Rockin Ron and driver Yannick Gingras established a new track and Canadian record in winning the 38th edition of the $244,000 Confederation Cup on Sunday night (May 15) at Flamboro Downs.
The streaking Ron Burke trainee Rockin Ron held off reigning U.S. Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 3-5 favoured second tier starter, in 1:50.1 to set a new record for older pacers on a half-mile track.
Burke, trainer of 2015 champion All Bets Off with three entrants in this year's edition, has set a new track record in the Confederation Cup for the second year that it has been contested as a race for four-year-olds. Last year, All Bets Off won his elimination in what was a track record 1:50.4 before returning to take the final, and later won the Prix D'Ete in 1:50.3 at Hippodrome 3R for a share of the former Canadian record.
Gingras left with Rockin Ron from post four as he indicated he would in a pre-race interview on the Flamboro Downs broadcast. Rockin In Heaven (Trevor Henry) also left from post seven and cleared to command heading to the first turn. However, Rockin Rock retook the lead into a :26.2 first quarter.
As the 4-5 second wagering choice led the field off the turn in front of the grandstand, his stablemate My Hero Ron (Matt Kakaley) tipped first over from fourth with Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) following his cover.
Rockin Ron raced past the half in :55.3 and headed to three-quarters in 1:23.3 while Teague fired Wiggle It Jiggleit three-wide down the backstretch to take over second-place.
Wiggle It Jiggleit continued to chase the leader as they turned for home, but Rockin Ron maintained a one-length advantage down the stretch as he sprinted home in :26.3 to score the 1:50.1 triumph, equalling his lifetime mark that he took at Miami Valley Raceway in his last start. Rodeo Romeo (Brett Miller) finished two and a half lengths behind in third off a three-hole trip.
The finish order was completed by Rockin In Heaven, National Seelster (Sylvain Filion), Burke trainees Rock N Roll World (James MacDonald) and My Hero Ron, Drachan Hanover (Randy Waples) and Americanprimetime (Chris Christoforou).
After the race, Gingras admitted that he was concerned that the front-end looked tiring, but opted to stick with his strategy after speaking with Burke.
"He pumped this horse up, but he sure put up," said Gingras in a post-race interview. "He went a big mile, and at the wire, he was just starting to get going. If he went around again, he was going to win anyway. I never touched him with the whip and I was ultra-impressed by him.
"I was able to cross right over, but :26.2 and :55 are no easy fractions. And 1:23.3 and then he had :26 on the end of it to come home, so you've got to give the credit to the horse, he put in a big performance."
Rockin Ron has now won all 11 of his starts racing for the Burke stable, including 10 this year. The four-year-old Real Desire gelding is owned by Burke Racing LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Rtc Stables Inc.
Prior to the race, Burke noted that the Confederation Cup would be a good test for Rockin Ron to decide what direction he takes with the pacer.
"That's very impressive -- :26.3 tonight was a very good quarter and Yannick really thought that he had more left so this is another step in the right direction and we'll try to figure out where we go from here," said Burke after the victory, noting that Rockin Ron is scheduled to compete in next Saturday's Graduate Series.
Sunday's action-packed undercard was filled with many Preferred events.
Woggy Rocks ($5.10) and J Harris won the $15,000 Preferred 2 Pace for horses and geldings in front-end fashion, scoring in 1:54.1 by one and a half length over Senior Market and Saulsbrook Peach. Jonah Moase trains the five-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover, who has won back-to-back Preferred starts on the front end, for Mikaela Lustic.
Driver Trevor Henry and trainer Richard Moreau teamed up to win the other Preferred 2s.
Lucky Cocktail ($6.40) retook the lead from eventual third-place finisher Duncs Diamond at the quarter-pole in the distaff pacing event and went on to win by three and three-quarter lengths in 1:54.3. Pinky Tuscadero rallied off cover to finish second. The four-year-old Camluck mare is an 11-time winner already this year and has earned two Preferred wins in a row since being claimed by Bruno Lepage in late-April.
Big Rich ($4.10) dominated the trotting division, going wire-to-wire to win by three and a half lengths in 1:57.1. The four-year-old Donato Hanover gelding was followed by Lexis D J, with first over Call Me Richard finishing third. Big Rich is owned by Frank Spagnolo and 9099 3833 Quebec Inc.
Preferred 3 winners on the card included Bradley Pittock's trotting gelding Spartan Victory (Ryan Holliday, $3.20) in 1:59, the Moreau-trained pacing mare Jabas Luck (Alfie Carroll, $3.80) in 1:57.3 for owner Don Beanland, and pacing gelding Crown Isle (Yannick Gingras, $4.40) in 1:56 off the claim for trainer Joe Pereira and Allard Racing.
A pair of Alliance Spring Series for $12,000 claiming pacers also wrapped up during Sunday night's program. The Isabelle Darveau-trained Jolted and driver/co-owner Robert Shepherd wore down favourite Attaboyaron and prevailed in a four-across finish for a 10-1 upset in the $14,600 final for male pacers, while Holiday Romance ($6.80) made a power move past the half to take the lead and went on to win the $13,600 fillies and mares final in 1:57.3. Gingras drove the sophomore filly for trainer/owner Sheldon Rose.
To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Flamboro Downs.