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Molson Pace Field Set, 2011 OSS Season Kicks Off


Published: May 20, 2011 10:59 pm ET

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Having captured the top two spots in the 2010 Molson Pace with Won The West and Foiled Again, trainer Ron Burke will look to dominate the 2011 edition as well after sweeping both eliminations on Friday at Western Fair Raceway.

Atochia fought gamely to finish second in the first of two $20,000 eliminations, but inherited the victory due to a judges’ placing of winner Art Professor.

Favourite Art Professor (Jody Jamieson) and Legal Litigator (Mark Macdonald) hustled off the gate from post positions five and six in an early battle for the lead but Legal Litigator eventually settled for a two-hole trip before the :28-second opener quarter flashed up.

As the field moved in front of the grandstand, Atochia and driver Yannick Gingras launched a first over attack from fourth and applied heavy pressure to the ‘Professor’ past the half in :57.3 and three-quarters in 1:25.2.

The top two took off around the final turn and down the stretch in a heated battle but Art Professor got into close quarters with Atochia causing interference against his rival and ultimately costing him the official victory. He crossed the wire in 1:52.1 with a half-length lead but was placed back to second. Rock Me Please (Mike Saftic) rallied wide past three-quarters from last to show, finishing nine and a half lengths behind. Legal Litigator finished fourth and will also advance to next week’s final.

“I wasn’t really happy with where I got away,” admitted Gingras after the race. “This is the kind of horse that likes to be covered up. I got away fourth and I was stuck first up but he raced good tonight and he actually really surprised me. That’s really not his kind of trip and he had to fight hard.

"He’s the kind of horse you can’t clear too early. I really feel I could have cleared a little bit earlier, maybe in the backside, I had a ton of horse and Jody was going strong already but you kind of have to trick him into doing his work. I was just trying to time my move right. I think I was going to get by him anyway, but we had a little mishap there halfway down the stretch but it worked out.”

Atochia paid $5.40 to win as the second choice in the field. Ron Burke trains the 20-time career winner, who is approaching the million dollar mark in lifetime earnings. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, the JJK Stables and the M1 Stable share ownership of the six-year-old Dragon Again-Hot Shot Michelle gelding, who is two-for-nine this year with close to $100,000 earned.

Fresh off a victory in the Graduate at the Meadowlands Racetrack, last year’s Molson Pace runner-up Foiled Again joined his stablemate as the second official elimination winner.

Inside starter Anderlecht (Scott Coulter) emerged from a wall of early leavers with the lead and posted a :27-second opening quarter, but 1-9 favourite Foiled Again and Yannick Gingras worked their way to the front and reached the next marker in :56.3.

Aracache Hanover (Sylvain Filion) was hot on his heels with Valentino (Jody Jamieson) angling three-deep as they neared the three-quarters mark in 1:25.3. Pouring it on in the stretch, Foiled Again opened up three lengths on his rivals to prevail in 1:53. Anderlecht was the runner-up with Aracache Hanover and Valentino earning the last two spots in the final.

“I didn’t really want to race him on the front, I was looking to be first up or something like that,” said Gingras. “In the first turn there was a lot of traffic and I didn’t want to get locked in so I took my shot there.”

Gingras noted his choice for the final is not a hard one – he will drive Foiled Again.

“He’s just tough,” said the Quebec native. He’s gone some really, really tough miles in his career and he keeps bouncing back. He’s just a little guy but he thinks he’s big. He races hard all the time and he’s a great horse.”

Foiled Again paid $2.10 to win. The seven-year-old son of Dragon Again-In A Safe Place has won six of nine races this year earning $327,900. The $2.3 million earner notched his 50th career win for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and the JJK Stables.

The 2011 Ontario Sires Stakes season kicked off on Friday night with sophomore fillies in the spotlight.

Fresh off a victory in the $80,000 Princess Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack one week ago, Camille turned in another winning effort as she captured the first OSS event of the year, one of two $40,000 Gold eliminations for pacing fillies.

