Bee A Magician joined elite company during Saturday's stakes card at Mohawk Racetrack as she became the first mare to win the $680,000 Maple Leaf Trot since the great Peaceful Way accomplished the feat nine years ago.
Brian Sears drove the five-year-old Kadabra mare Bee A Magician to her 40th career win for trainer Richard 'Nifty' Norman and owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee.
As part of the evening's retirement tribute to San Pail, the three-time Maple Leaf Trot champion led the post parade for the 64th edition of the trotting classic.
When the talented field of 10 trotters were released from the gate, JL Cruze (John Campbell), a $45,000 supplemental entry, fired away to a three-length lead past the quarter in :26.4 and into the backstretch. Campbell then rated a second panel, reaching the half in :55.3. Meanwhile, 6-5 favourite Resolve (Ake Svanstedt), another supplemental entry and an elimination winner, followed in second with Bee A Magician third and elimination winner Natural Herbie (Verlin Yoder) fourth.
With Flanagan Memory (Tim Tetrick) moving out from mid-pack, Resolve pulled the pocket and Bee A Magician followed suit. Resolve confronted JL Cruze as they raced by three-quarters in 1:24.1 and took over command into the stretch with Bee A Magician chasing. Resolve and Bee A Magician battled down the lane, with the mare gaining the upper hand as the wire approached. Bee A Magician prevailed in 1:52.3 by half a length over Resolve while Natural Herbie finished third.
"We were following two of the best horses and the trip worked out great," said Sears, who won his first Maple Leaf Trot in 2008 with Arch Madness. "Ake's horse raced super and she beat a stellar field tonight. I'm very proud of her, no doubt about it."
"It's a once and a lifetime opportunity [to train a horse like this]," said Norman. "I'm really happy for the owners, they're a bunch of great guys. She's just a champion and I'm lucky to have her."
The career winner of $3.6 million is scheduled to tackle the boys again, representing Canada in the $1 million International Trot on Oct. 10 at Yonkers Raceway in New York City.
Pinkman Triumphs In Canadian Trotting Classic
Hambletonian champion Pinkman added Canada's richest trotting event to his resume, winning the 40th edition of the $700,000 Canadian Trotting Classic on Saturday for trainer Jimmy Takter.
Yannick Gingras pulled 3-5 favourite Pinkman from the pocket after the :27.3 first quarter and overtook the Ron Burke-trained Crazy Wow (Tim Tetrick), who had made the lead from post eight into the first turn. Pinkman then led the field past the half in :56.2 and three-quarters in 1:25.1 with the barefoot The Bank (Dave Miller) parked from post 10 and advancing up to his outside. As they headed into the stretch, Crazy Wow swung outside the top Takter trainees, but Pinkman prevailed over that challenger to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.3.
"I feel great," said Gingras after his third stakes victory of the night. "I had some power coming into the night and just hoping the horses showed up and all three of them certainly did."
The Explosive Matter gelding is owned by Takter's wife Christina, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman, who also enjoyed a big night as part of the winning connections of Maple Leaf Trot champion Bee A Magician.
In addition to Pinkman's victory, Takter trainees finished finished third through fifth with Uncle Lasse (Brian Sears), The Bank and French Laundry (Takter) rounding out the payees.
"We campaigned four horses in this race and I thought all four raced tremendous. My job is to try to get the most out of the cake I can and we almost got most of it here," said Takter, adding "Yannick is the cookie monster, I try to keep up with him."
Pinkman's victory gave Gingras and Takter back-to-back wins in the Canadian Trotting Classic following up Father Patrick's 2014 triumph. Owner John Fielding was also a part of the Father Patrick Stable.
"The whole game is fantastic, we have so much fun with it and this horse is no exception," said Fielding. "I'm fortunate to have my brother here and my wife and my family, and of course, Jimmy and Christina and the partners with us. It's a great ride and we have a lot of fun with it. Thankfully, I don't have to do this as a business, but it is a lot of fun just being apart of this game."
Pinkman, who is now 10-for-14 with over $1.5 million in earnings on the year, is expected to race next in the Kentucky Futurity at The Red Mile.
Mission Brief Dominates In Elegantimage
Mission Brief turned in another dominating performance, drawing away for her sophomore trotting filly foes to win the $404,000 Elegantimage Stakes.
The millionaire trotting filly was the overwhelming 1-9 favourite after a 15-length romp in her 1:54.1 elimination over a sloppy track last weekend and she didn't disappoint her backers in tonight's rich final.
