Well-bred yearlings capture Ontario Sires Stakes
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Gray skies parted to reveal a double rainbow and Ontario Sires Stakes hopefuls evolved into Gold Series winners as the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings made their provincial debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday evening.
Capturing the first $52,200 Gold Series division was Lifetime Royalty and driver Doug McNair, who eased away from post 7 and used a late sprint to propel them to a one and one-quarter length victory in 2:01. Knight Angel also closed well over the rain-soaked surface to be second, while pocket-sitter Isnt He An Angel was third.
"We paid for him to be a good colt, and he trained down like a good horse all winter. I was always very high on him," said trainer Scott McEneny, who offered up $100,000 for the youngster at last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. "That’s a good way to start the season."
McEneny shares ownership of Lifetime Royalty with Brad Grant of Milton and Martwest Racing Stable of Mississauga, Ontario. The son of Royalty For Life and Cha Cha Glide has two relatives that have earned more than $1 million — American-bred What The Hill and former Ontario Sires Stakes star Majestic Son — and McEneny had a bold circle around his name in the Lexington sales catalog.
"I loved him, he was a gorgeous colt at the sale, and I just said to Brad, I said I’d really like to take him home, and we did," the trainer recalled. "We had to pay for him — $100,000 for first crop Ontario -sired was pretty good money —but he was just gorgeous, he looks the part, and he always has been the part."
Prior to Monday’s victory, Lifetime Royalty had posted runner-up finishes in his June 25 and July 3 qualifiers and in a July 9 two-year-old conditioned event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, giving him an early season bank balance of $29,600.
The second division saw driver Louis Philippe Roy employ similar tactics with Dream Nation from Post 5. The pair got away near the back of the pack and then advanced up the outer lane, taking control around the final turn. Through the stretch the fan favourites drew away to a four and one-half length victory in 1:59.4. Tymal Tullo was second and Tennessee Titan finished third.
"There’s some young trotters that can get aggressive a little bit, so they drive you more than you drive them, but this one, he’ll do what you want," said Roy, who drove the Archangel gelding to the win for trainer Jacques Dupont and owners Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, Ecurie CSL of Sorel-Tracy, Gestion C. Levesque 2015 Inc. of St-Hyacinthe and Marc Camirand of Montreal., Quebec. "I trained him maybe four or five times with Jacques, even before qualifying him, and every time, just perfect attitude, doing what you want."
Flawless through his June 25 qualifier and a July 2 two-year-old conditioned event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Dream Nation has earned back $33,100 of his $42,000 purchase price from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.
The third division saw another come-from-behind performance from fan favourite Southwind Avenger and driver Trevor Henry, who sat fifth through the first half of the mile and then accelerated up the outer lane to a three and one-half length victory in 1:59.4.
Henry engineered the victory from Post 8 for New Jersey-based trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman and owners Mel Hartman of Ottawa, Ontario, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, Florida and Little E LLC of New York, New York, and the veteran reinsman found the victory uniquely satisfying.
"I always liked the colt, when he was a yearling I went and looked at him at the sale, but I knew we wouldn’t be able to afford him," explained Henry. "I always had in the back of my head, at least if he turns out I’ll have shot to drive him, because I liked the colt, I watched videos of him, I really liked him."
The hammer fell at $77,000 for Southwind Avenger at the Lexington sale and the colt delivered a pair of qualifying victories at Harrah’s Philadelphia before shipping north to compete in the Ontario Sires Stakes.
The final division saw an impressive late sprint by Forbidden Trade land reinsman Bob McClure in the Gold Series winner’s circle for the first time in his career. Starting from Post 8, McClure and the son of Kadabra and former Ontario Sires Stakes superstar Pure Ivory hit the wire in 1:59.2, reeling in Tymal Houdini and fan favorite Jumpshot.
"I’ve had about six seconds, but no (Gold) wins," explained the 27-year-old reinsman, who drove the colt to the win for trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination of Montreal, Quebec. "He almost over trotted coming out of the turn, but it’s his first lifetime start, and once he got his head down and going he was doing some trotting."
A $110,000 purchase from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale, Forbidden Trade delivered a 28 second last quarter to earn the victory.
All four colts will have an opportunity to add to their provincial resume in the second Gold Series event on July 29 at Georgian Downs.
On Thursday the three-year-old trotting colts make their first Grassroots stop at Woodbine Mohawk Park, competing in Races 5 and 8. Thursday’s first race goes behind the starting gate at 7:30 pm. (Ontario Sires Stakes)