Gois Comments On Zooka

Published: October 19, 2009 11:43 am EDT

Zooka, the world’s fastest free-legged pacer, surfaced this morning in the first of five qualifiers at Mohawk Racetrack and charted his first mile at his old stomping grounds since being sold from Ben Wallace’s barn in January


Now trained and driven by Ondrej Gois of Rockwood, Ont., the seven-year-old gelding put in a solid qualifying effort, finishing second to Jody Jamieson and Mcapulco. He was clocked in 1:57.4.

The rangy son of Astreos, who became the first free-legged pacer to break the 1:50 barrier when he paced a 1:49.3 mile at Kawartha Downs in July, 2007, has earned more than $1.3 million over the course of a 134-start career. A graduate of the Ontario Sires Stakes program, Zooka was more recently a stalwart in the Open ranks on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit, going head-to-head with the likes of Ramegade Bruiser, Tigerama, and Secrets Nephew.

Since being sold in the January Select Sale for $152,000 to the Crissmans of Camden, Delaware, however, Zooka has not made a pari-mutuel start. He was a vet scratch from an invitational event at the Meadowlands at the end of January, and didn’t see a starting gate again until May, when he qualified at Chester Racetrack in Pennsylvania. Zooka would qualify twice more in May and June, move from the tutelage of Charles Crissman to Ken Rucker, then disappear again. Now he is back in Ontario, traversing the familiar Campbellville oval where he enjoyed so many of his career triumphs.

“I hope he’ll be back soon,” said Gois, who only took over conditioning the gelding two weeks ago. “He qualified good. I thought he might win, but he went a good mile. He has had 10 months off so I won’t put him straight back in Open competition; that will be too fast for him right away. He will probably race a couple of times in London first, then I hope he’ll be ready to take on winter racing at Woodbine.

“He’s seven and has over 100 starts, so there is some wear and tear, but he seems healthy now and his gait is as good as ever.”

Other qualifying winners in this morning’s session at Mohawk included Hour Lavec (1:59.4, driven by Steve Condren for trainer Kevin O’Reilly), Broadies Song (1:59.2, Rick Zeron/Rick Zeron), Mannerheim (2:00.1, Riina Rekila/Riina Rekila), and Superfast Stuart (1:58.4, Shane Weber/Shane Weber).

To view the charted harness racing results from this morning's qualifying session at Mohawk, click here.