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Courtly Choice Serves Notice

Published: April 18, 2019 12:00 pm ET

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After having made a splash in qualifying action last week at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Courtly Choice, the returning son of Art Major, upped his game on Thursday (April 18) during the morning session at the Campbellville, Ont. oval.

Courtly Choice was part of a compact, yet star-studded qualifying tilt that went postward for Race 8 over a ‘fast’ track. Rail starter Mission Three was scratched from the race, which left a field of just four – but what a foursome it was.

Pilot James MacDonald was at the helm of Courtly Choice, the 2018 Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug winner, and the duo started from Post 2 for the tightener.

Courtly Choice was the quickest off of the starting gate, and led fellow stars Sintra, Magnum J and Jimmy Freight past the quarter pole in a pedestrian :29.1.

Courtly Choice began to open up daylight on his competition early in the second quarter, but MacDonald rated the Blake MacIntosh trainee halfway through the panel before clicking off the half-mile clock in :58.

It was in the back half of the mile where Courtly Choice was looking to shine – and shine he did.

MacDonald let the career winner of 12 of 28 starts and $977,000 in purses pace in the third quarter, and Courtly Choice responded by putting in a :26.3 third quarter and passing the third station in 1:24.3.

Courtly Choice was revved up as he hit the head of the lane and was looking to keep on truckin’. The four-year-old bay drifted through the homestretch, but he was flashing some solid pace in the process, as he was first under the wire in 1:50.4, courtesy of a :26.1 final quarter and :52.4 back half.

MacIntosh told Trot Insider last week that the plan is to have Courtly Choice make his seasonal pari-mutuel debut in the first Graduate leg, which is scheduled to take place on May 4 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Courtly Choice, pictured victorious at Yonkers Raceway in New York.

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.).

Fresh off of her O’Brien Award-winning 2018 campaign, Luc Blais trainee Emoticon Hanover recorded the first charted line of her six-year-old campaign in Race 5. A pair of scratches reduced the field to six, and thus the Bob McClure-driven millionaire started from the outside Post 6. The world record holder crossed over to the lead and cut the speed in :29.2, :59.1 and 1:29.1. The bay was well in hand through the lane and cruised home to an open-lengths win in 1:58.3.

Emoticon Hanover is owned by the Determination stable from Montreal, QC.

After having taken a two-hole trip in Race 10, Ontario Sires Stakes Gold winner Sweet Young Thing shot through the lane along the inside and muscled her way to a one and one-quarter-length victory in 1:55.3. The three-year-old daughter of Sportswriter was driven by Chris Christoforou, is trained by Tony O’Sullivan, and races for breeder/owners Lorne and Jean Keller of Exeter, Ont.

The North America Cup eligible Do Ya Think showed a couple of moves during his victory in Race 12. The three-year-old Bob McIntosh-trained and Randy Waples-driven Ponder colt was parked to the lead past the :30.3 opening quarter before clearing to the point and leading the field down to the half in 1:00.2. The bay spun off three quarters in 1:28.4 before digging in through the stretch. He rebuffed all challengers en route to a solid win in 1:57. Do Ya Think has been pegged at odds of 50-1 in Trot Magazine’s 2019 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book. To check out the spring book odds, click here.

Another Cup-eligible son of Ponder that is trained by McIntosh captured Race 13. John Mac, a gelded chestnut, paced to a 1:56.3 win for pilot Bob McClure. The duo made the front after the :29.1 opening quarter, cut the middle fractions (:58.4, 1:27.2) and finished things off with a :29.1 final quarter en route to a two and a half-length win. John Mac, who is owned by breeders Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. (Windsor, Ont.) and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. (Leamington, Ont.), was assessed at odds of 100-1 in Trot’s spring book.

The final qualifier of the morning (Race 16) saw the Anthony Beaton-trained and Jonathan Drury-driven Better Single record the first charted line of her three-year-old campaign. After an opening half that was clocked in :58.2, the Ontario Sires Stakes Gold-winning daughter of Betterthancheddar came calling first-up on the leaders. She continued her push past the 1:27.2 three quarters and went on to prevail at the wire in 1:55. Beaton, of Waterdown, Ont., co-owns the filly along with David Mercer of Sydney, NS.

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

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