Kopas Set For Gold Showdowns

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Published: October 11, 2011 07:02 pm EDT

The second straight evening of Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Final action at Woodbine Racetrack this week features the two-year-old pacing fillies and the two-year-old trotting colts, and trainer John Kopas will

harness one entry in each of the Friday evening contests.

First out of the paddock from the Kopas Stable is pacing filly Cooking The Books, who will be hampered by an outside post for the second straight week. In last week’s Gold Elimination the filly finished third from the outside Post 10 and will be looking to match or better that result from Post 9 in Friday’s fifth race.

“I’m really, really pleased with the way she’s raced for us,” says Kopas, who trains Cooking The Books for Glengate Farms of Campbellville, Helen Biback of Thornhill and Old Aultsville Stables of Mississauga. “She’s had to overcome a couple of tough posts in the last month, but she’s very competitive with that group.”

Through 12 starts the daughter of Mach Three-Gallery Girl has tallied one win, one second and four thirds, for earnings of $85,061. Cooking The Books started her provincial career with a win in the Grassroots Series season opener at Hiawatha Horse Park on June 30, and then made the leap up to the Gold Series, where she has not missed a cheque in six appearances. Heading into the last regular season event the filly sits sixth in the standings with 70 points and will appear in the season ending Super Final at Woodbine on Nov. 12.

Kopas picked Cooking The Books out of the 2010 Forest City Yearling Sale, offering up a relatively modest $15,000 for the youngster. The Milton resident liked the filly’s pedigree and conformation and was not afraid of the feisty attitude she displayed on the sale grounds.

“A big reason why she sold so inexpensively, I think, was because she showed quite a little bit of attitude at the sale, especially on the first day when I looked at her,” explains the horseman. “I went around the second day to look at her and she seemed a little calmer.

“She wasn’t the easiest (to break), but once she settled in she’s been perfect. She’s a good girl now.”

Moffat resident Jack Moiseyev will steer Cooking The Books in Friday’s Gold Final, tackling reigning Gold Final champion Legal Entity at Post 2, two-time Gold Final winner Class Of O Nine from Post 5, and elimination winner Apogee Hanover from Post 7.

Moiseyev will also steer Kopas’ second Gold Final starter, two-year-old trotting gelding The Game Plan, who makes his bid for a fourth straight victory from Post 6.

The Game Plan captured his elimination in effortless front end fashion last week, cruising home three and three-quarter lengths ahead of his peers in 1:55.4. Prior to that start the son of Kadabra and former Gold Series competitor Image Control ($240,514) swept to victory in his elimination and the final of the William Wellwood Memorial at Mohawk, competing against the top colts in North America. Kopas says the gelding, known as ‘Harry’ around the barn, trained well this week and should be ready to rumble Friday.

“We call him ‘Harry’. Harry Rutherford’s the breeder and the colt’s big and he’s always hungry, just like Harry,” says Kopas with a chuckle. “And he’s a friendly big cuss, too, so he’s got all of Harry’s traits.

“He trained well this morning (Tuesday), so we’ll see what happens on Friday,” adds the trainer.

Like Cooking The Books, The Game Plan was a horse many buyers shied away from at last fall’s Canadian Yearling Sale. The half-brother to $1.4 million winner Pure Ivory arrived at the sale with a lump on the front of one ankle. Kopas believed that the lump was superficial, and his feeling was vindicated when it disappeared three weeks after he had paid just $20,000 for the regally bred youngster.

Through the winter the trotter was flawless on the racetrack, but his rambunctious antics in the barn earned him an appointment with the veterinarian before Christmas.

“As I’ve said before, the only reason he’s a gelding is because he felt so darn good around the barn I was afraid he would hurt himself in the stall,” explains Kopas, who found the youngster up over his stall gate on more than one occasion before he was gelded.

Since then the gelding has gained in both size and strength, and has achieved his sizeable stature in a surprisingly balanced fashion. Unlike many young horses who seem to grow in front and then behind, or vice versa, Kopas says the winner of $420,300 has never been out of proportion.

“He grew considerably over the winter, and what amazed me was how proportionally he grew,” says the trainer, adding that the colt has continued to grow all summer.

“Jack hadn’t seen him since he drove him in the Wellwood and he commented the other night in the paddock, ‘Cripes, he looks like he’s grown some more,’” Kopas adds. “He’s a good size, he looks good, he carries his weight well; I’m very pleased with the way he has progressed through the season.”

Moiseyev will steer The Game Plan from Post 6 in Friday’s eighth race, keeping an eye out for the other elimination winner, Prestidigitator from Post 4, and former Gold Final winners Il Mago and Good Sound Advice from Posts 8 and 9.

Post time for Woodbine Racetrack’s Friday evening program is 7:30 p.m., with the freshman pacing fillies starring in Race 5 and the freshman trotting colts taking the stage in Race 8.


To view entries for Friday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Entries – Woodbine Racetrack.

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