Muscle Matters 1:57.3 winner in Ontario Challenge
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Muscle Matters picked the perfect time to figure out how to be a racehorse, battling to a half-length victory in the $150,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Mid-Summer Challenge at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday evening.
Heading into the contest trainer Benoit Baillargeon was not sure if the long-legged son of Muscle Mass had truly grasped the ins and outs of the racing game, but the two-year-old trotting colt delivered a gritty effort on Monday to earn his second lifetime win.
Starting from post 4 with Mario Baillargeon in the race bike, Muscle Matters landed fourth in the early going and then swung to the outside heading for the halfway marker. Parked on the outside all the way around the final turn, Muscle Matters dug in through the stretch to hang on for the 1:57.3 victory over hard closing favorite See The Wind and Jitterbug.
"He doesn't mind being on the outside,” said driver Mario Baillargeon from the winner's circle. "He's just a really nice colt.”
Benoit Baillargeon shares ownership of Muscle Matters with Nunzio Vena, Santo Vena and Richard Thompson. Through three starts the colt, a $17,000 purchase from the 2012 Canadian Yearling Sale, has posted two wins and one fourth for earnings of $98,800.
Driver Paul MacDonell piloted the winners of both the two-year-old trotting filly Challenge and Consolation, with Challenge winner Riveting Rosie clocking the fastest mile of the four Ontario Sires Stakes events.
Starting from post 5 Riveting Rosie sat third on the rail through the opening stages of the race behind Marcella Hall and Danica Hall. When division point leader Marcella Hall seemed to run out of gas heading into the backstretch, first Danica Hall then Riveting Rosie circled around her, but MacDonell did not send his charge after the lead until the fillies swung off the final turn. As she gained a clear view of the finishing wire Riveting Rosie shifted into another gear and powered away from the field to a two and three-quarter length win in 1:57.2.
Miss Aultsville came on to be second and Danica Hall trotted into third.
"She acts like a filly that just gets better with every start,” said MacDonell. "She's developing smarts, which is good, and she just seems to trot smoother at a higher speed.”
MacDonell engineered the win for trainer John Bax and his partners Don Allensen, J and T Stable, and John Hayes. Through three starts the Muscle Mass daughter — also a $17,000 purchase, but from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale — has two wins and one second for earnings of $106,500.
In the trotting filly consolation, MacDonell guided Margie to her first lifetime victory for trainer Michael Keeling and owners Paul Fontaine of Woonsocket, RI, Jim Winske of Marlborough, MA, Michael Winters of Saratoga Springs, NY and George Ducharme of Norfolk, MA.
The fan favourites led for much of the race before cruising under the wire one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Mayberry and Toughs Legacy in 1:57.4. Angus Hall daughter Margie now boasts one win, one second and one third in her first three starts. Like the Challenge winners, the filly was a $17,000 investment at last fall's Harrisburg yearling sale.
The other consolation trophy went home with trainer Tom Durand of Puslinch and his partner Allan Smith of Oakville after Dontcheatonmenow rocketed from seventh to first through the final quarter to capture the $50,000 trotting colt event.
A $30,000 purchase from the Harrisburg sale, Dontcheatonmenow reeled in Valorscross and SAS Warkentin to post the 1:57.4 win. Milton resident Randy Waples piloted the Deweycheatumnhowe colt to his first lifetime victory.
The two-year-old trotting fillies make their fourth Gold Series start at Rideau Carleton Raceway on Aug. 15, while the two-year-old trotting colts head to Georgian Downs on Aug. 17. Next up at Mohawk Racetrack are the two-year-old trotting colt Grassroots competitors, battling in their fourth event on Thursday, Aug. 8. (Ontario Sires Stakes)