Christmas arrived early for horseplayers on Saturday (Dec. 23), as Woodbine Racetrack offered a mandatory payout on the Jackpot Hi-5. A total of C$795,367 of new money was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 pool, which joined C$227,101.87 of carryover money that was brought into Saturday.
Reis Star Cross (post nine) and James MacDonald shot through late to score a 16-1 upset in the Hi-5 race. Lights Go Out (post four), the 6-5 favorite, finished second, but two more longshots joined the race winner in the top five to create a big payout.
Horseplayers that correctly selected the order of 9-4-7-6-10 scored a massive return of $247,185.95 for a $1 ticket or $49,437.10 for a 20-cent ticket.
The top five finishers in Saturday’s Jackpot Hi-5 race are listed below.
1st: #9 Reis Star Cross (16-1)
2nd: #4 Lights Go Out (6-5)
3rd: #7 Mischieviousgirls (52-1)
4th: #6 Wildcat Magic (4-1)
5th: #10 Hot Spot Hanover (39-1)
The Jackpot Hi-5 wager requires horseplayers to select the top five finishers in order and features a 20-cent minimum and a 15 percent takeout.
Saturday evening’s card also featured the circuit’s top trotters and pacers in action for a pair of C$34,000 Preferred events.
Easy Lover Hanover went a big trip to score his sixth consecutive victory in the Preferred Pace. The 4-year-old gelding got away fourth with driver Jody Jamieson and was sent first-up at the half. Easy Lover Hanover paced up to the wheel of Nirvana Seelster, who led by a little more than a length at three-quarters in 1:23.4.
In the stretch, Easy Lover Hanover was too much to handle for Nirvana Seelster and the 4-5 favorite powered by to win in 1:50.1. Nirvana Seelster was beat a length and held on for second, while Champagne Phil finished third for a second straight week.
Trained by Ben Wallace, Easy Lover Hanover started his current win streak on November 4 and will finish his 2017 campaign with nine wins in 24 starts. The 4-year-old banked C$215,487 this season to bring his career earnings to C$581,509 for owner Brad Grant.
Saturday’s victory was the 25th overall for Easy Lover Hanover. The Wallace trainee paid $3.80 to win.
Odds On Amethyst captured the C$34,000 Preferred Trot to cap off a wild week. The Pat Hudon trained 6-year-old competed in Monday’s Preferred, but paced the entire mile and was charted with technically being off-stride for the entire mile.
However, things turned around on Wednesday when Odds On Amethyst was named an O’Brien Award finalist and the momentum continued to build with a strong victory Saturday. Trained and driven by Hudon, Odds On Amethyst trotted along fifth throughout the opening three-quarters of the mile and would find clear room in the lane to power by some tired rivals to win in 1:53.1.
Free Willy Hanover rallied from the back to finish second, while Big Rich finished third after cutting the mile with pressure the entire way.
A 6-year-old gelding, Odds On Amethyst has had a banner year in 2017. The Hudon trainee now has 11 wins in 38 starts and has earned C$232,110 for owners William Cripps, Charles Gazzola, Adam Kean and Hudon.
Odds On Amethyst’s strong 2017 earned him an O’Brien Award nomination for Canada’s top older trotter. Saturday’s victory was the 26th overall for the 6-year-old and raised his career earnings to C$477,472. The Hudon trainee paid $18.40 to win.
Live racing resumes Tuesday afternoon at Woodbine. Post time for the matinee is 1 p.m.