The top performers in the 2016 Ontario Sires Stakes program converged at Mohawk Racetrack for Saturday's $2 million Super Final Night at Mohawk Racetrack.
Trot Insider has provided live coverage of all eight $250,000 championships below.
Two-Year-Old Colt Trot
Season leader Mass Production proved his divisional dominance with a blowout win in the evening's first Super Final for trainer/driver Rick Zeron.
The first half-mile was full of action with multiple lead changes and misbehaving trotters, but once Mass Production made the front, there was no catching the Muscle Mass-All Time Favorite gelding as he took off to win by open-lengths in a new stakes record clocking of 1:54.4.
Speedycrest (Jack Moiseyev) fired to the front first from post seven with Dream Massive (James MacDonald) and Reach The Peak (Sylvain Filion) driving three-wide into the first turn. Dream Massive cleared eventual breaker Speedycrest by the :28 first quarter mark with Reach The Peak still parked from post nine. Meanwhile, Mass Production followed into the outer flow.
After Reach The Peak cleared to command down the backstretch, Mass Production swept by at the :57.3 half-mile mark. Lucys Man (Mike Saftic) pursued next in line and tucked into the expanding pocket after Reach The Peak broke stride. But Mass Production left his rivals behind to sort out the minor awards as he sped past three-quarters in 1:26.1 and trotted away down the stretch to win by eight and three-quarter lengths.
Mass Production shaved one-fifth of a second off the all-time OSS record for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, which was held by Harper Blue Chip.
Tycoon Seelster (Paul MacDonell) and Dream Massive rounded out the top three finish order.
"He's a hell of a colt, boy!" said Zeron after the victory. "He started off in mid-April and Shayne Barrington, my trainer, said to me, 'We got a pretty good colt here, Rick' so we watched ourselves with him and played it by ear, but what really helped this colt was giving us a month off between the fourth and fifth Gold. He grew a lot and developed a lot and he came back his last two starts and was just a creature his last two starts.
"I just had to make sure I wasn't getting into any traffic trouble, and you know, then I could move him over and I said to him, 'You just go on up to the front and you can control your own destiny.'"
Mass Production did just that and etched his name into the history books in the process, but his speedy performance wasn't a surprise for his trainer.
"He won a couple weeks ago in :55 and a piece and and he was stronger this week training, Shayne said, so we were looking for big things tonight," said Zeron. "We got a real nice warm night, no wind, no rain, and it's a joy to have your own horse that you developed trot in :54."
A $32,000 Canadian Yearling Sale acquisition, Mass Production was bred by Stan Klemencic of Trenton, Ont. and is owned by the Rick Zeron Stables of Oakville, Ont., James Walker of Port Perry, Ont., Bruno Dipoce of Wasaga Beach, Ont., and Rene Allard of Matamoras, Pennsylvania. He has won five of his nine career starts while banking $285,673.
"It was a great year for this colt, and you know, we're looking for big things for him next year and we'll just take it from there," said Zeron.
Mass Production paid $3.10 to win.
Three-Year-Old Filly Pace
Fan favourite L A Delight ended her perfect Ontario Sires Stakes career with another Super Final title, digging in to fight off Bad As Leader for the 1:50.3 victory for driver Randy Waples and trainer Bob McIntosh.
Leaving from post four, L A Delight emerged between fillies to take the lead over insider Party In Rome (Jack Moiseyev) at the :26.2 first quarter mark with Mayhem Seelster (Sylvain Filion) parked and pressing.
L A Delight released Mayhem Seelster to the lead and then quickly retook down the backstretch, reaching the half in :54.2 and then three-quarters in 1:23 while Bourbon Seelster (Mike Saftic) stalled first-over.
L A Delight remained clear into the stretch, but Bad As Leader (Trevor Henry) has maneuvered out and was closing in quickly as the wire approached. However, L A Delight ultimately persevered by a head while Party In Rome finished two lengths back in third.
Sent postward as the overwhelming 1-9 favourite, L A Delight paid $2.20 to win.
"Coming down the lane, I said, 'Come on wire! Hurry up wire!'" laughed McIntosh, who is the leading OSS trainer for Super Final wins, picking up his 11th title with L A Delight's latest victory. "They were coming, but right down by the wire, if you watch the replay, she dug in. She just wants to win and that's something you can't teach them, they're just born with it, and right before the wire, I just saw her dig in and she took off and she wasn't going to get beat."
The homebred Bettors Delight-West Of L A filly is owned by the Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. of Windsor, Ont., C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, Ont.
"We bred her and she's out of a sister to Thinking Out Loud," noted McIntosh. "So I trained her second dam too, Los Angeles, so it's totally a home grown one for sure."
L A Delight has won all 11 of her OSS starts over the last two seasons and is now 20-for-27 lifetime with earnings over $1.35 million.
