It was a magical start to Mohawk Racetrack's Fireworks and Family Fun Night for trainer Richard 'Nifty' Norman and company as the popular three-year-old trotting filly Magic Presto was an impressive winner in the first of two SBOA Stakes finals featured on the Saturday, May 20 harness racing card.
Driven by Trevor Henry, 1-5 favourite Magic Presto took a new lifetime mark of 1:54.3 in the $130,130 stakes final.
Magic Presto fired off the gate from post three with fellow elimination winner Mrstery Bear (Billy Davis Jr.) breaking stride while leaving just to her outside. The 1-5 favourite crossed in front of insider Stuck In My Spanks (James MacDonald) and led to the first quarter in :28.1 with 82-1 outsider Holiday Promise (Jody Jamieson) parked and pressing.
Magic Presto gave way to Holiday Promise and then quickly retook the lead on the backside. She carved out middle splits of :57.4 and 1:27.1 with Gravitator (Louis-Philippe Roy) advancing first-over from fourth and Royal Witch (Sylvain Filion) tracking her cover.
Henry pulled the plugs on Magic Presto turning for home and the filly extended her lead to nearly three lengths down the stretch to shave two-fifths of a second off her lifetime mark. Gravitator continued to chase the favourite down the lane and finished second while Royal Witch followed in third.
"I think she's a little sharper this week, drove a little straighter, Trevor said," noted Norman in a post-race interview. "It was kind of strange race with the wind, but she was very good.
"She's very solid. I don't think she's ever made a break, so she's good like that."
Norman indicated that the Kadabra-In The Mean Time filly will compete in Grand Circuit events and the Ontario Sires Stakes, with the first OSS Gold bringing her back to Mohawk on June 8.
Magic Presto is owned by Melvin Hartman, breeder Herb Liverman, David McDuffee and Little E LLC. With Norman training, Hartman, Liverman and McDuffee were also partners on 2013 SBOA Stakes winner Bee A Magician, who went on to earn over $4.1 million in purses before retiring earlier this year.
"We're trying to follow big footsteps there. She was a fantastic horse, obviously the best horse I've ever had and probably ever will have," said Norman of Bee A Magician. "She's done everything perfectly, of course, and she went and got in foal straight away [to Muscle Hill]. She's going to move on to have another career. It's been a lot of fun, but now we look forward to train her babies maybe."
As for Magic Presto, she has won half of her 12 career starts (two-for-three this year) while banking $472,054.
"This is a nice filly too," added Norman. "We're trying to follow a pattern there, but it depends on how things go. So far, so good."
Fade was overshadowed by her favoured stablemate Windy Sport in the second $132,130 SBOA Stakes final for three-year-old pacing fillies, but she came through to post a 10-1 upset with Travis Cullen catch-driving for trainer Casie Coleman.
Cullen secured a two-hole trip for Fade behind 1-5 favourite Windy Sport (Louis-Philippe Roy), who led through fractions of :26.4, :57 and 1:26.1 with Dancing Shadows K (Trevor Henry) applying first-over pressure and Soiree Seelster (Sylvain Filion) poised to fan three-wide off cover into the stretch after recovering from a break behind the gate.
Down the lane, Fade shot through along the pylons to overtake Windy Sport, who ended up third as Soiree Seelster closed outside to steal the runner-up honours. Fade prevailed by a neck in a career-best 1:53.1 clocking, taking two-fifths of a second off her lifetime mark that she set in her elimination.
Overlooked by the betting public with Windy Sport garnering all the attention after that filly's fast 1:51.3 elim win, Fade paid $22.10 for the upset.
"When we trained both fillies down, I always thought Fade was the better filly," said Coleman, who also co-owns both fillies with West Wins Stable and Calhoun Racing Ltd. "Obviously, last week 'Windy' was just a creature in :51 with the plugs in. But I blame it on myself with 'Windy' tonight. She went out to warm up a little bit late and I didn't put the ear hood on her. She's a very hot filly and I think she might have tied up on us, especially in this wind and with the crowd. She was really, really worked up in paddock tonight."
Fade earned her third career win from 12 starts (two-for-four this year) and the lion's share of the purse boosted her bankroll to $225,752. It was a big WEG Circuit win for Cullen, who drove the Shadow Play-Breathe filly for the first time.
"He did a great job," said Coleman of Cullen. "Obviously, 'Windy' was 1-5, and he got the two-hole trip behind her and he couldn't have drove her better. He gave her a perfect, ground-saving trip and got her up in time for the money."
Both Fade, last year's OSS Super Final runner-up, and Windy Sport will have a week off before heading to their first Gold leg of the season on June 1 at Mohawk. Coleman also noted that both fillies have paid into the Fan Hanover.
The weekly $34,000 Preferred Pace went to the class-climbing Fool Me Once, who earned his third win in a row back on the WEG Circuit for driver Doug McNair, trainer Richard Moreau and local owner Brad Grant. The seven-year-old Art Major-Fool That I Am pacer scored in front-end fashion in 1:50.4 as the even-money favourite, holding off last-closers Ellis Park (Randy Waples) and Our Sky Major N (Louis-Philippe Roy). The 35-time career winner is closing in on the million-dollar earnings mark.
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Mohawk Racetrack.