Monkey On My Wheel (Rick Zeron) fired off the gate from Post 3 and took control of the field of five ahead of insider starter Camille and driver Jason Brewer. However, Camille was on the move early, brushing up to take over command before the :29.1 opening quarter.

After taking a breather to the half in :59.2, the 3-4 favourite was faced with her first challenge. Patsys Luck (Mike Saftic) rolled up alongside the leader after getting away third and pushed ahead en route to three-quarters in 1:29.1, however, she lost that lead after getting a little steppy around the final turn.

Camille forged ahead with a pocket pulling Monkey On My Wheel coming on strong. Monkey On My Wheel ran out of racetrack though as Camille stopped the clock in 1:57.1, over a track rated ‘good’ earlier in the night, with half a length to spare. Patsys Luck finished third.

Ron Duford trains the Camluck-Art Of Design filly for owner-breeder Larry Pollard of Harrow, Ont. An OSS Grassroots champion at two, Camille has won six of her 14 career starts while banking $158,580.

Last year’s Battle of Belles champion and 3-1 favourite Village Janus captured the other elimination in front-stepping fashion.

With Yannick Gingras in the bike for trainer Rod Therres, who co-owns with Larry Schmidt of Abbotsford, B.C., the Mondern Art-Village Jest filly took control of the field of six from the inside post position and could not be caught as she carved out panels of :28.1, :59.1 and 1:27 en route to an one and a half length score in 1:55.4 over the ‘good’ track, which was three-fifths of a second off her lifetime mark. Pocket-sitter Mach Lady (Jody Jamieson) finished second and Lauren (Mike Saftic) followed for third. Last year’s Super Final winner and O’Brien Award nominee Modern Connection finished sixth and did not advance.

“It was pretty easy, I got an easy lead and we got to rate it after,” said Gingras following the victory. “At that point, I was just like ‘catch me if you can’. We went as fast as we could from there and she held on pretty easy. She was letting up a little bit but I knew I was home free so I didn’t get after her too much.”

Village Janus, now two-for-two this year, has won six races in 15 career starts and earned $156,200 while racing primarily in the OSS program.

Three $40,000 eliminations were required for the trotting fillies with Extraordinaire winning her season’s debut in the first event.

Momentous (James MacDonald) flashed early gate speed from Post 2 while China Pearls (Carmen Hie) and Magical Paige (Robert Shepherd) made early breaks and were refunded after judges ruled they did not receive a fair start. Heavy favourite Extraordinaire also made an early miscue while leaving the gate but recovered and rolled up to take over command before the :29.3 opening quarter.

Extraordinaire led a strung out field past the half in 1:01.1 and three-quarters in 1:31.1 with Youlneverwalkalone (Blair Burgess) advancing from third. She too made a break entering the stretch leaving Extraordinaire to walk alone. Extraordinaire cruised to a 2:02.1 triumph with Momentous following over a length behind for second and China Pearls back in the game for third.

“She made a little miscue leaving but she caught right back and the rest she did on her own,” said Wayne Henry, who trains and drives the winning filly for the Henry Stable of Arthur and Kaye Laverty of Sauble Beach, Ont. “We’re going to try to stick with Gold if she’s good enough. If not I can drop her back to Grassroots, which ever works.”

The Duke Of York-She Has It filly won three of 12 races at two, including two Gold finals, and picked up cheques in all but one start to earn $211,940.

Last year’s Super Final winner Oh Sweet Baby kicked off her season with a sweet victory in the second elimination for the Baillargeon brothers and owner Richard Berthiaume of Pointe-Aux-Trembles, Que.

Oh Sweet Baby and driver Mario Baillargeon swept to command ahead of early speedster My Whispering Eye (James MacDonald) at the :29.3 first quarter mark. The Angus Hall-Galahads Damsel filly, trained by Ben Baillargeon, faced some pressure from O’Brien Award nominee Peach Martini (Rick Zeron) as the field moved in front of the grandstand. Peach Martini began to chip away at Oh Sweet Baby’s lead past the half in 1:01.2 and three-quarters in 1:32, but Oh Sweet Baby sprinted away in the stretch to score in 2:01.2. Peach Martini settled for second and My Whispering Eye finished third.

