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St Lads Popcorn takes OSS Gold

September 20, 2008

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Ontario Sires Stakes sweetheart St Lads Popcorn kept a firm hold on her Gold Final crown with an impressive 1:52.3 victory in Friday’s $120,000 battle at Mohawk Racetrack.

After Shacked Up brought the filly’s win streak to a halt in last week’s elimination round, even trainer Jack Darling wondered if St Lads Popcorn could hold onto the Gold Final mantle she had first claimed at Flamboro Downs on July 18. Mohawk Racetrack fans clearly had their doubts, sending Shacked Up off as the prohibitive favourite with St Lads Popcorn a distant second choice.

Fortunately, no one shared their concerns with St Lads Popcorn. Starting from Post 4 with regular reinsman Jason Brewer in the race bike, St Lads Popcorn floated off the starting gate into fourth spot on the rail as Shellace catapulted away from Post 10 to a :27.2 opening quarter. Once Shellace had settled onto the front end Brewer sent St Lads Popcorn after the lead and the reigning Gold Final champ was comfortably ensconced in her customary location well before the :56.2 half.

Driver Steve Condren had Shacked Up on the move before the half and had closed the gap between his filly and St Lads Popcorn to just one and a quarter lengths by the 1:25 three-quarters. As the duo straightened out for the drive to the wire they were separated by a scant quarter length and it seemed Mohawk fans had been right, but Brewer was just shifting his filly into gear.

Sprinting down the stretch, St Lads Popcorn opened up a full length on the favourite, reaching the wire in a personal best 1:52.3 and earning her third straight Gold Final trophy. Shacked Up settled for second, her first loss in four starts, and her stablemate in the Richard “Nifty” Norman barn, Fashion Week, finished a fast closing third, three lengths behind the battling leaders.

In scoring her sixth win in eight starts, St Lads Popcorn returned a surprising $16.30 to win, $3.90 to place and $2.60 to show. Shacked Up paid just $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show, while Fashion Week’s third-place effort was worth $4.30 to her fans. The exactor returned $34.20, the triactor $147.80, and adding fourth-place finisher Shellace into the mix on a superfecta ticket earned you $271.65.

The win pushed St Lads Popcorn’s earnings to $296,323 and boosted her Gold Series point tally to an impressive 233, a full 146 points ahead of second place point earner Northern Duchess.

Cambridge resident Jack Darling owns and trains St Lads Popcorn, whose pedigree runs deep with Ontario Sires Stakes stars trained by the veteran horseman. Her sire is $437,235 winner Twin B Champ, who was undefeated in Ontario Sires Stakes action through two seasons under Darling’s tutelage, and her unraced dam Hot Butter is sired by former Darling stand out Northern Luck, a winner of $907,974.

The talented youngster will attempt to defend her Gold Final title for a third time when the two-year-old pacing fillies return to Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 29 for the start of their second last Gold Series event.

The rest of the weekend also features Ontario Sires Stakes excitement at the Campbellville oval. On Saturday evening the three-year-old pacing fillies will square off in their $120,000 Gold Final and $20,000 Gold Consolation, while the two-year-old pacing colts battle in Gold Elimination action. On Sunday, the three-year-old trotting colts step into the spotlight with a pair of Gold Eliminations. Post time for both programs is 7:30 pm. (OSS)

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