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Is there an Upper Canada Oscar waiting for Oscar Oscar?

May 21, 2009

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What do you do if you’ve already shelled out significant money to keep 12 horses eligible to the year’s richest race for Ontario-sired horses, post time is looming, and your best hopefuls seem only bit players in the shadow of a colt who didn’t seem worth nominating a few months ago?

If you’re Jeff Brooks of Boca Raton, Fla., you don’t think twice about adding more money to the table--$30,000(C) to be precise. Having slipped in the back door, Brooks and his hot-horse Oscar Oscar will look to upstage all comers in Saturday’s $480,000(C) Upper Canada Cup at Georgian Downs.

Brooks’ supplemental entry surprised no one in winning his Cup elimination in a handy 1:53.3 for Mark MacDonald, earning back $12,500 of Georgian Downs’ money with ease. It was his sixth win in seven starts, sending the slick-gaited youngster’s earnings over $75,000. 

Bred by slot machine game inventor Mike Timpano at Phelpston, just 20 minutes northwest of Barrie, Oscar Oscar is remarkably the only one of the nine UCC finalists who didn’t race at two. The Western Terror 3 year old kicked off his career this winter in New Jersey at the Meadowlands before being shipped north in late March to trainer Tracy Brainard. 

Brainard burst onto the Ontario scene last December when she and boyfriend Josh Marks shipped in with 20 horses following a record-setting season at Vernon Downs in her native New York State.

The petite 32 year old continues to pack a powerful punch on this side of the border, currently posting a .340 training average, with over $720,000 in earnings. A lifetime horse person, Brainard is the daughter of the late Denny Brainard. The family plied their trade at Pompano Park for years, regularly making the four-hour ship from their De Leon Springs home.

These days Brainard’s 32-horse stable is based at the Ideal Training Centre near Acton and consists largely of horses for fellow Floridian Brooks’ Bulletproof Enterprises. Just lately her burgeoning barn has added the services of an able second trainer in Joe Frasure, also from Florida. The amiable Frasure’s large frame and patriotic colours will be on the job Saturday, warming up both Oscar Oscar and the surprising Waffles and Cream. 

Oscar Oscar will be out to justify his star billing against eight rugged opponents who won’t bow easily. But driver MacDonald has confidence in the talented colt with the distinctive elongated white forehead star.

“He just has a lot of raw speed,” MacDonald says. “He can leave or he can come off a helmet quick. He can race in front or he can go first over. He’s still green, but he’s figuring it out.”

It will be a night of theater at Georgian Downs on Saturday as the Innisfil track regales spectators with early 1800s-costumed staff, ostentatious opening ceremonies, bountiful promotions and elaborate post parades.  The historic Upper Canada Cup could just provide the perfect setting for an Academy Award performance by Oscar Oscar. (Georgian Downs)

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