When a horse puts together the kind of season Ontario Sires Stakes two-year-old stars Adare Castle, Duly Resolved, Prohibition Legal and Stonebridge Helios have, the experience is a once-in-a-lifetime journey to embrace with both arms, whether you own one or 100 per cent.
“We don’t miss a race. There’s four of us in that Gaelic Stable, we’ve been doing it for 10 to 12 years now, and Gary Durie, he was my dad’s best friend, they live up in Ottawa,” said Duly Resolved’s co-owner Joe Parkinson of Sharon, Ont. “He hasn’t missed a race, he drives down from Ottawa every time, and he’s got a quarter of a quarter. It’s just been a fun ride.”
Two-year-old trotting colt Duly Resolved, trotting filly Adare Castle, pacing filly Prohibition Legal and pacing colt Stonebridge Helios will wrap up their OSS seasons this Saturday, Oct. 16 at Woodbine Mohawk Park in their respective $225,000 Super Finals. All four head into the season finale at the top of their division standings. Prohibition Legal and Stonebridge Helios were undefeated in Gold Series action, going five-for-five and three-for-three respectively, while Duly Resolved was three-for-four and Adare Castle won four of five regular season starts.
The quartet was also victorious beyond the Ontario Sires Stakes program. Stonebridge Helios won his Champlain Stakes division; Adare Castle won her Champlain division and Peaceful Way elimination and finished second in the Peaceful Way final; Prohibition Legal won her Eternal Camnation division and Shes A Great Lady elimination and finished second in the Shes A Great Lady final; and Duly Resolved won his William Wellwood Memorial elimination and finished second in his Champlain Stakes division, the Wellwood final and the Mohawk Million. As a result, Duly Resolved has already banked $567,409, Prohibition Legal has tallied $451,704, Adare Castle has earned $373,537 and the lightly-staked Stonebridge Helios has pocketed $268,710.
“I didn’t put him in (the open stakes) because I was looking for an Ontario horse and I don’t believe in racing horses really hard,” said Ottawa, Ont. resident John Fleischman of Stonebridge Helios. “What I learned was: I should have certainly staked him to more things. I didn’t have to race him as often, but if I get another half-good horse I am going to stake them fairly liberally.”
Fleischman shares ownership of the Sunshine Beach colt with trainer John Pentland of London, Ont., and breeder Angie Stiller of Arva, Ont. Fleischman purchased the colt for $25,545 out of last fall’s London Virtual Yearling Sale and his partners bought in after Stonebridge Helios was a 1:51.4 winner in the July 16 Gold leg.
“He just had a simply beautiful video. More than racing, more than the money, I love horses, and this horse was graceful, he just had a beautiful video,” said Fleischman, who credits his former trainer and long-time friend George Groulx Jr. with helping him comb through the 2020 yearling sale videos. “It was love at first sight, or second sight, as many times as I watched it, and I showed it to everybody I knew.”
Bob McClure of Rockwood, Ont. will steer Stonebridge Helios from post one in the seventh race on Saturday’s card.
Driver James MacDonald will steer both Prohibition Legal, from post seven in Race 2, and Adare Castle, from post eight in Race 3, in pursuit of their Super Final titles. The Guelph, Ont., resident drives Big Jim daughter Prohibition Legal for owner/breeder Millar Farms of Stouffville, Ont., and Muscle Mass lass Adare Castle for trainer Mark Etsell of Rockwood, Ont., Robert Newton of Walkerton, Ont., Graham Hopkins of Chesley, Ont., and Peter Porter of Port Dover, Ont.
“It is quite a thing to have one like Adare Castle. Like most people say — well, everybody says — it’s a one in a lifetime thing,” said the filly’s co-owner Graham Hopkins of Chesley, Ont., who bought into the $10,000 yearling purchase when Etsell brought her home from last fall’s Black Book Yearling Sale. “And a lot of people never get that one in a lifetime.”
Adare Castle’s success has helped clear some of the clouds brought on by health challenges Hopkins and his co-owners suffered this year. Gathering at the barn or at the racetrack to watch her train and race was, according to both Etsell and Hopkins, just what the doctor ordered.
Parkinson has been lucky enough to own shares of other top trotters developed by trainer John Bax, like 2013 and 2014 Super Final champion Riveting Rosie, so he is keenly aware of the need to savour every moment of the journey with a rare athlete like Duly Resolved.
“He’s just been unbelievable this year, a head short of another half-million,” said Parkinson, who loved the Resolve son’s video and was in on the gelding as soon as Bax’s $30,000 bid was successful at last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. “He’s just chill, he doesn’t get revved up, he’s two fingers to drive, you can leave with him, you can sit him in a hole, he’s just good. You don’t teach that, you just try and not screw it up. They’re just born that way, the great ones, no different from a human athlete. You can manage them or help them sometimes, but the really good ones usually don’t need the help.”
Paul MacDonell of Guelph, Ont. will steer Duly Resolved from post one in Saturday’s eighth race on behalf of Parkinson and his Gaelic Stable partners, Bax Stable of Campbellville, Ont., Don Allensen of Wyoming, Ont., and Dave Hudson of Dallas, Texas.
The eight $225,000 Super Finals will go postward in Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 10 at Woodbine Mohawk Park this Saturday, Oct. 16. The Campbellville, Ont. oval’s first race goes postward at 7 p.m.
To view entries for Saturday's card of harness racing, click on one of the following links: Saturday Entries — Program Pages (courtesy TrackIT).
(With files from OSS)