The finals are now set for the Metro Pace and Shes A Great Lady after a wild elimination night Saturday (August 27) at Mohawk Racetrack.
A total of three $40,000 Metro Pace and two $35,000 Shes A Great Lady eliminations were contested with some major longshots putting an interesting spin on the action.
The Metro Pace eliminations for pacing colts and geldings started with a bang, as Windsong Napoleon pulled off a 54-1 gate-to-wire upset.
A son of Art Major, Windsong Napoleon was blasted to the front by driver Phil Hudon to post an opening quarter of :27.1. The Carl Jamieson trainee marched the field by the half in :56 and the three-quarter pole in 1:24.3.
In the stretch, Windsong Napoleon drifted out a lane and was confronted by Calvin K, who shot up the rail after sitting the two-hole. The rookie pacing colts went toe-to-toe, but Windsong Napoleon had no quit in him and fought off Calvin K to win by a neck in 1:51.3.
“I got good fractions and everything worked out,” said Hudon post-race. “He kicked in down the lane, I thought [Calvin K] was getting up the inside and he dug back in.”
Classic Pro finished third, while Pointomygranson was fourth.
Owned by Jamieson, Thomas Kyron and Doug Good, Windsong Napoleon now has three wins in eight starts. The Art Major colt was coming into the Metro elimination off a disappointing seventh in the Nassagaweya, but Hudon explained the reason for the poor effort.
“Last week, I definitely shut his air off by letting [Calvin K] go and tonight they put a choke plate on him. I didn’t rev him up as much early and he was a lot calmer.”
Windsong Napoleon now has $63,004 earned heading into next week’s final. A $2 win ticket on the Art Major colt returned $110.40.
The second elimination saw another fantastic stretch duel, but this time it was the favourites battling it out. Jimmy Takter trainee Ocean Colony defeated Ideal Wheel by a head in a national season’s best 1:50.1.
Driven by Yannick Gingras, Ocean Colony left from post two and quickly grabbed command. Following an opening quarter of :27, Ideal Wheel made his way to the front after being parked around the first turn.
The tempo was hot, as Ideal Wheel posted middle-half fractions of :54.4 and 1:22.4.
In the stretch, Ocean Colony was angled to the outside by Gingras and battled stride for stride with a gritty Ideal Wheel, but ultimately got by for the impressive victory. Bobcat Bound finished third, while fourth went to Darlings Dragon.
Saturday’s Metro elimination was the first time Ocean Colony had a different driver other than Brett Miller.
“I was really impressed,” said Gingras. “Brett told me nothing but good things about him. He said they brought him along slowly and he was really good at Tioga last week and Jimmy told me the same thing.”
A $110,000 purchase at last year’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Ocean Colony is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Hatfield Stables, Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband. The son of Somebeachsomewhere now has two wins in five starts and $38,079 earned.
Ocean Colony paid $6.60 to win.
The final elimination was a throw down with Beyond Delight scoring a 20-1 upset victory.
Bettors Dream fired out from post eight to post an opening quarter of :26.4. Some Attitude, who was parked around the first turn, was pushed to the front by David Miller and cleared just before reaching the half in :55.1.
Blood Line, the 8-5 favourite, was angled out from third by Gingras to come first up around the far turn. The public’s choice cleared to the front and led by two lengths at the three-quarter pole in 1:22.3. Meanwhile, Sylvain Filion was able to get Beyond Delight off the rail on the far turn and sat fifth turning for home.
In the stretch, Beyond Delight began pacing up a storm when fed open racetrack. The Tony O’Sullivan trainee powered by Blood Line to defeat him by three lengths in 1:51.
The top two finishers were clear at the wire, but the same could not be said for a trio of horses seeking third. Southwind General shot up the rail to grab third just ahead of Bettors Dream and R J P. However, a pair of inquires were posted involving the three horses.
Southwind General was disqualified from third and placed last for going inside three pylons in the stretch. The judges also looked at contact between Bettors Dream and R J P at the wire, but ruled there was no interference. Therefore, Bettors Dream was vaulted up to third and qualified for the final.
The lengthy review may have stolen some thunder from Beyond Delight, who picked the perfect time to break his maiden. Following the race, O’Sullivan discussed the recent development of Beyond Delight into a Grand Circuit contender.
“He was okay training down and then we kind of thought he would be a racehorse, but in the last three weeks he has just blossomed,” said O’Sullivan. “We sent him down to Tioga a couple weeks ago and he raced really well, took a shot at the Nassagaweya based on that and he actually got locked in last week and was very good.
“We kind of had a little bit of confidence coming in, but racing against these type of colts that are more accomplished, if he races good and makes the final it’s great, but to race the way he did is really satisfying.”
Beyond Delight was a $50,000 purchase at last year’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale and is owned by Jeffrey & Michael Snyder and Four Friends Racing Stable LLC. The son of Bettors Delight now has $40,068 earned through eight starts.
