ONTARIO SIRES STAKES
INNISFIL - Ontario’s top two-year-old trotting colts made their second Gold Series start at Georgian Downs on Tuesday evening and the top two colts from the first leg swapped places in both divisions.
In the first $105,600 division, Hetalkstoangels hustled away from the starting gate and led the field of seven trotters to a :28 opening quarter. Favourite Port Perry led the parade up the outer lane heading for the :58.2 half, followed closely by second choice Blue Cupertino. By the 1:27.4 three-quarters the favourites had advanced to within a length of Hetalkstoangels and as the colts turned for home it was clear the pacesetter would not hold off the challengers.
Port Perry turned for home with an advantage, but Blue Cupertino trotted hard down the stretch and caught the favourite at the wire, getting a head in front for the 1:57.1 victory. The result was the reverse of the July 4 opening leg, where Port Perry hit the wire first and Blue Cupertino was second. Scamp, who was fifth in the season opener, improved to third.
“He’s a nice little trotter. He’s been a nice horse all winter,” said trainer Gregg McNair of Blue Cupertino. “We had the sister (Pink Dandelions) to him last year. I probably wouldn’t have bought this one without knowing a little bit about the family, that’s why we took a shot at this one.”
Doug McNair of Guelph drove Blue Cupertino to the win for his father and the elder McNair’s partners, McKinlay and Fielding of Toronto, Ont. and breeder Crawford Farms Racing of Syracuse, N.Y. The trip was ideal for the son of Kadabra and Rise N Shine, who needs a cautious hand on the lines.
“You’ve got to watch him. He wears trotting hopples, they’re on him for a reason,” said the trainer. “He can go though, he just, he’s a little lazy and then he’s got to know you’re wanting to ask him to go before you ask. If you just tap him or something he’s apt to fly out of gear on you.”
A $20,000 purchase out of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Tuesday’s win pushed Blue Cupertino’s early season earnings to $79,800.
“I’ve had a few horses with Jim (Fielding) before and not much luck, so I’m kind of glad we got a little luck with this guy — a little luck, lots of luck,” added Guelph, Ont. resident McNair. “They’re hard to get, the Gold wins, they’re real hard to get. It’s a good feeling when it happens.”
The second $106,400 division saw driver Scott Young hustle Crossfit Mouse away from Post 2 and carve out fractions of :29.4, :59.3 and 1:29 on the way to a 1:57.2 victory. Fan favourite Threefiftytwo mounted a late charge, but could not reel in the pacesetter, finishing one length back in second. Horse Trader was two more lengths behind in third.
In the season opener both Crossfit Mouse and Threefiftytwo laid down impressive last quarters, with Threefiftytwo prevailing by a head. Horse Trader started his Ontario Sires Stakes career with a win in the Grassroots opener at Georgian Downs on July 7.
Guelph resident Young drove Crossfit Mouse for trainer Luc Blais of Campbellville, Ont. and owner Determination of Montreal, Que., who acquired the Muscle Mass colt after the first Gold event. Blais and Determination also acquired Threefiftytwo following the Gold Series season opener, and purchased Port Perry for $85,000 out of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale last fall, giving them a powerful entry in the freshman trotting colt division this summer.
“A little bit nervous you know, with a new horse, but they raced super good,” said Blais of Crossfit Mouse and Threefiftytwo. “I think they’re going to be two nice horses too. They showed the first start at Mohawk that they were nice horses, but that was the first time they race for us and everything turned out good.
“They’re all different, three horses, all different,” Blais added. “Port Perry is a big horse, strong, tall. Crossfit is more stocky and low gait, and the other one looks like an athlete, Threefiftytwo. They’re all different.”
Crossfit Mouse’s victory was Young’s first in Gold Series action and the 27-year-old driver was grateful to Blais and Determination principal Serge Godin for giving him the opportunity.
“He’s a complete professional and a beautiful colt. I was very fortunate to drive a colt like this, I’m grateful to Luc and the owner for the opportunity,” said Young. “I grew up wanting to win stake races some day and to win a Gold is fantastic and completely rewarding, a dream come true.”
The Blais trio and their freshman trotting colt peers will make their third Gold Series start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Aug. 8.
Ontario Sires Stakes excitement returns to Georgian Downs on Tuesday, Aug. 13 with the fourth Gold Series Leg for the three-year-old trotting fillies.
Complete results for Tuesday’s program are available here.