Foiled Again repeats in Molson Pace in 1:51.3
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Foiled Again successfully defended his title in the Molson Pace and provided trainer Ron Burke with his third straight victory in Western Fair District's $300,000 signature race during an action-packed Friday night of harness racing in London, Ont.
It was a six-horse cavalry charge off the gate with elimination winner Aracache Hanover and Doug McNair out-sprinting the rest of the eight-horse field to establish the lead from post seven. He reached the opening quarter in :26.3. Meanwhile, post five starter Razzle Dazzle and John Campbell were parked out with Foiled Again and Yannick Gingras second over after leaving from post six.
Aracache Hanover led the field to the half in :55.3 and three-quarters in 1:23.1 with Razzle Dazzle applying heavy pressure on the outside. Razzle Dazzle eventually wore down the pacesetter around the final turn leaving Foiled Again pursuing him into the stretch and elimination winner Clear Vision, driven by Matt Kakaley, rallying wide from third over.
Foiled Again surged ahead down the lane with a :28.1 final frame and held off his stablemate Clear Vision by a head for the 1:51.3 score, matching his winning time in the event last year. Razzle Dazzle finished over a length behind in third. The Jason Bartlett-driven Atochia, another Burke trainee, was fourth off a pocket trip and Aracache Hanover ended up fifth.
"I like half-mile tracks, that's where I started out," commented Gingras after his second straight Molson Pace triumph with Foiled Again. "It's always a pleasure to come back here. He's a great horse and anybody can do well with him. He's a pleasure to drive. And he's eight now, so all these wins are even more special now because I know the end is definitely closer than the start, but he shows up every week and puts forth some big efforts, like tonight. He was parked every single step and not many horses can overcome that. He's just a great horse."
Foiled Again, who was a close second to Aracache Hanover after a second over trip in his elimination last week, was the 6-5 favourite and paid $4.10 to win.
Burke joins Robert McIntosh, Rick Fife and William Robinson as the conditioners with the most wins in the history of the Molson Pace. However, Burke is the only trainer to win three consecutive editions. He also won the 2011 event with Foiled Again and the 2010 edition with Won The West.
Foiled Again is the first horse to score back-to-back wins in the Molson Pace since Broussard did it in 1992 and 1993. Jambo Dancer holds the record for most wins having won the race three years in a row from 1976 to 1978.
The Dragon Again-In A Safe Place gelding, a career winner of 62 races and $3,805,856 in purse earnings, is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and JJK Stables LLC. The reigning Older Pacing Horse of the Year has begun his eight-year-old season with a record reading 4-3-2 in nine starts while banking $383,850.
Friday’s undercard was highlighted by a 1:56.3 track record performance from three-year-old trotting colt Il Mago ($7) in the first $130,000 Ontario Sires Stake Gold Final of the 2012 season.
With Trevor Ritchie in the bike, second choice Il Mago took control of the eight-horse field from the inside post position off the gate while even-money favourite Cold Certified and Jason Brewer advanced into the gapping two-hole after Ballykeel Ulysses broke stride in second. Midfield Magic also jumped it off early behind the gate.
Il Mago carved out fractions of :28.1 and :58.2 before his fellow elimination winner Cold Certified was flushed out of the pocket and applied pressure to the leader. However, Il Mago held him at bay as he raced by three-quarters in 1:27.2 and then drew away down the lane for the four length victory. Il Mago lowered the 1:57.4 track record for three-year-old male trotters, which was set last week in the OSS Gold elimination round by Cold Certified. Keystone Orion and Dave Boughton came on for third.
"Well, obviously drawing the rail was key,” noted Ritchie when asked about the winning trip. "He got out of there good and behaved himself around the first turn. Once everybody got tucked away and I got a little bit of a breather I was pretty happy with his performance. He’s a tryer. He likes to go forward and that’s 80 per cent of the battle.”
The Kadabra-Northern Style colt hangs his harness in the Rod Boyd barn. The $255,710 career winner is owned by Chris Alexander Stables Inc. of Aurora, Ont. and New Jersey’s Mark Harder. Il Mago earned his second stakes trophy of his career while competing in the OSS program.
"It’s a very competitive program and there’s a lot of money on the table,” said Ritchie. "Money brings good horses and makes it a good option.”
Earlier in the night, the Molson Pace’s winningest driver and 2012 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Dave Wall was honoured with a special winner’s circle presentation following the second race named in his honour. The front-striding No Waffling ($18) and driver Mike Horner won the Dave Wall Canadian Hall Of Fame Pace by two and a quarter lengths in 1:58.4 for trainer Mark Horner and owners R A W Equine Inc. of Burlington, Ont. and Sure Gain Stable of Mitchell, Ont.
The presentation was not the only time Wall made an appearance in the winner’s circle during the card. The local legend returned after guiding David Lemon's sophomore filly Daylon Miracle ($2.20) to her fifth career win in as many starts in the $57,400 City Of London Series final for female trotters. The Pegasus Spur sister to O'Brien Award winner Daylon Magician settled for a two-hole trip after an early duel with the Trevor Henry-driven Cynthia Loo and then rallied three-wide around the final turn to get up for the three-quarter length score in 1:59.1. First over Real Housewife and Paul MacKenzie finished third between the top two.
In other City Of London Series action, second choice P C Firecracker ($10.30) hauled down the popular pacesetter, Hey Aj and Henry, to win the $53,800 final for male trotters by half a length in a career-best time of 2:00.2. Curtis Clements drove the near perfect Amigo Hall gelding for Peter and Amy Clements of Dobbinton, Ont. Unraced at two, P C Firecracker has won seven of his eight sophomore starts, all at the London oval.
Third choice Sonic Breeze ($9.40) completed a sweep of the female pacing division of the series after rallying three-wide off second over cover into the stretch and edging out the popular first over attacker, Albanian Era and McNair, for the career-best 1:55.3 three-quarter length victory. The four-year-old Mach Three mare is trained by William Kirkpatrick and owned by Michigan’s Pamela Loomis.
The Doug McNair-driven Carsons Cracker, a son of 2008 Molson Pace champion Eagle Luck, moved out and around the leading Modern Xhibit, driven by Alex Lilley, and held off stablemate Special Session and Gingras to win the $62,200 series final for male pacers in a life's-best 1:54. Gregg McNair trains the three-year-old gelding for owner-breeder W. David Carson of Listowel, Ont. (Standardbred Canada)