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Wall Of Fame Night At Western Fair

Published: May 15, 2015 10:11 pm ET

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Champagne Phil romped to an easy win in the $11,000 Wall Of Fame Pace featured on Friday night's harness racing card at The Raceway at The Western Fair District in London, Ont.

The race was part of the evening's festivities celebrating super sire Camluck, who was inducted into The Raceway's Wall of Fame.

After going from last to first in his previous Preferred 2 start on April 28, Champagne Phil went wire-to-wire this time out to deliver on his pari-mutuel promise as the overwhelming 1-5 favourite. Driven by Bob McClure, the son of Shanghai Phil carved out fractions from :27.3, :56.4 and 1:25.2 en route to the three and a half length victory in 1:54 flat. Button Up and Mike Horner followed from the pocket for second-place honours and Kendal Gustav finished third with Lorne House in the sulky.

Dean Nixon trains Champagne Phil for Icr Racing of Pefferlaw, Ont. The win was the five-year-old gelding's 17th lifetime and pushed his career earnings to $237,503.

Following the sixth race feature, Camluck's induction ceremony was held trackside and his framed Wall Of Fame photo was revealed. Trainer Bob McIntosh and representatives of Seelster Farms, where he stood for 25 years before being retired from active duty last October, were present.

"It's great to see all of the connections of Camluck -- those who had him during his racing career and, of course, those who had him during his incredible stallion career," said Raceway Manager Greg Blanchard. "He is the 32nd inductee into our prestigious Wall of Fame here at London's The Raceway."

"It's been a thrill to be apart of this horse's life," said Ann Straatman, reproduction manager at Seelster Farms in Lucan, Ont. "He is the ultimate stallion in progeny earnings -- number one in North America -- and to be inducted here at Western Fair, our home track, it means a very great deal to our family."

"Camluck was a great racehorse, but he became a superstar as a sire and that's where he really separated himself from everyone," added McIntosh. "Somebody said to me, he's a once-in-a-lifetime horse. I said he's a once-in-10-lifetime horse. I was just so lucky to get him; he's been a big part of my life."

The 2015 Racing Under Saddle Ontario season also kicked off on Friday with 3-5 favourite Lexus Hawkeye and rider Natalie Elliott going wire-to-wire in 2:05 in the $4,200 wagering event. They held off Sas Warkentin and Brit Kennedy in a two-horse breakaway for the half-length victory. Lady Is A Pirate appeared to be out of contention early on for Sarah Town, but the mare found her best stride down the backside and overtook Callie Magoo for third. Eye Eye Captain rounded out the field after failing to make the starting gate.

"It feels as good as it did last year!" said Elliott of her winning RUS ride.

Trained by Pam Forgie and owned by John Patterson of Bayfield, Ont., the six-year-old chestnut gelding has been perfect in RUS races as he also teamed up with Elliott to win a pair of events last year at The Raceway and Flamboro Downs.

"John Patterson is a great owner," said Elliott. "He's got another one, Thor Seelster, and the two of them are lined up for Racing Under Saddle all summer."

Elliott and Thor Seelster are scheduled to compete in the next RUS Ontario race this Sunday, May 17 on Confederation Cup Day at Flamboro Downs.

The miniature horses were also part of the on-track Friday fun, competing in a pair of non-wagering, quarter-mile races.

With the inside advantage in the Mini Gallop, Chester and Carl Dawson won an early three-way battle for the lead and held off Simba and Susie Kerwood at the wire by a neck. Norton and Alexis Noelle Bandy finished third.

The Mini Trot was won by A Wee Nut and Samantha Stein, with Diamond Doc and Andree-Anne Fontaine following for second and Gentle George third with Marie Brooking in the mini sulky.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Western Fair Raceway.


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