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Camluck Classic Highlights COSA TV

Published: May 31, 2020 6:22 pm ET

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Though the Camluck Classic would have been contested this weekend, the signature race was nonetheless front and centre on the Sunday (May 31) edition of COSA TV Live.

Host Greg Blanchard, joined by colleagues from The Raceway Greg Gangle and Shannon “Sugar” Doyle as well as Michael Carter from the USTA, revisited and discussed many memorable moments from the history of the Camluck Classic, formally known as the Molson Pace until 2018 and prior to known as the Labatt Pace.

Opening with a picture from afternoon racing in London with old-fashioned cars parked on the infield, the guests also looked at news clippings supplied to the show courtesy of Shawn Crawford of Guy Spurrier’s coverage of the Molson Pace—more specifically the 21st edition (contested in 1992). This edition in particular attracted Jake And Elwood, the multi-millionaire pacer who at the time was midway through his five-year-old campaign. However, like other editions of the Molson, the field’s star power took a hit when Jake And Elwood had to scratch during the week due to sickness.

“Just like the thoroughbred game it’s all about the field size,” said Greg Gangle, Racing Manager for The Raceway. “We experienced that in 2019 where a couple horses were scratched unfortunately—our richest event of the season was down to a six-horse field. It just takes a little bit away from the event on a wagering side and just from the fan’s perspective as well. You’re kind of expecting these horses to be there, unfortunately they can’t. It just takes away from the event, [but] at the same time we generally have been fortunate over the years to have a full field so we can’t complain too much.”

The conversation shifted to discussing the unique running of the 2019 Camluck Classic, with Greg Blanchard saying “We were disappointed last year—nothing worse than early on Camluck day getting the news that two big horses are going to be late scratches. You’re down to a field of six, then the incident in the first turn… not what you want to see, and fortunately that’s a rarity here in the big race. But then it ends up being an excellent race and a mild upset.”

In 2019 Sintra—a dominant free-for-all pacer from the Ontario circuit—and Trump Nation— competing strongly against the top stock on the east coast—scratched from the Camluck Classic, the former due to lameness and the latter due to sickness. The first-turn incident occurred when Ideal Jimmy, leaving fast from the pylons to protect position, took a bad step and went off stride. While on a gallop, Ideal Jimmy impeded Southwind Amazon and essentially took him out of the race, leaving just four horses in contention for the trophy.

Odds-on favourite Done Well led the remaining field through mild fractions until The Wall came first over to pressure the leader into the final turn. The favourite retreated through the stretch as The Wall surged to a 1:52 victory at odds of 12-1 with Rockin Speed, the longest shot on the board at 26-1, finishing second by a half length.

“Two scratches, two horses taken out of the race and you know what it’s what I call magic… of what can happen, especially on a half-mile track,” Gangle said. “Western Fair has been known where you can win from virtually anywhere, which you can. There’s no passing lane, which causes a lot of early flow, and The Wall benefitted. Things couldn’t have worked better for him that day.”

Backtracking, the show then featured a photo of the first winner of the Labatt Pace, Key Ones Uno driven by owner-trainer Jack Kopas to a 2:04.3 victory. The first edition had a purse of just $7,500.

“You go through the purse money this event has featured over the years,” Sugar Doyle said, “to go from $7,500 to a high of $300,000 plus—and now still going for some real good money. And then of course the miles—dropping 14 seconds—we now feature a track record here of 1:50.1. And maybe sub-1:50 is not that far off here in the Forest City.”

The show then took a look at all the various program covers that the Camluck Classic has featured along with the champions gracing the front page, including Evenin Of Pleasure, Broussard. Along with this history, the show revisited a moment from both the event and harness racing history with the winner’s circle photo from the 1998 edition, which finished in a triple dead heat between Emery Flight, Any Excuse and What A Beach.

“On the triple dead heat it’s neat to know that the mare had won, Oohs N Aahs,” Sugar Doyle said. “She got setback for some interference turning for home, so all three of those dead heated for second [and were] all placed winners. It was something.”

Moving further down memory lane, the show featured replays and discussions from various editions of the Camluck Classic, including replays of the 1985, 1987 and 1988 editions among many others.

With the novel coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation of the Camluck Classic in 2020, COSA TV Live featured a virtual edition of the race with a field composed of notable champions from the event’s 48-year history. The virtual Camluck Classic was put together by The Farm Games using the engine for its mobile game Off And Pacing.

This edition of COSA TV, which is presented by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association, appears in its entirety below.

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