(Photo of Draft Year and driver Randy Waples courtesy of New Image Media)
Driver Randy Waples capped off the Gold Series regular season with a pair of victories at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening, using similar tactics to get Draft Year and Kendall Seelster from Post 5 to the winner’s circle.
On an calm, clear October evening, Waples decided the front end was the best place for fan favourite Draft Year and the decision proved to be a wise one as the Kadabra gelding cruised to a five and one-half length victory in 1:56.4. Chief Justice enjoyed the outer lane windbreak offered by Levitation through the later stages of the mile and then circled around to be second, leaving Levitation to settle for third.
“He’s a really nice colt, he always has been a nice colt,” said Waples from the winner’s circle. “Tonight when he left the gate he was going forward and I looked over and Sylvain (Filion with Cousin Rickard) was already grabbing up, so I just kind of kept the whip on his tail and kept his mind on it and he just kept getting faster and faster as the race went on.”
Milton resident Waples crafted the win for trainer Brad Maxwell of Guelph and owners Doug Millard of Woodstock, Ben Mudry of Toronto, ON, Timothy Murray of Shawville, QC and Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, PA. The win was the first in Draft Year’s five race career and it propelled the gelding from fifteenth to fifth in the point standings, giving him a berth in the Oct. 14 Super Final at Mohawk.
Five races later Waples lined up behind Post 5 for the second time and opted for the same strategy, sending the fans’ second choice Kendall Seelster directly to the front. The three-year-old pacing filly rolled through fractions of :28, :56.2 and 1:24.1 and then kicked into high gear in the stretch, sprinting home to a 1:51.3 victory. Firestorm paced into second and Play The Bell closed hard, nudging favourite Percy Bluechip out for third.
“Tonight I actually was looking to cut the mile out, I kept making her roll along because I wasn’t looking for a re-move with her tonight,” said Waples from the winner’s circle. “It is the first time she’s been in front, but she finished with the plugs still in her ears.
“They both were very good, and both seemed strong at the finish,” said the reinsman of his pair of winners.
Waples piloted Kendall Seelster to the win for trainer Paul Reid and owner 1187422 Ontario Inc. of Ottawa, ON. Thursday’s victory was the Shadow Play daughter’s fourth of the season and second in Gold Series action, putting her in a tie for top spot in the point standings with three-time winner Percy Bluechip.
“I didn’t think she’d end up cutting it. With Percy (Bluechip) on the rail I thought we might have a little more tussle getting to the front, but it worked out all right for us,” said trainer Paul Reid. “He (Waples) knows the filly and I trust him. He’s come in a couple different times and trained her with me, and so he knows her as well as anybody. I know he has confidence in her, so any way he felt to drive her, I was fine with that.”
Reid also picked up a third-place finish in the other $95,600 three-year-old pacing filly Gold division with Just Her Luck, and the trainer is hoping both fillies can maintain their momentum heading into the Super Final.
“She’s had a little time off too and she finished up good in the end of that, so hopefully we look good going into next week,” said Reid. “Sometimes plans work out, sometimes they don’t, but right now if I can keep things going the way they are, I’ll be happy.”
Just Her Luck finished a closing third behind winner Easy Three and Lady Grande in the 1:53.4 mile. Lady Grande did all the work on the front end, waging a fierce battle with fan favourite Cardiff, but a late sprint saw Easy Three and driver Jody Jamieson hit the wire on top by a two length margin.
Jamieson drives Easy Three for his father, trainer Carl Jamieson of Rockwood, ON, breeder Winbak Farm of Chesapeake City, MD and George Harrison of Preston, England, and the reinsman says the trip to the winner’s circle has been a tough one with the daughter of Mach Three.
“She’s an absolute nut. She’s just been a loon ever since Dad threw a harness on her. He’s had a real tough time getting her to where I can actually drive her in a race,” said the Moffat, ON resident. “Now that he’s figured her out exactly, she has some talent. It’s hard to say if she can go with the top fillies from the other division, but there’s only one way to find out.”
Thursday’s win, her first in 10 starts, boosted Easy Three from sixteenth to fifth in the standings and she will be part of the top 10 point earners competing in the $225,000 Super Final on Oct. 14.
The other two-year-old trotting colt and gelding Gold trophy went home with Barney Mac, who finished third in the division Grassroots Championship at Mohawk on Sept. 30. Also starting from Post 5, driver Chris Christoforou eased Barney Mac into fifth as Spark A Dream led the field to a :28.3 quarter and a :59.2 half. When former Gold series winner T Barrr swung off the rail into the outer lane, Christoforou sent Barney Mac in his wake and stayed right on that colt’s heels as he opened up a gap on the field heading for the 1:29.2 three-quarters. Squaring up in the stretch Christoforou asked Barney Mac for another gear and the gelding dug hard to the wire for his second lifetime victory in a personal best 1:58. T Barrr settled for second, one and three-quarter lengths behind the winner, and Torches Pirate was third.
“He’s a nice little colt,” said Christoforou. “We got a second over trip and he kicked home very well when I asked him.”
The Campbellville resident crafted the win for trainer Per Henriksen of Norwood and owners Tor Jan Larsen of Norwood, ON and Adv Racing Stable LLC of Pawling, NY. The partners acquired Barney Mac two weeks before the Grassroots Championship and have recouped $53,800 of their investment in just two starts. Although the win would have given him enough points, Barney Mac is not eligible to compete in the Super Final due to his appearance in the Grassroots Championship.
The top 10 trotting colts and geldings and pacing fillies will return to Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, Oct. 14, along with the leading point earners from the other six divisions, to compete for a total of $1.8 million in the season ending Super Final.