Soph pacers tangle in four Burlington divisions
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However, unlike last year, when Cup winner Somebeachsomewhere made his seasonal debut in the Burlington, en route to a record-setting year which culminated in Horse of the Year honours in Canada and the United States, there appears no single standout in the march to this year\'s Cup.
The first division went to Carnivore and driver Paul MacDonell, who found a hole in mid-stretch and drove through on the inside to collar heavily-favored Art Colony and driver John Campbell by a neck, in 1:51.3.
It was the first win in four 2009 outings for the Jack Darling trained and owned son of Real Desire. Last week, he finished second to Art Colony after setting some early fractions. Saturday night, Carnivore took the field to the first quarter in :27.2, before relinquishing the lead to Johnny Z and dropping back to fourth.
Art Colony, who finished second in the Governor\'s Cup, Breeders Crown elim and final last year, came calling after a half was reached in :56.1 and paced with Johnny Z around the far turn and into the stretch.
The 1-5 choice inched ahead and appeared to be on his way to victory before a late, inside burst by Carnivore swallowed him up. Manhattan Blue Chip was third.
\"This colt seems to race better if he\'s in the hunt a little bit,\" said MacDonell, who of course was the regular pilot of Somebeachsomewhere. \"He proved that last week when a good second to Art Colony. I thought I\'d try that again and it worked out tonight. He showed last year he was one of the up and coming colts. He\'s come along and matured somewhat and he\'s ready to go on. I think anytime you can get a horse into a winning frame of mind, it works good for their psyche.\"
Carnivore, who paid $15.70 to win, racked up six wins in 10 starts, earning $291,439 last year.
In the second division, Keep It Real, owned by Wayne Whebby of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, kept his perfect record intact, with a hard-fought one-quarter length win over Lisagain in a sparkling 1:50.2
Driven by Steve Condren for trainer Joey Shea, Keep It Real, a Real Artist colt, came first over to challenge the leader Schoolkids in mid-stretch, while favoured Well Said was making a move on the rail. But Keep It Real, the 9-5 second choice, was able to maintain his margin, holding a closing Lisagain safe at the wire. Schoolkids wound up third, while even-money Well Said, the 2008 Breeders Crown champion, was fourth.
\"You can\'t even say he got an easy trip,\" said Condren. \"He went a tough, tough trip. He showed he\'s probably going to be a player this year, which is very nice for his connections. He showed me what he can do in his last start, very game through the lane.
\"He beat some nice horses tonight. He pretty well had what he wanted tonight. He must have come the back half in 53 (seconds) and a piece. That\'s a big, first-over journey with a pretty good mush on the end of it. He showed his grit tonight, too. I hope he draws well next week (in the Cup elims) and everything goes good.\"
In 2006, owner Whebby raced the Cup favourite, Feelin Friskie, but had to settle for second money behind winner Total Truth.
It was the sixth win for Keep It Real and his first crack at stakes company, after not racing as a 2 year old.
Favored Chasin Racin and driver John Campbell set all the fractions, taking the field to the quarter in 26.4 and the half in 55.1, as Ideal Danny enjoyed an \"ideal\" pocket trip.
Pierce moved the son of Western Ideal out to challenge the pacesetter off the far turn as the three-quarters was reached in 1:23.3, before Ideal Danny began to inch away. Meanwhile, Bay Of Sharks, just behind the leaders, was feverishly looking for a seam, which he found late in the lane to mount a last second challenge between the leaders. Chasin Racin wound up third.
\"(Trainer) Erv (Miller) sent word down that the colt\'s better if you get him into the race early,\" explained Pierce. \"It so happened we wound up following the best horse in the race. He took us right to the head of the stretch and we tipped on his back. This colt had plenty of pace. I was impressed--a big effort.\"
It was the second win in six starts this year for Ideal Danny, who is owned by D.R. Van Witzenburg of Crest Hill, Ill.
He\'s been knocking heads recently with Dial Or Nodial, one of the top-ranked 3-year-old pacers who wasn\'t at Mohawk for the Burlington, his connections choosing instead to race in the final of the New Jersey Sires Stakes at the Meadowlands, where he finished third to Passmaster Hanover.
The son of No Pan Intended-Double Creme got away second in the early going but then moved to the front just past the opening quarter in :27.1. Once on top, the colt led the field through splits of :55.4 and 1:23.4 before kicking away by a couple of lengths at the top of the stretch.
OK Boromir had a host of challengers coming at him in the late stages, but he was able to hold on for the hard-fought win in 1:51.2. Barn Art came through at the inside to grab the place spot with Nob Hill High finishing a lapped-on third.
\"He’s had some bad luck lately,\" said winning driver Luc Ouellette. \"Last week I got caught in with him in Ottawa and he was blocked at Georgian Downs in another start. Tonight things went better.
\"I had a horse at his bridle there and he got real brave. Then, I turned him lose and he opened up a bit but got a little lonely out on the lead. That’s why you saw me driving on him a little bit at the finish.\"
The win was the third in six starts this season for OK Boromir who is co-owned by trainer Frank Baker Jr. along with Wray and Janet Wilson of Thorndale, Ont. The lion’s share of the purse boosted his career earnings to just over $197,000. (WEG)