Driver Yannick Gingras made his move aboard the Muscle Hill miss after a :26.4 action-packed first quarter. Muscle Baby Doll (Doug McNair) fired to the lead early keeping Wild Honey (John Campbell) parked out through the sizzling first quarter while insider Elegant Serenity (Roger Mayotte) secured the pocket trip and Danielle Hall (Jody Jamieson) settled in behind. Gingras then sent Mission Brief three-wide around the parked Wild Honey and cleared to command at the half in :55.2. She then began to open up on the way to three-quarters in 1:23.3 and cruised home to win by five and a half lengths in 1:52.4. The determined Wild Honey pursued and came on for second-place while Elegant Serenity finished third in the stakes race named for her dam.
"She's was amazing tonight," said Gingras. "I didn't even start her up, the plugs are still in. She's just toying with them, she's a different class.
"There was plenty of speed, there was a couple of horses on the outside and tonight she was really relaxed. She drove two-fingers. I was able to put Jody in the hole around the first turn and took control of the race after that."
Mission Brief is owned by the same connections that captured the William Wellwood Memorial with two-year-old trotting colt Southwind Frank earlier this evening.
The win was Mission Brief's seventh in nine seasonal starts and pushed her annual income to $781,847.
Caprice Hill Starts The Celebrations With Peaceful Way Win
As a Standardbred owner, there is no better way to celebrate your birthday than with a big stakes victory. On Saturday night, two-year-old trotting filly Caprice Hill's triumph in the $410,000 Peaceful Way Stakes proved to be a perfect birthday present for her owner Tom Hill.
"It's great to win a big race, especially when it's your birthday," said Hill, who turned 65 years old today.
In the stakes final, Celebrity Evensty (Brett Miller) fired to the lead from post five during a :27.1 first quarter with Could It Be Magic (Wayne Henry) lining up in second and Emoticon Hanover (Sylvain Filion) third. Meanwhile, 4-5 favourite Caprice Hill and Tim Tetrick settled away fourth in the field that was scratched down to nine starters with Ultimate Shopper sick.
Emoticon Hanover made a backstretch brush during the second panel and took over before the half in :56.3. Could It Be Magic then advanced first over with Caprice Hill following her cover.
Emoticon Hanover gave way to the first over pressure of Could It Be Magic past three-quarters in 1:27 while Caprice Hill rallied off cover and opened up down the stretch to earn her fourth straight victory in 1:56.1. Celebrity Eventsy closed at the inside for second-place while Dewdle All Day (Chris Christoforou) finished back in third over Could It Be Magic.
"It worked out great; a second over trip," said Tetrick. "A few of them left, I got in a good spot and followed a nice couple of fillies there. I got led up right to where I needed to be. There was a little race there when Brett kind of shook loose, but my mare shows how good she is and how she wanted to do it and she just gets the job done.
"Luckily, I got a chance to get back on and that was one of my biggest mistakes, picking off her early in the season."
"Yannick [Gingras] drove this filly along and he said when he drove her she was Mission Brief with brains and she's proven [herself] tonight," said Hill. "She's a gift from God."
The daughter of Kadabra was the fourth consecutive Ontario-sired filly to win the Peaceful Way Stakes.
"Kadabra has proven to be as good a sire as any trotting sire in the world," said Hill, who purchased Caprice Hill for $55,000 as a yearling at the Harrisburg Sale on the advice of trainer Tony Alagna.
"I actually went to Hanover to look at their colts and she was the only trotting filly I turned out that day and she just had a presence about her and natural balance in the paddock," said Alagna.
The filly, who now boasts six wins in seven starts and earnings of $377,730, was an early standout training down in Illinois with Alagna's mother Donna.
"She said to me mid-winter 'this is some kind of filly' and around April she said 'she's too good for me to keep here at Balmoral Park, I'm sending her to you.' The first time I sat behind her in the bike, I said this filly is something special."
Southwind Frank Streaks To Wellwood Victory
Two-year-old trotting colt Southwind Frank extended his win streak to seven with a 1:55.4 triumph in the $373,000 William Wellwood Memorial Trot for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke.
Sent postward as the overwhelming 1-9 favourite, Southwind Frank looped early leaver Brooklyn Hill (Dave Miller) past the 28-second opening quarter and carved out middle splits of :57.1 and 1:25.4 en route to the one and a quarter length victory. Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron) tracked the cover of Deep Impact (Steve Condren), who ducked back to the pylons around the final turn, and then rallied home for second-place. Deep Impact finished third while Brooklyn Hill was fourth.
"He's raced good that way [on the front] and there was not that much speed out of the gate so I figured to take control of the race and let him do his thing," said Gingras of his racing strategy. "I knew I had the best horse in the race and my job was just to keep him out of trouble and get him to the wire."
Southwind Frank, a $100,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase, is now eight-for-nine in his career with his bankroll soaring over the half-million dollar mark.
"It makes me think, next year the Hambo, we're going to be in it," said Jerry Silva, who shares ownership of the Muscle Hill colt with Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Our Horse Cents Stables. "We tried this year with Mission Brief against the boys -- we didn't have a boy -- but now we have a real boy, Southwind Frank."
