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MacIntosh On Courtly Choice Qualifier

Published: April 11, 2019 1:29 pm ET

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The weather may not have been the best for the Thursday (April 11) qualifying session at Woodbine Mohawk Park, but that didn’t stop those in attendance from enjoying watching 2018 Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug winner Courtly Choice make his four-year-old charted debut.

Courtly Choice, the fleet-footed son of Art Major, took to the track for the twelfth of Mohawk’s 13 qualifying dashes. The Blake MacIntosh trainee lined up in Post 3 over a ‘fast’ track for pilot James MacDonald.

After having been away from the races since October 20 of last year, Courtly Choice took his time in the early going of his Thursday test. The career winner of $977,000 got away third and allowed the Phil Hudon-driven Shadow Margeaux to get down to the quarter pole first in :27.4.

MacDonald fired Courtly Choice up in the second panel, and the bay horse was overland and leading by a neck over Pedro Hanover (who was driven by Bob McClure) when he clicked off the half-mile timer in :57.

Courtly Choice settled onto the engine and opened up a bit of daylight on the turn, as he led by one and a half lengths at the 1:26.1 three-quarters call.

MacDonald called on his bay mount for more in the final quarter, and Courtly Choice responded by opening up a three-length lead by the head of the stretch. The duo continued to roll through the lane, as they came home with a :26.4 final panel, en route to a three and three-quarter-length win in 1:53.

Afterward, MacIntosh told Trot Insider that the mile time was just the range he was hoping to see from Courtly Choice in the Thursday qualifier. He went on to explain that the plan is to bring the four-year-old back to Mohawk for another tightener in one week's time, in advance of his seasonal pari-mutuel debut, which will come in the first Graduate leg on May 4 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Courtly Choice was a force to be reckoned with last season as a three-year-old. He paced to 10 wins and a second-place finish from 16 starts during his sophomore campaign, which was highlighted by his career-best 1:47.1 mile in the Meadowlands Pace and dramatic win in the Little Brown Jug in Ohio.

Courtly Choice is owned by Hutt Racing Stable (of Malvern, PA), Mac And Heim Stables (Cambridge, Ont.), Daniel Plouffe (Bromont, Que.) and Touchstone Farms Inc. (Guelph, Ont.).

A MacIntosh-trained colt that is eligible to the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup also posted a victory during the qualifying session. Fast N First, who is by Bettors Delight and out of the Artsplace mare My Sisters A Champ, turned a front-end trip into a seven-length, 1:55.1 win for pilot James MacDonald in Race 7.

Earlier on the docket (Race 2), the Eric Adams-trained and Randy Waples-driven Sportswriter colt Mohawk Seelster, who is also eligible to the Cup, held on for a neck victory in 1:56.2 after having done the majority of the roadwork on the point.

To view the harness racing results for the Thursday qualifying session at Mohawk, click the following link: Thursday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park (Qualifiers).

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