"I've been very fortunate to train a lot of good horses and great fillies," said the Hall of Fame trainer. "I'd have to say, she's probably the best filly I ever did train. Just based on her consistency, it was unbelievable, and her desire to win."
L A Delight will look to add to her list of accomplishments next in the Breeders Crown.
Two-Year-Old Filly Trot
With divisional leader and 1-9 favourite On A Sunny Day breaking stride in the first turn, the door was left wide open for a longshot winner in the next Super Final. Winter Sweet Frost overcame her outside post and pulled off the 10-1 upset with Doug McNair working out the winning trip aboard the Paul Reid trainee.
Stuck In My Spanks (David Miller) came away with a two-length lead by the :28 first quarter mark after insider On A Sunny Day (Sylvain Filion) made a miscue that sent her from first to last. Meanwhile, McNair was able to secure what turned out to be a pocket trip after leaving from post nine with Winter Sweet Frost.
Stuck In My Spanks continued to lead the field to the half in :56.4 before McNair made his move with Winter Sweet Frost on approach to the 1:26.1 third quarter mark and they drew away by three lengths into the stretch. Gravitator (Rick Zeron) came tearing off cover down the lane, but Winter Sweet Frost maintained a one and a half length advantage to the wire over that rival while her stablemate, Holiday Promise (Chris Christoforou), finished third.
The winning time of 1:55.4 was a new lifetime mark for the homebred Kadabra-American Frost filly, who is owned by Robert Key of Leechburg, Pennsylvania.
After seeing the favourite break stride, Reid said that he was just hoping his fillies didn't suffer the same fate.
"I was just hoping mine stayed trotting," he said. "It's been a long season for a lot of these fillies so you just never know."
A two-time Gold winner earlier this summer, Sweet Winter Frost now has three wins from nine career starts and earnings over $300,000.
"She's learned to sit in a whole, which is definitely going to help her career," said Reid. "You can't always be on the front-end, especially when it's that class of fillies out there today.
"I was real proud of her to keep digging in like that [in the stretch] and it's just a great night so far."
Sweet Winter Frost paid $22.70 for a $2 win ticket.
Two-Year-Old Filly Pace
After a disappointing loss with two-year-old filly trotter On A Sunny Day, Sylvain Filion came back and engineered a 9-1 upset victory in the next Super Final for filly pacers with Yaris Bayama.
Fade (Jonathan Drury) took the lead from post six over his Casie Coleman stablemate Windy Sport (David Miller) while Doug McNair had Action Majesty firing out from post 10 into the mix. Action Majesty cleared before the first quarter mark, timed in a quick :26.1.
Meanwhile, post eight starter Bid Writer (James MacDonald) was left parked out before finding a spot along the pylons mid-pack ahead of Yaris Bayama. As Bid Writer dropped in, Filion tipped Yaris Bayama out.
Action Majesty continued to lead the field past the half in :55.3 while Yaris Bayama flushed out cover in the form of Windy Sport, who turned up the heat on the leader to three-quarters in 1:24.2.
Windy Sport gained the upper hand down the stretch before Yaris Bayama took over with Fade coming through between horses and the 2-1 divisional leader, Aint Three Ok (Trevor Henry), closing late on the far outside. However, Yaris Bayama came out on top, prevailing by three-quarters of a length in 1:53 flat. Fade was the runner-up over Aint Three Ok and Windy Sport.
Yaris Bayama returned $20.40 to her backers at the betting windows.
"We had a decent post and the trip worked out for us," said Filion after the race. "She was good and strong tonight. Throughout he season she had issues, she was sick, but tonight she was real good. You've got to give credit to Stephane Larocque."
Larocque trains the homebred Sportswriter-Lucky Josie filly, who started her career in the Grassroots program and has now won half of her 10 career starts while banking $231,820 in purses. She is owned by Bayama Farms Inc. of Saint-Andre-D'Argenteuil, Que.
While disappointed after On A Sunny Day's break in stride in the previous Super Final, Filion is hoping that filly will mature with time.
"I was real disappointed the race before," he said. "She [On A Sunny Day] wasn't quite herself; I couldn't get her to trot around the turn. You know, they're babies, they're two-year-olds, they're still learning. Hopefully, next year she'll come back even better."
Three-Year-Old Colt Trot
Sylvain Filion managed another mild upset with 7-1 shot Warrawee Roo, who helped make amends for his stablemate On A Sunny Day's miscue earlier in the night. This time, the connections of trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination of Montreal, Que. benefitted from a break in stride made by the favourite.
Will Take Charge (Paul MacDonell) took charge firing off the gate from post six over Zagster (Trevor Henry), but his lead was short-lived as post eight starter Bee In Charge (Chris Christoforou) continued his march to the top through a :27.1 opening quarter.
