Even before his three-year-old pacing geldings Robert Hill and J Js Delivery swept the Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series divisions at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, trainer Dave Menary was having a pretty amazing weekend.
"I’m pretty pumped. I wasn’t at the races tonight myself. I was watching them at home on TV, because yesterday morning I had a daughter born,” explained the rural Cambridge, Ont. resident. “Julie and I, my fiancé, we had a beautiful baby girl born yesterday morning. We just come home from the hospital tonight.”
As if in celebration of daughter Mikayla’s birth, the Menary Stable had an extraordinary evening at Mohawk. In addition to sweeping the Gold divisions, the trainer captured an overnight event and posted three seconds and one third.
“I had seven in to go, including three colts in the Sires Stakes, and it couldn’t have gone any better,” said the trainer. “Everything we raced tonight has been unbelievable.”
Adding another touch of the extraordinary to the evening was the fact that James MacDonald was in the race bike behind both of Menary’s Gold Series winners, just one night after being involved in an accident at Mohawk that sent him to the hospital for stitches in his arm.
In the first $105,000 Gold test, MacDonald and Robert Hill started from post six and were sitting seventh when Shoe Shine reached the opening quarter in :26.4. At the :54.1 half and 1:22.1 three-quarters clocked by fan favourite Drachan Hanover, Robert Hill was still at the back of the pack, although MacDonald had moved him into the outer lane.
At the top of the stretch, Drachan Hanover still had a short lead and another Menary other starter, Sportsmanship, looked poised for victory, but when MacDonald gave Robert Hill a clear look at the wire the gelding powered down the stretch to a one and three-quarter length victory in a personal-best 1:51.1. Sportsmanship finished second, giving Menary a one-two sweep, and Thinkofagameplan rounded out the top three.
“Last week I think Sportsmanship went the mile of his life, and tonight when they come up to the head of the stretch I was cheering for him, but then all of sudden, when he was getting conquered it was by my other horse, so I had to change cheering,” said Menary. “I had to jump off one bandwagon and get on the other bandwagon.”
Menary conditions Jeremes Jet son Robert Hill for Tom Hill of Lancashire, Great Britain and Sportswriter son Sportsmanship for Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown, Ont., Denis Breton of Welland, Ont., Thomas Kyron of Toronto, Ont., and Parkinson Farms of Lucan, Ont.
In the second Gold division, MacDonald and J Js Delivery also lined up at post six, but the Guelph, Ont. resident hustled the Jeremes Jet son away from the starting gate, reaching the opening quarter in :26.1. The duo yielded to Go Daddy Go through the :53.2 half, but were back out and powering toward the front at the 1:21.1 three-quarters.
J Js Delivery turned for home with a narrow lead and had to battle all the way down the stretch to secure the victory, keeping a neck in front of Go Daddy Go and Star Cover. The 1:49.4 clocking was a personal best for J Js Delivery, who had posted one second and one third in the first two Gold legs.
Bob Hamather of Exeter, Ont. owns J Js Delivery, who is a half-brother to $1.1 million winner Secrets Nephew.
“It’s been a non-sleep week. I’m lucky I have a good staff around me,” said Menary. “Everything has just fallen into place, partly because of luck, partly because of the people, but mostly because of the horses.”
Joining J Js Delivery in the winner’s circle was lucky “Be A Winner” contestant Nick Toltl, who had his photo taken with the gelding and driver MacDonald. In addition, Toltl will be back at Mohawk for the Sept. 26 Grassroots Championships enjoying dinner for four and a $100 wagering voucher.
In regular racing action, Shamballa earned his third straight win in the $34,000 Preferred Pace -- and fifth in his last six starts -- for the Rick Zeron Stables of Oakville, Ont. and Tao Racing LLC of Pompano Beach, Florida. Zeron guided the five-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding to the 1:49.4 victory over Evenin Of Pleasure and Piston Broke.
The Ontario-sired three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will make their fourth Gold Series start at Georgian Downs on August 25.
Next on Mohawk Racetrack’s active Ontario Sires Stakes calendar are six Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old trotting colts on Tuesday, July 28. The colts will battle in Races 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 10 on Tuesday’s program, which kids off at 7:25 p.m.
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Mohawk Racetrack.
(With files from OSS)