“I thought my filly would be a little short, it’s only her first start but I had the rail,” said Mario Baillargeon of Oh Sweet Baby, who won two of 11 races as a freshman and earned $243,530. “Here at Western Fair, the post position means a lot and we got the middle half real cheep. She’s a classy mare, she won the Super Final coming first up last fall so I’m not worried about her at all.”.

The popular Lukes Sophie benefitted from an early speed dual and overcame her outside post position to win the fastest and final elimination for driver Jody Jamieson and his father, trainer and co-owner Carl Jamieson.

Pretty Crafty (Mario Baillargeon) blasted off the gate from the rail with L A Freeway (Stephen Byron) parked and pressing. The pair took off from the field in an early battle with L A Freeway crossing in front past the :27.4 first quarter mark. Jamieson rolled his filly first up as they headed to the half in :59.2 and went head-to-head with the pacesetter to three-quarters in 1:28.2. Lukes Sophie gained the upper hand around turn and pulled away in the stretch to score in 1:58.3 by three lengths. Pretty Crafty finished second with L A Freeway third.

“I had the same grip on her going behind the gate as I did crossing the line,” said Jamieson, who is expecting the birth of his son in just six weeks with wife Stephanie. “She’s a very talented filly. Soundness has always been her issue. You can see her bum coming up a little bit - she’s hiking a little bit - but as long as she stays sound it looks like she is maybe one of the better ones.

"I’ve screwed up so much tonight and coming into the race with the eight-hole I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to screw this one up.’ I just stayed like five lengths back off the one and two horse and let the race come into itself. She’s a real game filly and it worked out that we got out of the first turn without any hitches and the rest is history.”

Lightly raced at two, Lukes Sophie is now two-for-two this year. The Here Comes Herbie-Lady Prospect filly, who is co-owned by Thomas Kyron of Toronto, Ont. boosted her career bankroll to $58,802 with tonight’s victory.

The City of London Trotting Series continued on Friday night with five $9,000 second leg divisions. Defy Time (2:00.4) and Althea M (2:03.1) won the filly and mare events while P C Dream Ride (2:02.1), Baileys Magic (2:04) and Vesa T (2:03) captured the colt and gelding splits.

Three-year-old Southfork trotting filly Defy Time is perfect in two series starts and will tackle OSS Grassroots competition next Tuesday, May 24 at Western Fair for driver Robert Shepherd, trainer Ian Downey and co-owners Susan Downey of St. George Brant and Scott Maracle of Brantford, Ont. Unraced at two, she has six wins in eight starts with two seconds on her lifetime record.

The victory for four-year-old Kadabra trotter Baileys Magic also gave him a series double. Eddie Green trains and drives for owner Kathryn Hill of Ohsweken, Ont.

Here is a look at the fields for next week’s stakes finals:

$300,000 Molson Pace
1. Legal Litigator
2. Anderlecht
3. Foiled Again
4. Aracache Hanover
5. Valentino
6. Art Professor
7. Rock Me Please
8. Atochia

$130,000 OSS Gold Final – Three-Year-Old Pacing Fillies
1. Monkey On My Wheel
2. Smartygirl
3. Village Janus
4. Shipps Xanadu
5. Camille
6. Mach Lady
7. Look Cheap
8. Lauren
AE1. Mias Star
AE2. Modern Connection

$130,000 OSS Gold Final – Three-Year-Old Trotting Fillies
1. Lukes Sophie
2. L A Freeway
3. Peach Martini
4. Extraordinaire
5. My Whispering Eye
6. Pretty Crafty
7. Momentous
8. Oh Sweet Baby
AE1. China Pearls

For results from Friday's harness racing card, click on the following link: Friday Results - Western Fair Raceway.

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