The O’Sullivan trainee paid $43.30 to win.
Similar to the Metro Pace, the Shes A Great Lady eliminations started off with a major upset.
Candlelight Dinner was the talk of the town heading into the ‘Great Lady’ eliminations, but an off night from the pacing filly allowed Thats The Ticket to strike for a 58-1 upset.
Driven by Sylvain Filion, Thats The Ticket got away fifth and sat in that spot along the rail until just before the three-quarter pole. Candlelight Dinner got away third, but made a quick brush to the lead after an opening quarter of :28.1.
The 1-9 favourite led the field to the half in :56.2 and then paced a big :27.1 third-quarter to lead the field to the top of the lane. In the stretch, Candlelight Dinner surrendered the lead to Happy Hannah, who enjoyed a two-hole trip.
Happy Hannah appeared to have a victory in her sights, but Thats The Ticket burst onto the scene late and surged by on the far outside to win by half a length in 1:52.
World Apart finished third, while Blameitonthenight was fourth. Candlelight Dinner faded back to finish fifth, but did qualify for the final.
Thats The Ticket, who was a $60,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchased, is trained by Chris Ryder for owners Craig Henderson, Robert Mondillo and Lawrence Minowitz.
The daughter of Roll With Joe was winless in five starts coming into the Shes A Great Lady elimination. Last week, Thats The Ticket was fifth in a division of the Eternal Camnation, but paced home in :26.3. Despite that closing effort, Ryder wasn’t satisfied in his filly heading into Saturday’s contest.
“She paced home in :26 I know, but she’s been having trouble getting around the last turn,” said Ryder. “Even tonight, Sylvain said she wasn’t perfect, but obviously better.
“Being New York bred we went to the half-mile tracks and she couldn’t get around the turns at all and then at Vernon she paced in :52...so that’s why we came here.”
Thats The Ticket now has $44,579 earned. A $2 win ticket on the Ryder trainee returned $119.
The second elimination didn’t have nearly the same fireworks, as even-money favourite Idyllic Beach prevailed in 1:51.1.
The Jimmy Takter-trained filly was unhurried at the start by driver Gingras and found an early seat in sixth. Several fillies clashed near the front in the early going, while Gingras was able to pick up the cover of first over challenger Agent Q heading into the far turn.
Agent Q became the new leader on the turn and reached the three-quarter pole in 1:23.4. In the stretch, Idyllic Beach came off cover and hooked up with Agent Q for a battle, ultimately getting up to win by three-quarters of a length.
Awash and Everyones Watching finished third and fourth, respectively. The final spot to the Shes A Great Lady final was secured by Obvious Blue Chip.
A daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, Idyllic Beach entered Saturday’s elimination with three wins in four starts.
“Just every start she is getting stronger and stronger,” said Gingras. “Early on we were a little bit worried about her getting a little too hot, but now she’s two fingers and drives real nice.”
Idyllic Beach is the first foal out of 2010 Shes A Great Lady champion Idyllic.
A $100,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase, Idyllic Beach is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc. and Marvin Katz. She now has $102,762 in earnings through five starts.
Idyllic Beach paid $4.10 to win.
Following Saturday’s eliminations, the finals of the $661,000 Metro Pace and $427,000 Shes A Great Lady were drawn. The fourth-place finisher to draw into the Metro final was Darlings Dragon. The $616,000 Canadian Pacing Derby was also drawn on Saturday evening. The fields for next week’s finals are listed below.
The action-packed elimination night started off with Jonathan Drury celebrating a career milestone. The 27-year-old reinsman earned his 1,000th driving win in the opener as he guided the Carmen Auciello-trained trotter Cash For Gold ($4) to a 1:53.1 half-length victory over White Becomes Her.
Drury later started the quest towards his next milestone winning the 11th race finale with the Richard Moreau-trained pacer Poisonous ($12.80) and putting his own seasonal earnings over the $2 million mark for the second straight year.
$661,000 Metro Pace
1. Beyond Delight
2. Darlings Dragon
3. Windsong Napoleon
4. Ocean Colony
5. Calvin K
6. Bobcat Bound
7. Classic Pro
8. Ideal Wheel
9. Blood Line
10. Bettors Dream
$427,000 Shes A Great Lady
1. Candlelight Dinner
2. Thats The Ticket
3. World Apart
4. Idyllic Beach
5. Everyones Watching
6. Agent Q
8. Obvious Blue Chip
10. Happy Hannah
$616,000 Canadian Pacing Derby
1. Wiggle It Jiggleit
2. Nickle Bag
3. State Treasurer
5. Rockin In Heaven
6. Nirvana Seelster
7. All Bets Off
8. Always B Miki
9. Dealt A Winner
10. Evenin Of Pleasure
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Mohawk Racetrack.
(With files from WEG)