Can Winning Ticket Defy Post 10 Odds?
Chris Beaver hit the jackpot with Winning Ticket.
A $4,000 yearling purchase, the now three-year-old male trotter is 10-for-10 this season with earnings of $339,500 as he prepares to compete on the Grand Circuit for the first time in 2021 when he visits Woodbine Mohawk Park for Saturday’s (Sept. 18) $606,500 Canadian Trotting Classic.
It will be the gelding’s first trip outside Ohio this season. In his most recent start, Winning Ticket captured the Ohio Sires Stakes championship in 1:54.2 at MGM Northfield Park.
Winning Ticket was unlucky with the draw, getting post position 10 in the 10-horse Canadian Trotting Classic field. Entering Thursday, trotters had won six of 134 starts (4.5 per cent) from the gate’s outermost spot.
“I hoped for a little better set up the first time out on the Grand Circuit, but I guess we’ll see what happens,” said Beaver, who trains and co-owns Winning Ticket. “I think he will actually be a lot better following (horses), and I would think he will definitely be following from the 10-hole.
“I don’t really know what he can do because he’s handled the Ohio horses so easily this year. It’s really a question mark how fast he can go right now, but I think he should be able to go with the horses in that race.”
Winning Ticket led at the first quarter in eight races this year and at the half in all 10. He was a heavy favourite in his most recent nine starts after being the 6-5 second choice in his seasonal debut. His best win time of 1:53.1, which came in a division of the Ohio Sires Stakes, established a track record at Eldorado Scioto Downs.
“What’s amazed me is some of the quick speed he’s displayed in the first quarters,” Beaver said. “He doesn’t do it training. He’s quiet training, he doesn’t seem like anything exceptional. But when he gets to the races, he does extra. That’s definitely a good trait. I think a horse that takes care of himself is always preferable.”
Winning Ticket won four of eight races as a two-year-old. He went off stride in all four of his losses.
“Last year he was a little bit aggressive,” Beaver said, adding that the horse was gelded this past spring. “His manners are really good this year. I thought he would probably be a real nice horse, but I didn’t expect him to dominate like he did. He trained down good, but not any better than some of my other horses.”
Beaver raced Winning Ticket four times from April 6 to May 3, with the horse winning the James K. Hackett Memorial championship and Scarlet & Gray Invitational along the way. From there, Beaver backed off.
“I was just trying to keep him tight enough to win the sire stakes, keep him good for the final,” Beaver said. “So, he hasn’t been on his toes all season. Because of that, we don’t know how much faster he can go. He’s never really had a horse push him any more than (1:53.1) either. I don’t think that he’s done, but we’ll see.”
Beaver owns Winning Ticket with Steven Zeehandelar, Tim Homan, and Jim Burnett. He bought the horse, a son of past Beaver standout Triumphant Caviar out of Lotto Winner, at the 2019 Blooded Horse Sale.
No video was available of Winning Ticket, which Beaver believes was the primary reason for his bargain sale price.
“I know Triumphant Caviars really well and he couldn’t be bred any better, the mare crossed absolutely perfect, so I was going to buy him even if he cost a lot more,” Beaver said. “As it turned out, no one else wanted him.”
Aaron Merriman drove Winning Ticket in his 10 races this year. David Miller will take over in the sulky in the Canadian Trotting Classic.
The field also includes Fashion Frenzie, who last week won the Goodtimes Stakes at Mohawk for trainer Richard Moreau and driver Louis Roy, and Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial champion Spy Booth. Fashion Frenzie will start from post six. Spy Booth will leave from post seven with Dexter Dunn driving for trainer Nancy Takter.
Saturday’s card also includes the $414,000 Elegantimage Stakes for three-year-old female trotters, featuring Hambletonian Oaks winner Bella Bellini and O’Brien Award winner Donna Soprano.
To view complete entries for Saturday's harness racing card at Woodbine Mohawk Park and complimentary past performance pages, click on the following links: Saturday Entries -- Program Pages (courtesy TrackIT).