Southwind Frank gave Gingras his third consecutive victory in the Wellwood. The reinsman also won the stakes event with the Burke-trained Habitat last year and the Jimmy Takter stable's Father Patrick in 2013. Gingras and Takter also teamed up to win the Wellwood in 2010 with Father Patrick's brother Pastor Stephen.
Field Set For Milton Stakes
Yagonnakissmeornot and driver Jody Jamieson circled a field of seven pacing mares to win the first of two $35,000 Milton Stakes eliminations in 1:52.4 by a quarter-length over Sandbetweenurtoes (Sylvain Filion) and Katie Said (Brett Miller). Empress Deo (Dave Miller) finished fourth and Anndrovette (Tim Tetrick) was fifth, also advancing to next weekend's final.
Yagonnakissmeornot, the 4-5 favourite, trailed the seven-horse field while Empress Deo took control through a :27.3 first quarter. Anndrovette then swept up from third and took over by the three-eighths mark. The new leader reached the half in :55.4 and raced to three-quarters in 1:24.2 while Katie Said was flushed first up by the advancing Sandbetweenurtoes, with Yagonnakissmeornot following outside from the back of the pack. Katie Said eventually edged by Anndrovette at the top of the stretch, with Sandbetweenurtoes closing quickly and Yagonnakissmeornot sprinting by on the far outside.
"At the half, I was really concerned," admitted Jamieson after the race. "At that point, I was thinking I was just trying to make the final, which I didn't think was going to be that difficult. To win from there, it didn't look good for a bit there. I just swung it wide in the stretch and tried not to be too much on her because she does her own thing. I just tried not to mess it up and she pulled me right to the wire."
The daughter of The Panderosa is trained by Rene Allard and owned by Allard Racing Inc., Yves Sarrazin and Kapildeo Singh.
"She seems to love this track," Jamieson said of this year's Roses Are Red Stakes runner-up. "Rene just brings her up here and she seems to win races. She's a millionaire for a reason."
The second elimination was won by Venus Delight, who ducked inside down the stretch to score in 1:50.4 by three lengths over a from-last Precocious Beauty (Brian Sears) and even-money favourite Lady Shadow (Doug McNair). Colors A Virgin (Chris Christoforou) and Jerseylicious (Dave Miller) will also advance to the final courtesy of their fourth and fifth-place finishes.
Radar Contact (John Campbell) forced American In Paris (Yannick Gingras) to settle in behind her as she sprinted a :26 first quarter and then proceeded to the half in :54.3 with Lady Shadow leading the outer flow. Lady Shadow raced past Radar Contact during the third panel and reached three-quarters in 1:22.4 with Colors A Virgin (Chris Christoforou) left first-up and 8-5 second choice Venus Delight ready to roll from second over. Heading down the stretch, Tetrick maneuvered Venus Delight through inside of horses and she powered home for the victory.
"I've watched [Lady Shadow] a few times and she's [drifted out in the stretch] a few times," said Tetrick. "I was watching Doug and his mare started grabbing the left line so I tried to take the shortest route I could and it worked out."
Venus Delight was making her first start back in Canada since she was disqualified as the winner for causing interference in her Roses Are Red Stakes elimination in June.
"That really sucked, that race did, but it happened and move on," said Tetrick. "Everybody's got big shoulders and luckily they haven't fired me over it yet."
Jeff Bamond Jr. trains the Bettors Delight mare for Bamond Racing LLC.
The field for the $300,000 Milton Stakes is listed below in post position order. The winning connections earned the right to select their posts for the final.
3. Venus Delight
4. Lady Shadow
6. Precocious Beauty
7. Colors A Virgin
9. Empress Deo
10. Katie Said
AE1. American In Paris
Ellis Park Prevails In Preferred Thriller
Third over in sixth-place turning for home, Ellis Park kicked into action down the stretch and sprinted to the wire to win the $34,000 Preferred Pace in a blanket finish during Saturday's stakes undercard.
Driven by Randy Waples, the Brad Maxwell-trained Ellis Park closed in :27.3 to prevail by a quarter-length in 1:51.4 over 9-5 favourite McWicked (Brian Sears) and Evenin Of Pleasure (Sylvain Filion). First over Arthur Blue Chip (Dave Miller) and Odds On Equuleus (Tim Tetrick) finished half a length behind in a dead-heat for fourth, both just edging out Nirvana Seelster (Yannick Gingras), who had taken the lead from the outside post eight at the :26.2 first quarter mark and led through a half in :55.1 and three-quarters in 1:23.1.
Ellis Park paid $11.40 to win as the 9-2 third choice in the eight-horse field.
The six-year-old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover is owned and bred by the David Goodrow Stable.
To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Mohawk Racetrack.