Major Bay, Threefiftytwo win OSS Golds
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Neither of the favorites in Monday night’s 2-year-old trotting colt Gold Series divisions enjoyed their trip around Grand River Raceway, but Major Bay and Threefiftytwo thoroughly enjoyed all of the Elora oval’s amenities, including the winner’s circle.
In the first $105,600 division fans sent Horse Trader off as their top choice and the colt made an early break that left him 15 lengths behind the field as Major Bay led them to the quarter in :28. Hetalkstoangels took over command heading by the :59.2 half and continued to set the pace by the 1:28.1 three-quarters, but driver Louis-Philippe Roy was biding his time in the pocket and once he gave Major Bay an open lane the colt reeled in the leader to claim the 1:59.2 victory. Hetalkstoangels was one and one-quarter lengths back in second and Babidibou was three lengths back in third. Horse Trader settled for fourth.
"I thought he had a shot, especially with the way he raced last week (Sept. 16). He knows the half-mile so he has no problem with the half-mile, and the trip worked and everything worked out good,” said trainer Ben Baillargeon, who sent the colt out from post 7. “The one horse, he was the big favorite, he made a break too, that Horse Trader, and we ended up getting the job done.”
Major Bay earned his place on the gate in Monday’s Gold event with a 1:56.3 fourth-place effort in the Sept. 16 overnight event at Woodbine Mohawk Park. That outing was the colt’s first for Baillargeon and his first in Ontario. Major Bay’s first six starts, including three wins, came at Hippodrome Trois-Rivieres for owner-trainer Francis Richard.
“He won in 2:04 in Three Rivers, but the big track stepped him up last week,” said Baillargeon. “He’s a little bit left and right, he’s got a little bit of a rubber-neck to him, he’s in and he’s out, but he’s got some go. He’s a very gutsy horse and he has a perfect gait, so you can’t ask for anything more with him because he trots, and that’s all he does, he trots.”
With Monday’s win Major Bay earned 50 points, but he needs a second Gold Series start to be eligible for the Oct. 12 Super Final, and Baillargeon is looking forward to racing the Amigo Hall son in the last regular season event at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Oct. 1.
“He trotted 1:56.3 his first start at Woodbine and he was kind of boxed in there. He wasn’t done in 1:56.4, he was running out of room a little bit, let’s put it this way,” said the trainer. “I’m anxious to race him next week and see what happens.”
In his first seven starts Major Bay had banked $12,525 for owners Ferme Auclair of St. Antoine De Tilly, Ecurie Francis Richard Inc. of Becancour and Jean-Christophe Auclair of Saint-Apollinaire, QC. Monday’s win boosted that total to $65,325.
After the pleasant surprise of Major Bay’s victory, Baillargeon and Roy were looking for the sweep with second division favorite HP Royal Theo, but the reigning William Wellwood Memorial champion skipped offstride heading into the first turn and was 24 lengths behind pacesetter Threefiftytwo when he reached the :29.1 quarter. After his successful start from post 6, Threefiftytwo carried on through a :59.2 half and 1:29.2 three-quarters and held off Your Still Up in the stretch for a three-quarter length victory in 1:59.2. Tuckers Out was well back in third and HP Royal Theo further behind in fifth.
“I was a little worried that Louis (Roy) would try and re-take the lead, and I was worried about it because I knew full well I wouldn’t be able to let him go, because mine, once he gets the front it’s there’s not much letting people go. He’s not quite that manageable yet,” said driver Bob McClure, who was quite happy Roy and HP Royal Theo never reached his wheel. “He’s a really fast horse, but we’re just trying to keep him well-mannered because he’s pretty high strung.”
McClure steers Threefiftytwo for trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination. Monday’s win was the Royalty For Life son’s second in Gold Series action and his 130 points vaulted him over stablemate Port Perry to the top of the division standings heading into the regular season finale. The long-legged Port Perry skipped Monday’s event.
The win was also Threefiftytwo’s second straight — following a 1:55.4 personal best effort in the Sept. 16 race where Major Bay finished third — and McClure is hoping the speedy youngster can maintain his positive momentum through the last regular season Gold event and the Super Final.
“When he’s on his game he can go some real wicked fast miles, it’s just keeping his head on straight,” said McClure. “His problem is not his gait, when he runs he gets throwing his head around, but once he’s off and trotting, he’s perfect, he’s one of the best gaited horses. You couldn’t ask him to be any better gaited, like he’s almost flawless.” (OSS)