The Woodbine Mohawk Park racing surface was in peak condition for Saturday’s (Sept. 1) rich card of racing and Ontario’s top 3-year-old pacing colts took full advantage of the speedy surface in a pair of C$95,600 Gold Series divisions.
Charged with warming up the sizeable crowd for the marquee events, the $C600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and C$651,000 Maple Leaf trot, the 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings did not disappoint. Kicking off the stakes action in race three, heavy favorite Backstreet Shadow went to the front soon after the :27.2 quarter posted by Sharp Action Money and never looked back.
Through a :55.3 half and 1:23 three-quarters, Backstreet Shadow maintained a comfortable lead, cruising home a 1-3/4 length winner in a personal best 1:49.2. Levis Day closed hard to be second and Sharp Action Money was third.
"He’s a nice horse and had a good post and a bit of luck," said trainer Richard Moreau. "It all worked out."
Yannick Gingras piloted Backstreet Shadow from post one for Puslinch, Ontario resident Moreau and owners Lindsey and Connie Rankin of Lexington, Mich. The win was Backstreet Shadow’s first in Ontario Sires Stakes action and his fifth in 10 sophomore starts. With one winsecond, one fifth and one seventh, the Shadow Play son finishes the regular season with a total of 82 points and will advance to the Oct. 13 Super Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Unfortunately, as the pacers raced down the stretch in the first division, trailer Ali caught a shoe and fell. While the gelding was unharmed, trainer-driver Patrick Lachance suffered a broken leg and was transported by ambulance to Milton District Hospital.
Six races later, and one race after McWicked captured the Canadian Pacing Derby in 1:49, The Downtown Bus recorded his own personal best in the second Gold division. Like Backstreet Shadow, The Downtown Bus powered to the front just after the :27 quarter and was on cruise control for the remainder of the race. Leading by just over one length through the :55.1 half and 1:22.4 three-quarters, The Downtown Bus and driver Tim Tetrick opened up a three-length lead in the stretch and stopped the teletimer at 1:49.3. Fan favorite St Lads Neptune was second and early leader Yacht Seelster was third.
"I bought his grandmother in foal with his mother from Harrisburg (in 2006), and we really thought we had something special last year at two, and just one issue, maybe some bad management, one issue after another, and his season didn’t amount to anything," said trainer Jeff Gillis. "We got off on the right foot this year and he continues to improve. Having Tetrick doesn’t hurt either. He seems to really get along with him."
Mississauga resident Gillis shares ownership of The Downtown Bus with Ellen Ott of Buffalo, N..Y The partners have watched the son of Mach Three and Slimsplace tally seven wins and C$176,683 in 18 starts this season. Saturday’s victory was the gelding’s second in the Gold Series and gives him a total of 117 points and third-place in the division standings.
With a break of six weeks until the Super Final, Gillis said the Sept. 8 Simcoe Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park is a possibility for The Downtown Bus, as is a bit of time off.
"He’s eligible to the Simcoe next week and I guess off that mile I’ll go ahead and race him in it. I wasn’t in love with the idea of racing Grand Circuit company, but I don’t know, he looks like he deserves a shot," said the horseman. "We’ll probably try and freshen him a little bit and have him clicking on all cylinders for the Super Final."
The top 10 point earners advance to the C$225,000 Super Final on Oct. 13 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. (Mohawk)