On the heels of a career milestone, trainer Tony O’Sullivan will look to add to those numbers with a pair of freshmen colts in Monday's Battle of Waterloo eliminations at Grand River Raceway.
O'Sullivan hit 1,000 training wins on Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack when Sylvain Filion guided Mayhem Seelster to victory.
"You never think about that stuff but then, a couple of months ago, I was looking at the year and I saw I was at 970 or 980 and I thought 'you know, we're getting pretty close' and the last couple of weeks I've known that we were real close. It's pretty cool."
Those 1,000 wins have come all over North America, with stakes victories at virtually every major track in operation. While he's got a Battle of the Belles trophy at home, one stakes race that has eluded him is the Battle of Waterloo.
O’Sullivan sends Calvin K, a son of Classic Card Shark from the Matts Scooter mare Road To Pandalay, in the first elimination, and Happy Trio, a son of Mach Three from The Panderosa mare Village Jovial, in the second elimination. Calvin K will start from post eight, while Happy Trio starts from post one.
“Having the rail’s great,” O’Sullivan said on Happy Trio. “It definitely helps on a half-mile track. With Calvin K, Jody [Jamieson] will have to find a way to get him into the race. But, he’ll be one of the favorites, and Jody’s a good driver, so I’m sure he’ll have him in a good spot.”
Calvin K, owned by Winbak Farms, races as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
“Winbak Farms bred him, and they didn’t run him through the sale,” O’Sullivan said on Calvin K. “I trained with Winbak maybe four or five years ago, and they called to ask if I wanted to train a two-year-old for them. That’s how I got him.
“He has an extremely-quick turn of foot,” O’Sullivan also said. “He can accelerate very easily.”
Happy Trio, owned by Domenic Chiarivalle, Lorne Keller, and O’Sullivan Racing Inc., races as the 7-5 morning-line favourite.
“He’s a very strong, athletic looking colt,” O’Sullivan said. “His pedigree was okay, but I really liked his body and the way he held himself.
“He’s a real fighter,” O’Sullivan also said. “He wants to win. Even when he won the other night [in an OSS Gold Division], he was going to do whatever it took to win. That’s how he’s been ever since we got him down to 2:20 when training over the winter. The lights went on, and he gave the impression that, in the heat of battle, he’ll give whatever he has.”
O’Sullivan said both pacers are coming into the eliminations from the second round of Ontario Sires Stakes, where Happy Trio won and Calvin K finished fourth.
“Calvin K had a bit of a rough trip,” O’Sullivan said. “He drew a bad post and had a little bit of traffic trouble, but before that he won the first round of the [OSS] Golds, so both are coming into the eliminations in good shape.
“We got Calvin K about five weeks before he qualified, but they’ve been training together lately so they could be at the same point,” O’Sullivan also said. “They’re different horses, but you can tell both have plenty of talent and speed.”
After starting up a satellite stable in the U.S. a few years back, O'Sullivan has now concentrated his efforts solely on one base in Ontario.
“We got down in numbers in New Jersey,” O’Sullivan said on shifting his stable to Ontario. “A couple of my overnight horses went to other trainers. I didn’t have the racehorses that I used to have, so it wasn’t economically viable to keep the operation going.
“I really want to try and build my Ontario barn up again,” O’Sullivan also said. “So between that, and wanting to focus on younger horses, it was actually really good timing for me.”
A focus on the training side of the industry has definitely paid off for the native of New Zealand, who has been in North America for 20 years.
“When I first came over, I was nineteen-years-old. I wanted to drive and do whatever I could, and then, when I came up to Canada, I drove for a bit and did okay. But I realized pretty quickly, if I didn’t have a big stable behind me, it was going to be a bit of a struggle,” O’Sullivan said on his transition into training. “I took a training job with Mark Harder, and ran his operation for three years. Then, ten-and-a-half years ago, I opened my own operation, and I don’t think you can do both.”
To view the entries for Monday's card at Grand River, click the following link: Monday Entries - Grand River Raceway.
(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Ray Cotolo)