tallied seven wins, two seconds and one third for earnings of $239,832.
Henriksen also trains Bee In Charge, who finished third behind Dia Monde, and said the fan favourite tested sick after the race.
"Bee In Charge didn't race as good as I thought he was gonna do, and we scoped him and he had some mucous so he is obviously a little sick," said Henriksen. "We've just got to get him healthy for the Super Final."
Heading into the Super Final off wins aboard both Muscle Hustle and Dia Monde puts Waples in the difficult position of choosing between two horses that appear to be prime shape for the post season.
"They're both really nice horses. I really haven't made up my mind. It'll probably just go by post position, I think that's the way it will go anyways," said Waples. "We'll see what happens, see how they come out of it.
"I was really happy with the pair of them you know. I thought Muscle Hustle was the best in his class as long as things went his way and he was healthy," the reinsman continued. "And Dia Monde, I know that horse can beat anybody out there, but he just hasn't really been putting it all together his last couple, but tonight he really showed up, he put a big, big effort in tonight."
Waples is also the regular reinsman for superstar sophomore pacing filly L A Delight and trotting filly Caprice Hill. Both fillies were victorious in their freshman Super Finals and both head into this year's test undefeated in regular season Gold Series action.
With a total of $2 million up for grabs in eight divisions, Super Final night gets under way at 7:30 pm at Mohawk on Saturday, Oct. 15. (Ontario Sires Stakes)