The $651,000 Maple Leaf Trot and $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby will be the co-main events for this Saturday’s $1.7 million card at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
The rich events are joined by the $191,200 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings and the $169,183 Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old trotters to make up the stakes portion of a 13-race card.
The $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby will feature the Canadian debut of Lazarus N.
‘The Wonder from Down Under’ has drawn post-two in the 10-horse field and enters off a stunning victory in his North American debut on August 10 at Hoosier Park.
Lazarus N was driven aggressively by Yannick Gingras from an outside post in his U.S. debut, powering on the front to a 1:48.4 victory. The inside starting spot allows Gingras to have more options and he is considering them all heading into the Canadian Pacing Derby.
“I think (Lazarus N) loves to chase horses down,” said Gingras to Sky Sports Radio earlier this week. “I don’t have nothing against maybe somehow working a second-over trip or even coming first-over with him if the fractions are hot at the front, I’m not against that.
“This is a new race and there will be a different strategy.”
Lazarus N is trained by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter for Taylor Made Stallions, who purchased the Down Under champion earlier this year. The son of Bettors Delight has won 36 of 46 starts and accumulated $2.8 million in earnings.
The Canadian Pacing Derby did not require eliminations with 10 horses entering, forcing Takter to change his plans and train Lazarus at his farm in New Jersey.
“I stretched him out a little bit 1:51.3 mile here at my farm last Wednesday (August 22),” said Takter on Tuesday. “He felt really nice and I was very happy with how he felt and couldn’t be happier.”
Seven-year-old Mcwicked is pegged as Lazarus N’s biggest challenger and will start one spot over in post-three for driver David Miller and trainer Casie Coleman.
A triple-millionaire, Mcwicked finished a hard-closing third on August 10 at Hoosier and joins Lazarus as the horses off the longest going into the Pacing Derby.
The Coleman trainee has won six of 10 starts this season and is a 28-time winner during his career.
The Canadian Pacing Derby field also includes Split The House (PP1, Brett Miller), last year’s Breeders Crown champion, Sintra (PP8, Jody Jamieson), last year’s Pacing Derby champion, and three starters from the Ron Burke barn.
Rockin Ron (PP4, Louis Philippe Roy), Filibuster Hanover (PP5, Tim Tetrick) and All Bets Off (PP6, Matt Kakaley) make up the three-headed monster for harness racing’s leading trainer.
The $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby has been carded as Race 8 and is set for a 9:45 p.m. post time. A special half-hour broadcast of the Canadian Pacing Derby will air on TSN GO from 9:30-10 p.m.
The $651,000 Maple Leaf Trot features one of the deepest fields in recent history.
The 10-horse field for the Maple Leaf Trot consists of five-winners of more than $2 million in career earnings and six-winners of more than $1 million.
Defending champion Hannelore Hanover (PP7, Gingras) will be looking to bounce back from a third-place finish in her elimination to try and retain her crowd. The Burke-trained six-year-old mare is on a three-race losing streak heading into the final.
Ariana G (PP4, David Miller) offers trainer Takter a legit chance at a sweep of Saturday’s co-main events, as the four-year-old mare teamed up with driver David Miller for the first-time last weekend to win her elimination in 1:52.4.
A World Champion at three, Ariana G has earned $2.3 million during her career and has won seven of eight career starts at Mohawk Park.
Marion Marauder (PP3, Scott Zeron), the 2016 Trotting Triple Crown champion, is riding plenty of momentum into the final. The five-year-old won his elimination in 1:53.1 and surpassed $3 million in career earnings with the winner’s share of the $40,000 purse.
Trained by Mike Keeling, Marion Marauder has won five of eight starts this season and will enter Saturday’s contest having won four of his last five.
“"He's just fun to race and fun to watch,” said Keeling following last Saturday’s elimination. “He doesn't have particular style…You just kind of watch and go 'how does he get this done' but him and Scott (Zeron) just get along so well.
It's been a great ride and I hope we get to keep going."
The Maple Leaf Trot has been carded as Race 10 and is set for a 10:35 p.m. post time.
Saturday’s card also features the $169,183 Simcoe Stakes for three-year-old trotters. The Grand Circuit event has attracted a field of 11 and all starters are eligible to the Canadian Trotting Classic eliminations on September 8.
The Simcoe Stakes is carded as Race 5.
The $191,200 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will feature two divisions Saturday, which have been carded as Races 3 and 9.
Fans attending Saturday’s races will receive a special Lazarus N poster to commemorate his visit to Woodbine Mohawk Park. Several of the posters will have a special marking for the lucky poster-holders to have it signed by the connections of ‘The Wonder from Down Under’.
Lazarus N rally towels will also be distributed during the evening.
The great entertainment for fans on Saturday will not be limited to the 13 races contested.
The Canadian Cowgirls drill team, consisting of 28 women and 28 horses, will perform following the third-race in front of the grandstand.
Canadian country recording artist Elyse Saunders will sing the Canadian national anthem prior to the first-race. She will also be performing for fans in between races until 11 p.m.
For more information about Saturday’s Canadian Pacing Derby and Maple Leaf Trot, visit www.WoodbineMohawkPark.com.
Post time for Saturday’s $1.7 million card is 7:10 p.m. To view the entries and an early-program for Saturday's card, click here.
(Woodbine Mohawk Park)