Professional, easy-going, strong, willing — trainers Nick Gallucci and John Pentland called on similar adjectives Friday night to describe their two-year-old pacing colt Gold Series winners Betterhavemymoney and Stonebridge Helios.
The pacers took very different trips around the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval to get to the winner’s circle, but they tripped the teletimer in identical 1:51.4 clockings and both looked impressive in the effort.
Starting from Post 6 in the first $103,800 division, Betterhavemymoney and driver James MacDonald spent most of the mile in the outer lane, had to dodge a breaking Coligny Hanover in the final turn, and laid down a :26.3 last quarter to earn their victory. Kolby Two Step, who did much of the work on the front end, finished one length behind the favourites in second and Erinwood Yves also closed like a rocket to be third. (Replay)
“I was a little worried when that horse made a break in front of him in the turn, but he handled it like a professional. He does everything right this horse,” said Nick Gallucci. “And looking at him as a horse you’d never guess that he could be that quick-footed, but once he gets those legs moving they fly. It’s pretty amazing.
“He’s very stocky, he doesn’t have a lot of leg underneath him, he’s big bodied, but when he gets moving he’s like a train, everything starts moving in the right direction.”
Millar Farms of Stouffville bred and own Betterhavemymoney, who is now a two-time Gold Series winner. The Betterthancheddar gelding also won his division in the July 3 season opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Gallucci and the rest of the Millar Farms team had always liked the gelding, but it was a June 25 qualifier clocked in 1:55.2 that made them think he might be something special.
“All along we had an idea that he was a nice horse, but the family hasn’t really produced anything as of yet so we were kind of on pins and needles,” said Gallucci. “He did everything right all along, you could do anything you want with him in a race. He was always very professional and did his job, but I never really started thinking he could be special until that second qualifier. Obviously he’s even gotten better from there.”
So long as he is happy and healthy following Friday’s race, Betterhavemymoney will make his next start in the July 26 Battle Of Waterloo eliminations at Grand River Raceway.
In the second $103,800 division, driver Bob McClure hustled Stonebridge Helios away from Post 7 and led the field to a :27.1 quarter. Im King Conn took over before the :56.2 half and Camealongway stepped to the lead before the 1:24.1 three-quarters. McClure sent Stonebridge Helios into the outer lane around the final turn and once the colt got an open look at the wire he laid down a :27 last quarter to record a three-quarter length victory. Camealongway settled for second and Bob Loblaw closed well for third. (Replay)
Friday’s win was proof of what John Pentland had suspected since Stonebridge Helios arrived in his Dorchester, ON barn in mid-June. Owned by John Fleischman of Ottawa, ON, the colt was trained down by Dirk Simpson in Pennsylvania, qualified once at The Meadows Racetrack on June 15 and then shipped north for his Ontario Sires Stakes campaign.
“John Fleischman called and asked me if I would train the horse, he said he was just about to qualify at The Meadows and would I watch the qualifier. He was impressive in the qualifier and I was happy to take him,” said Pentland. “I have done very little. He was in good shape when I got him and he was hung up right, I’m just driving the truck.”
Pentland said Stonebridge Helios settled in effortlessly in his new surroundings and would have been competing with Betterhavemymoney in the Gold Series opener if not for a bruised foot he suffered in the paddock after his June 25 qualifier at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The foot issue put a wrinkle in the Sunshine Beach son’s training schedule, so instead of going postward in the July 3 Gold event he made his Ontario Sires Stakes debut in the July 9 Grassroots test, kicking home in :26.3 to finish second. That result was all the assurance his connections needed to enter Stonebridge Helios for the second Gold Leg.
“He is such a nice horse and he’s just absolutely push button. He’s a big strong horse, he’s the calmest horse in the world, whatever you want, he is happy to do,” said Pentland. “I think the colt is for real. He’s just so big and strong and happy to do it. There’s no issues. He just strikes me as a colt that is for real and might be able to hang around all summer.”
Unlike Betterhavemymoney, Stonebridge Helios is not headed to the Battle Of Waterloo eliminations. The colt will return to Gold Series action on Aug. 14 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Complete results from Friday’s program are available here and replays can be viewed on the Woodbine Mohawk Park YouTube channel.
Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Woodbine Mohawk Park on Tuesday, July 20 with five $22,000 Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old pacing fillies. Fans can download a program and watch the live stream on the racetrack’s website or register to attend in person at https://woodbine.com/mohawk/guest-registration/.
(Photo of Betterhavemymoney and driver James MacDonald courtesy New Image Media photo)
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