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'Platoon' Marches Into Super Finals

Published: October 9, 2014 9:13 am ET

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"I think he’s definitely a contender in there Saturday. It’s just fun to be in it though, just to make it that far. He’s definitely exceeded everything that we expected of him.”

Lightly-raced Platoon Seelster was one of just two yearlings that Ryan Holliday purchased last year. Holliday took “a shot in the dark” purchasing the Federal Flex yearling for $6,500 at the 2013 Forest City Yearling Sale on the recommendation of his friend and Seelster Farms employee Jack Waples.

“He worked at the farm and he said he really liked this little horse,” Holliday told Trot Insider. “He said he was smart and easy to work with and he was just all trot in the field all the time…I went down and looked at him and he stood correct and everything like that. He wasn’t real big, but the price was right so we took a shot."

That shot is paying off in spades as Platoon Seelster will carry the 27-year-old reinsman to post in the $250,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final for two-year-old male trotters on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack.

While Trot Insider does have Holliday projecting a successful campiagn from Platoon Seelster in the 2014 harness racing predictions video, Holliday admits that he never imagined his modestly-priced and modestly-sized yearling would turn into a $250,000 Super Final contender while training down.

“No, I didn’t...I’m not going to lie,” laughed Holliday. “He was one of those horses that did what he was told, but he did no more than that either. Every time we dropped him, he seemed to do it. I wasn’t raving about him every time I trained him or nothing like that, but he just seemed to keep going ahead.... If we wanted to go a trip in [2]:40, he’d go in [2]:40. If we wanted to go in [2]:20, he’d go in [2]:20. He just did what he was supposed to.”

After qualifying at Mohawk Racetrack in late June, Platoon Seelster finished second by just a neck to A Little More Love in his first start in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series leg at Georgian Downs. While his next start wasn’t for almost six weeks due to sickness, he was a romping eight and three-quarter length winner in his return in the eliminations for the Balanced Image Trot and finished second by half a length to Caulfield in the final.

“He got sick on me in the summer and we ended up missing two Golds in the middle of the summer,” said Holliday. “That was kind of disappointing at the time, obviously, but I think it’s paid off because he’s coming in fresh. I’m happy that he didn’t get a lot of starts this year -- I think it will help him for next year coming back.”

Platoon Seelster - OSS Gold Leg - Flamboro Downs - Sept. 23

Platoon Seelster edged out A Little More Love in the fourth Gold event on September 23 at Flamboro Downs, recovering from a break in stride early on for the 1:59.4 career-best victory. In the final Gold leg of the regular season last week at Mohawk, he finished fourth in a 1:57.4 mile under a cloud of fog.

“He got away too far back and he just had terrible, terrible cover. I had to move him three-wide quite early,” said Holliday of the gelding’s first off-the-board finish. “I thought he raced well for where he was sitting at the half. He closed up well and he hasn’t seen a big stretch for a while so I think it’s going to help getting that start going into this week. But no, I wasn’t disappointed with him last week. I thought he raced well under the circumstances, he had a bad trip and hopefully he’ll get a better one this week.”

Platoon Seelster will make his final start of the season on Super Final Night. He will start from post five in the fifth race, the richest of Holliday’s career.

“There’s probably seven of them that have a legit shot,” noted Holliday, assessing the competition. “There’s a new one winning every week it seems. It will just come down to who gets a good trip, I guess. I think it’s very wide open."

Platoon Seelster, who has earned $79,500 in just five starts, is trained by Holliday’s father, David, and is owned by his wife, Caroline, and friend Dennis Hannath. The father and son Mount Forest, Ont. horsemen will be vying for their first Super Final victory together with the Federal Flex-Personal Hanover gelding.

“My wife and the other owner and everybody are excited. The family is going down in a limo on Saturday so they’re pretty wound up. [Dennis] has been involved his whole life, but he’s said he’s never had one even close to this. Everybody’s pumped.”

The OSS Super Final races have been carded as Race 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10. To view the entries, click here. For a free, printable program page, courtesy of TrackIT, click here.

In addition to all of the exciting races on track, there will be a multitude of activities to enjoy off track, including EquiMania, a youth education program presented by the University of Guelph. Designed to delight horse enthusiasts of all ages, EquiMania features games, workbooks, fun materials and true to life displays and offers a unique hands-on adventure into the wonderful world of horses.

It will be a jam-packed evening at the Campbellville racetrack on October 11, with lots of entertainment for the family, live music, contests, exhibits, great food and of course, some outstanding racing by the very best colts and fillies in the province.

The fun will begin at 5:30 p.m. with racing starting at 7:25. Admission and parking are free.

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