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Recipe for a Super Final champion: power, desire, smarts

"Every athlete has got a story and those horses they are very unique."

On Super Final night, Saturday, Oct. 12 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, each Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division has been whittled down to the very best. Post position will matter, and racing luck may play a role, but when it comes down to which horse is crowned champion the deciding factor is often something that is not so easily measured.

“If you could see it and just buy it, the person with the deepest pockets would always have the best horses, but because of that intangible that we cannot see — whether that horse has that drive, desire, that ‘It’ that we can’t see — sometimes it comes down to the athlete,” said trainer Rob Fellows, who will send out three-year-old trotting colt All Wrapped Up in the seventh of the eight Super Final divisions. “You look at some of the horses this year, like obviously the good horse of Nancy Johansson’s (Tall Dark Stranger) everybody loved him, everybody saw that ‘It’ and they paid a lot for him, but the little one that Chantal (Mitchell, Alicorn) has, everybody overlooked her because of her size, but she had that ‘It’ in her.”

All Wrapped Up will start from Post 7 in the $225,000 Super Final for Rockwood resident Fellows and his co-owners Arpad Szabo of Bradford, ON and Blair Corbeil and Mike McAllister of Beaumont, AB where the Archangel son will pit his competitive desire against division point leader and Hambletonian champion Forbidden Trade.

In 10 Gold Series starts over the last two years Forbidden Trade has only been bested twice. The son of Kadabra was the two-year-old trotting colt Super Final champion and will look to defend his title from Post 9 in the ninth race on Saturday. Trainer Luc Blais will also start a trio of young hopefuls in the two-year-old trotting colt and gelding Super Final for owner Determination of Montreal, QC. Crossfit Mouse will start from Post 1, division point leader Port Perry gets Post 2 and Threefiftytwo will start from the outside Post 10 in the sixth race.

“It’s a long process to bring a horse to the races you know. It’s lots of training, lots of work, and you try to build the best way you think,” said Blais, adding that Forbidden Trade started to show his potential as a two-year-old when the training miles started to get serious. “It was easy for him to do that, very easy, we didn’t know how good he was going to be, but it was easy. You can feel he’s got power, you can feel that, but what he’s going to do with that power, you can’t feel that.”

Blais has won at least one Super Final every year since 2016 and says each one of his provincial champions — Forbidden Trade, On A Sunny Day, Warrawee Roo and Emoticon Hanover — had a different quality that made them successful.

“They are different. They are all different,” said the Campbellville resident. “Every athlete is different, every athlete has got a story and those horses they are very unique. They’ve got personality and they are very unique, but one thing they’ve got the same, they are very professional.”

Dr. Ian Moore will start three horses in two Super Final divisions on Saturday and the Cambridge resident said that a professional, positive attitude might be the biggest early indicator of success.

“The go-ahead attitude, the right attitude, will show fairly early, as well as the wrong attitude,” said Dr. Moore. “And sometimes, in my experience with young horses, that doesn’t change. If they’ve got kind of a so-so or poor attitude from the get-go it often follows from there.”

Moore will send division point leader Century Farroh out from Post 3 in the three-year-old pacing colt and gelding Super Final and Denali Seelster and Tattoo Artist from Posts 6 and 7 in the two-year-old pacing colt and gelding test. Denali Seelster and Tattoo Artist will benefit from the absence of undefeated Tall Dark Stranger in the two-year-old pacing colt and gelding showdown. Trainer Nancy Johansson opted to skip the Super Final and focus the Metro Pace winner’s preparations toward the Oct. 18 Breeders Crown eliminations at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Only five horses have stepped up to face Century Farroh and Meadowlands Pace winner Best In Show in the sophomore pacing colt battle. Century Farroh heads into Race 8 on a streak of eight wins in Ontario Sires Stakes action, three of them at the Grassroots level as a two-year-old, where he was the season-ending champion, and five of them in the Gold Series this season.

“He was just an average two-year-old, but then at the end of his two-year-old season he started changing in his body structure and his mental ability and the last four starts he got really good,” said Dr. Moore, who conditions Mach Three son Century Farroh for Ratchford Stable NS of North Sydney, NS. “Good horses have a tremendous will and desire and competitive spirit to want to beat everything that’s around them. Some horses show that fairly early in training, where other horses may take a little while to mature mentally as well as physically before they’ll show you that. It might take a couple races, it might take a whole summer season — as in Century Farroh’s case last year — or it could show up very early.”

In the case of two-year-old pacing filly Alicorn, that will and desire emerged in her first lifetime start when she closed in :26.2 to finish second by a nose. Since then the daughter of Bettors Delight has recorded six wins and two more seconds in 10 starts, including three Gold Series wins, two of them in Ontario Sires Stakes record time. She will make a bid for a seventh win from Post 6 in Saturday’s second race.

“To me, the thing that kind of sets her apart from another horse is she’s just so smart. In a race, for example, you can put her on the front, you can take her back, you can do whatever you want and she’s smart,” said trainer Chantal Mitchell. “She’s got that little bit of character, that little bit of grittiness where she’s going to bite, and she’s going to kick at you and she’s going to push you around, but then when you go to walk her to the paddock or something she walks like a little puppy dog beside you, she’s not silly, she doesn’t do anything crazy, nothing gets her worked up.”

Hamilton resident Mitchell trains the division point leader for Windermere Stable of New York, NY and Robert Muscara of Ivyland, PA and said, like many other exceptional racehorses, there is no nonsense to Alicorn when it comes to the business of racing.

“It’s like they’re born to do it, their brain, their mindset never changes. Any time I’ve had a good horse, whether it was mine or someone else’s, that’s usually what it is, they’re just automatically professionals and I think that’s what sets the good ones apart,” said Mitchell. “And I think that’s where I put her — she’s there to do her business and she doesn’t think anything more of it, she does what she has to do and that’s it. And when she’s racing she wants to win, she wants to do her job and she’s happy to do it.”

The first of eight provincial champions will be crowned in Saturday’s first race, which gets under way at 7:10 pm. The other Super Finals will be featured in Races 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 on the $1.8 million Woodbine Mohawk Park program. Complete entries for Saturday, Oct. 12 are available at Super Final Entries.

(Photos courtesy New Image Media)

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