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Woodbine Mohawk Park: High speed on display in Gold opener
High speed on display in Gold opener

Thursday night (July 12) marked the Ontario Sires Stakes debut of the 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings, and fans at Woodbine Mohawk Park witnessed three dominant performances by the Gold division winners.

Stag Party set the bar high in the first $51,680 division, powering out from post 10 to take lead before the :27 opening quarter. Driver Doug McNair allowed Sunshines Finest to circle around Stag Party and set the tempo through the :56.1 half and 1:25.1 three-quarters, but when McNair opened Stag Party up in the stretch the colt laid down a :26.4 final quarter to secure the victory in 1:52.1. Sunshine's Finest finished 2-1/2 lengths back in second while fan favorite Bettor's Wish was five more lengths back in third.

“From day one he’s always shown me he has that extra gear and winning attitude in him,” said trainer Casie Coleman. “I think I got some nice colts, but he’s always stood out from the rest.”

Coleman conditions the son of Bettor's Delight and My Lady Day for John and Jim Fielding, Mac Nichol and Kevin McKinlay. The partners acquired Stag Party at the 2017 Standardbred Horse Sale for $125,000.

“I decided to downsize a lot, and a lot of my owners all wanted this horse and it ended up that I couldn’t own any of him, and I own a piece of everything,” Coleman told Woodbine Mohawk Park’s Jason Portuondo in the winner’s circle. “I had to beg and plead to be able to get a piece of this horse from them after I picked him out, and one of them let me in a little piece of him, but that’s how much I like him. I can’t train this horse and not own him.”

The win was Stag Party’s second in two starts. He was also victorious in a July 3 overnight at the Milton oval, an outing that followed qualifying victories on June 15 and 25.

The second division saw Bronx Seelster and driver Trevor Henry follow a similar path to the winner’s circle. Moving strongly off the gate from post nine, Henry dropped the Big Jim-Tarport Baccarat son onto the rail in third and was content to watch Maintenance Man roll through fractions of :26.3, :55.4 and 1:24.2 before asking his colt for another gear in the stretch. Bronx Seelster responded with a :27.4 final quarter that saw him draw away to a 5-1/2 length victory in 1:52.2. Coleman trainee Sporty Mcsportster finished second and Maintenance Man settled for third.

“He’s a nice colt, very handy and easy to drive,” said Henry, who climbed onto the colt’s race bike for the first time on Thursday and delivered a first-time Gold Series victory to trainer Wayne McGean.

McGean trains Bronx Seelster for his partners in the Capers 3 Stable. The group offered up C$22,000 for the colt at last fall’s London Selected Yearling Sale and have already recouped their investment.

The final division saw fan favorite Caviart Rockland deliver the fastest mile by a 2-year-old in Canada so far this season, and the third fastest in North America. Starting from post two the Sportswriter-Rock-A-My Baby son and driver Marcus Johansson landed in fifth as Can't Be Better and Sports Charm dueled to a :27.3 quarter, then tipped into the outer lane heading for the :56.3 half. Steadily reeling in the leaders Caviart Rockland was just a length back at the 1:24.2 three-quarters and then proceeded to power down the stretch in :27.2 to a 4-3/4 length victory in 1:52. The Regulator and Coleman trainee Better Earl also closed well to be second and third, respectively.

“I liked this colt from the get go, and he seems like he is actually a nice one,” said Marcus Johansson from the winner’s circle. “He’s a little green and he was running in a little bit in the turns so I actually wanted to be first-up, because I didn’t want to be on the inside on the turn, so it kind of worked out good, and I knew if I asked him to go he would respond.”

Thursday was Caviart Rockland’s first start after a trio of qualifiers at The Meadowlands. Nancy Johansson trains the talented youngster for owner-breeder Caviart Farms.

The freshman pacing colts will make their second Gold Series start on July 23, returning to Woodbine Mohawk Park.

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