From there, divisional leader and 9-5 favourite Muscle Hustle (Randy Waples) came rushing up from an early four-hole to take over command on the way to the :57 half-mile mark.
Dia Monde (Doug McNair) then took his shot and gained a slight advantage while Muscle Hustle tried to fight back before breaking stride at the 1:24.4 third quarter mark. Dia Monde inherited the lead, but Warrawee Roo rallied off his cover down the middle of the track to score in 1:53.4 by one length. Will Take Charge finished second over Dia Monde, with Bee In Charge inside fourth.
"When you've got guys that work all year after their horses and they're a heavy favourite in the final and make a break like that, it's pretty tough to take," said Filion, referring the the Blais-trained On A Sunny Day, "but luckily this horse here, who we didn't really expect to win at all, he saved the night.
"We had a good trip; we had a second-over trip. I knew if I could get a decent trip and he could stay flat, because that's the main thing with him... He's got a lot of issues, health and soundness issues, and he's beat these horses before, but he's made a lot of breaks lately. Tonight, he kept it together and man, he was strong."
Warrawee Roo, who entered the Super Final off a qualifying mile after making breaks in his last two starts, paid $17.50 to win.
Bred by Warrawee Farm of Rockwood, Ont., the bay colt was purchased for $44,000 from the Canadian Yearling Sale. After going winless in four starts as a freshman, he has earned five wins from 14 races this year with his Super Final winnings doubling his bankroll.
"I think he'll be a really nice four-year-old and I'm looking forward to him," said Filion.
Three-Year-Old Filly Trot
Filion struck again for Blais and Determination as he mapped out a perfect pocket trip in rein to Emoticon Hanover to defeat defending champion and 1-5 favourite Caprice Hill in the three-year-old filly trot.
Filion left from mid-field with Emoticon Hanover to lead through a :27.3 first quarter before Caprice Hill (Tim Tetrick) worked past her out of an early two-hole. Caprice Hill carved out middle splits of :55.4 and 1:24.2, but couldn't hold off Emoticon Hanover when she emerged from the pocket down the stretch. Emoticon Hanover defeated Caprice Hill by one and a quarter lengths in a career-best clocking of 1:53.1, with Wanaka (Trevor Henry) closing for third.
"I said if she finished second, I would be happy because Caprice Hill, she's an amazing filly," said Blais after Emoticon Hanover's victory. "But she had a perfect trip and she responded at the end. She looked good."
The Breeders Crown-bound Emoticon Hanover was the 2015 Super Final runner-up and the divisional point leader this year despite Caprice Hill being undefeated in three starts in the provincial program. Emoticon Hanover also won three Gold legs, but had an additional two runner-up finishes to give her the edge in the standings.
Lifetime, the Kadabra-Emmylou Who filly, who was a $165,000 purchase at the Harrisburg Sale as a yearling, has won 11 of her 23 starts while earning $700,000.
She was bred by Ontario's Linda Wellwood of St George Brant, Tammy Aspden of Caistor Centre, Anne Shunock of Dorchester, and Diane Ingham of Mount Pleasant.
Sent postward as the 5-1 second choice on the toteboard, Emoticon Hanover paid $12.30 to win.
While the evening didn't start as planned for the Blais stable, the trainer said it turned out to be a good night.
"That's racing horses, that's the game," he said of On A Sunny Day's miscue. "But 'Roo' won and her...she beat that mare here, it was a good night."
Two-Year-Old Colt Pace
Colin Johnson trainee Arsenal Seelster pulled off the biggest surprise of the night, prevailing at odds of 46-1 at the hands of Jonathan Drury.
Southwind General (Jody Jamieson) powered out from post eight to overtake Big Bad Bill (Trevor Henry) past the :26.1 first quarter. Meanwhile, Arsenal Seelster was next-to-last in the early going before following into the outer flow fourth-over.
Yogi Bayama (Yves Filion) went first-up from mid-pack at the :55.4 half-mile post with divisional leader and 4-5 favourite Streakavana (Sylvain Filion) following his cover. He applied pressure to Southwind General through three-quarters in 1:24.3 before taking over into the stretch.
Machin A Trick (James MacDonald) closed well, but Arsenal Seelster rallied off his back down the lane to score in 1:53 flat by one and three-quarter lengths. Yogi Bayama finished second and Machin A Trick was third.
"I just feel great. We always knew that he had the speed to race these kind of horses and he just didn't have a lot of luck in some of the races and it just didn't work out for him," said Johnson after the victory. "But today, with the way the speed was up front, he was able to kick home good and I'm very happy with the way he raced."
The lightly raced colt had just three starts in the Gold Series in his debut season, with his best result a pair of fifth-place finishes. He returned a whopping $95.30 for a $2 win ticket.
