Mohawk Celebrates OSS 50th Anniversary; Taurasi Tops Preferred

Convoy Hall, Its A Love Thing, Griff, Taurasi, Nijinsky, Trophy Taker
Published: May 26, 2024 02:01 am EDT

Woodbine Mohawk Park hosted a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) program on Saturday, May 25.  There was indeed a lot to celebrate, with five OSS events and several impressive performances.

Convoy Hall (Sylvain Filion) trotted to a lifetime best with a 1:52.3 win in the first division of the first leg of the Gold Series for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings, contested for a purse of $95,000.

The gelded Muscle Mass bay son out of Constance Hall made the lead before the quarter, reaching that station in :27.1 before cutting out a half in :56.4 and three-quarters in 1:25.1 en route to the winning mile in the evening's second race.  Myretirementdream (Trevor Henry) challenged in deep stretch but came up three-quarters of a length short.  Willowtime (Bob McClure) was third.  

Trainer Bob McIntosh was thrilled with the performance of his charge, who has now won seven of eight lifetime starts and banked $144,300. McIntosh explained in a post-race interview, "I was really high on him as a two-year-old at first, but then he started to grow and I had to let Mother Nature do her thing."

McIntosh trains for Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. of Windsor, Douglas John McIntosh of Wheatley, Ont., Randy Liepa of Livonia, Mich. and Beverley Snobelen of Ridgetown, Ont. Convoy Hall paid $3.70 to win as the 4-5 favourite.

One race later, Its A Love Thing showed some speed of her own, setting an OSS record for pacing mares on a seven-eighths-mile track as James MacDonald steered her to a 1:49 triumph in the Gold Series leg for three-year-old pacing fillies. There was $140,000 was on the line in this event. 

MacDonald was content to sit seventh in the early going as Pass Line (Louis-Philippe Roy) set sizzling splits of :25.3, :53.3 and 1:21.4 before giving way in the stretch. Its A Love Thing rode third-over cover around the final turn before accelerating to the lead in the stretch and notching the one-length win over Odds On Platinum (Sylvain Filion), with Lightning Lizzie (Brett MacDonald) third. 

After steering Its A Love Thing to an OSS record and lifetime best, James MacDonald said that he was "licking [his] chops the whole way," adding that the filly "comes off a helmet like a jet."

David Menary trains the Bettors Delight-Love For Sail filly for Erik Good of Davidsonville, Md., Thomas Biederman of Lexington, Ky., Joshua Green of Midway, Ky. and Rich Lombardo Racing LLC of Solon, Ohio. Its A Love Thing has won two of her three starts this year and eight of her 15 lifetime outings, banking a total of $707,656. 

The next Gold division, for a purse of $95,000, had another group of three-year-old trotting colts and geldings contest race six. Griff showed grit by wearing down Ways And Means (Doug McNair) to set a new lifetime mark in 1:53.2. Captain Wania (Trevor Henry), who had led to the opening quarter in 27.1, finished third.

Griff rode the three-hole around the first turn behind Masstercraft (Sylvain Filion) and in front of Ways And Means. Griff brushed to the lead along the backstretch, but it was short-lived as Ways And Means was put in motion and made the lead at the half in :56.2.  Ways And Means led to three-quarters in 1:24.4 before being hauled down in the shadow of the wire by the Muscle Mass-Renegade Magic gelding. 

Griff is two-for-two in 2024, with five wins in nine lifetime starts and total earnings of $332,700.  Bettors were rewarded with a $3.30 payout.  Trainer Murray Brethour co-owns with Jeffrey and Lori Thomson of Chesley, Ont. and Kyle Northover of Sunderland, Ont.

One race later, $95,000 was again on the line when the glamour boys got to strut their stuff in the first of two divisions of the first Gold Series leg for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Trophy Taker (All Bets Off - Shadow Claire) gave James MacDonald another OSS driving victory on the night, this one a 10-1 upset with a $22.10 win payout. 

Trophy Taker was assertively pointed to the lead from post eight before Louis-Philippe Roy sent 26-1 shot Best Night Ever to the lead, arriving first at the opening quarter in :26.2. Unrivaled Hanover (Jonathan Drury) briefly led on the approach to the half before even-money favourite Storm Shadow (Bob McClure) brushed to the lead, tripping the half-mile teletimer beam in :54.1 and posting three-quarters in 1:22.2. Trophy Taker vacated the four-hole and went first over with less than three-eighths of a mile to go. Trophy Taker wore down Storm Shadow in deep stretch for the 1:50 win, earning a new lifetime mark. Unrivaled Hanover was third. 

David Menary trains for Burke Racing LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino, Harvey Cedars and Lawrence Karr.  Trophy Taker is three-for-13 lifetime with career earnings of $106,138.

The 2-1 upset posted by Nijinsky (Louis-Philippe Roy) in the other $95,000 division for three-year-old colt and gelding pacers was not as big a bonanza for bettors -0 just a $6 payout. It was nonetheless a triumph for the Bettors Delight colt over the heavily-touted Funtime Bayama (Sylvain Filion), who went off at 1-5. 

Nijinsky posted the opening quarter in :27.1 before Funtime Bayama took over on the backstretch, reaching the half in :56 and getting to three-quarters in 1:24.1.  Nijinsky, who rode the pocket behind Funtime Bayama, tipped out at seventh-eighths and glided past Nijinsky to win by half a length in a lifetime best 1:49.4.  Do Better (James MacDonald) was third. 

Nijinsky is two-for-two in 2024. The Anthony Beaton pupil, owned by West Wins Stable, John Fielding and Mark Dumain, has won three of 12 lifetime starts and banked $156,862.

After the OSS action, some familiar faces took to the track for the $36,000 Preferred Pace. Taurasi prevailed in a season's best 1:48.3 with Doug McNair at the lines, winning his ninth in 10 starts this year and seven of his last eight starts dating back to Feb. 3. Saulsbrook Victor (Brett MacDonald) was second and Dupree Hanover (James MacDonald) was third. 

Taurasi is a 21-time winner with $579,759 in the bank. The five-year-old bay gelding by Racing Hill out of the Eleven A M mare is trained by Richard Moreau for Brad Grant of Milton, Ont. and Alagna Racing LLC of New Jersey.

In addition to the OSS victories with Its A Love Thing and Trophy Taker, David Menary conditioned the fourth race winner, Chalk Hanover (Bettors Delight - Current Hanover).  Chalk Hanover was part of a Menary training triple on the evening and one of four driving wins for James MacDonald.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.

(Standardbred Canada)



Impressive performance from Blue Hunt in the night's final race. He scorched the mile in a dazzling 1:47.4, which was the fastest mile in Canada and the second-fastest mile in North America, in 2024.

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