The victory was the third in seven career starts for Arsenal Seelster and boosted his bankroll to $151,180.
The Seelster Farms-bred colt by Artistic Fella out of Alias Seelster was purchased for $35,000 from the Forest City Yearling Sale by Johnson and partners Thomas Kyron of Toronto, Brian Paquet of Quebec City, and Ecurie Jgv Enrg of Laval, Que.
"He was out of a great family and his mom was a real good mare and she's given some good offspring and we just liked the way he looked," said Johnson. "He was a big, strong colt and we liked that in him so we decided to take a shot on him."
Three-Year-Old Colt Pace
Betting Line closed out Super Final Night by overcoming his post 10 start and extending his win streak to 14 in rein to David Miller for trainer Casie Coleman.
Gerries Sport (Sylvain Filion) left from post six with Sintra (Jody Jamieson) firing out from post eight and taking over by the quarter pole, which was reached in :26.2. Voracity (Tim Tetrick) followed in third while Betting Line got away fourth.
Sintra led the field to the half in :55, with Betting Line moving underway first-over. The 1-5 favourite was still five lengths off the lead though by the 1:22 third quarter mark.
Sintra turned for home while Gerries Sport pursued from the pocket down the lane. However, Betting Line kicked into high-gear in deep stretch and surged past those rivals to win by one length in 1:49.3. Gerries Sport edged out Sintra for the runner-up honours.
"I know if I can have him somewhere close he's usually got a good enough kick to get home," said Miller of his racing strategy. "With the 10, I tried to get him somewhere close into the race, but I landed fourth. I knew what was coming. But he's tough and he can take it. He raced well again."
"I was a little bit worried at the head of the lane," admitted Coleman, "but Betting Line does that once in a while and then he knows where the wire is. I've never had a horse that knows where the wire is as much as Betting Line. He just digs right in when he hits the flag poles there and makes sure he's on front at the wire.
"There definitely was a whole lot of favourites that got beat tonight so I wasn't liking that. I knew we were going to have a tough trip coming from the 10-hole and Betting Line, he's a horse that needs to be trained up tight. I trained him hard, but whenever he has a big gap, he's never quite as sharp. So I was worried about the gap in his schedule, but we got it done."
Division leader Betting Line's went four-for-four during the regular OSS season, but has also taken on Grand Circuit foes scoring victories in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, North America Cup, Carl Milstein Memorial, Battle of the Brandywine, Simcoe Stakes, and most recently, the Little Brown Jug. He boasts a 14-for-15 sophomore record and is the leading money-earner in Canada this year with a bankroll of nearly $1.7 million.
"It's been a great ride," said Miller. "He's given me a lot of thrills and he shows up every time. I can't be more happy with him. He's just a very good horse."
"I've got to say thank you to Jonathan Drury; he drove the horse through the eliminations of the OSS," noted Coleman. "He did a great job every time he sat behind him and now Dave did a great job in the final. Both of them handled the horse perfectly for me all season."
Bred by the New Jersey-based Fair Winds Farm Inc., the Bettors Delight-Heathers Western colt was a $60,000 yearling purchase from the Harrisburg Sale and he has amassed more than $2.2 million lifetime. Coleman shares ownership of Betting Line as part of the West Wins Stable with Ross Warriner of Burlington, Ont., along with their partners Christine Calhoun of Chatham, Ont., and Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont.
Betting Line will head to the Breeders Crown next, with plans to race in stakes events at Dover Downs before retiring to stand at Hanover Shoe Farms.
Betting Line paid $2.40 to win.
State Treasurer Retirement Pace
Canada's reigning Horse of the Year State Treasurer opened the stakes-filled card by leading the post parade for this week's $34,000 Preferred Pace. The Dr. Ian Moore trainee was also honoured in a blanket presentation, marking his official retirement, which was announced this week. He will stand stud at Seelster Farms in Lucan, Ont., starting with the 2017 breeding season.
In the State Treasurer Retirement Pace, driver Sylvain Filion launched Evenin Of Pleasure from the pocket in the final eighth of the mile to prevail in 1:49.3 over even-money favourite Ellis Park.
The 8-5 second choice established the early lead from post five before last week's winner, Ellis Park (Randy Waples), looped to the lead after a :26.3 first quarter and reached the half in :54.2 and then three-quarters in 1:22.3. However, Evenin Of Pleasure overpowered the front-runner in the stretch with a :26.4 final frame, with Nickle Bag (Trevor Henry) advancing first-over to finish third.
Richard Moreau trains the six-year-old son of Dragon Again and Armbro Amour, who is approaching the $750,000 mark in career earnings, for owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc. of Montreal, Que.
Evenin Of Pleasure paid $5.30 to win.
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Mohawk Racetrack