Hellabalou Triumphs In Camluck Classic

Hellabalou winning the Camluck Classic
Published: May 31, 2024 11:34 pm EDT

Half-mile track specialist Hellabalou invaded the The Raceway at Western Fair District to take top honours in the 2024 edition of the $150,000 Camluck Classic Invitational Pace, presented by Seelster Farms, as the London, Ont. meet wrapped up in front of a packed grandstand on Friday, May 31.

Hellabalou marked trainer Ron Burke's fifth victory in the track's signature event.

Driver Louis-Philippe Roy took advantage of his inside post position and Hellabalou's gate speed to take command of the field of eight with trailing tier starter Poseidon Seelster (Bob McClure) protecting pocket position while Blue Hunt (Travis Cullen) and Linedrive Hanover (James MacDonald) fired wide into the first turn before eventually settling in line through a :26.4 first quarter.

Hellabalou continued to lead the way through a rated half in :56 with Blue Hunt back out first-up and Linedrive Hanover following the cover as they completed the first lap.

Blue Hunt was in the hunt down the backstretch, applying pressure to three-quarters in 1:23.3, but Hellabalou shook him off through the final turn. Linedrive Hanover then fanned three-wide and took aim down the lane, but 4-5 favourite Hellabalou lasted on the lead to score by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.1. Poseidon Seelster finished third.

"I was confident in the way that if we could take advantage of that rail position, I think it would have been a big difference, and that's actually what happened," said Roy of his pre-race assessment. "James kind of got into a tough spot because he had the six-hole there and I was able to control the race. And that horse [Hellabalou] makes it so easy for you to do it because he snapped off the gate really fast and then the second quarter was :29.1; it's not every horse that can be really aggressive off the gate and then slow down for you and relax for a quarter, so it's really a horse well suited for a half-mile [track]."

Roy said he remained confident around the last turn, but was impressed by the runner-up's game overland effort.

"I was still hearing 'Linedrive' coming so I was surprised how 'Linedrive' can be fast for a piece as well. So, like I said, the fact that he had to go around everyone, it made it a little easier for us, but that doesn't take anything off Hellabalou because he's a pretty nice horse."

Hellabalou, who earned his second Borgata Series title last month at Yonkers Raceway, now has two wins from 10 seasonal starts. The victory was his 28th lifetime and boosted his bankroll over the $1.5 million mark.

The six-year-old Sweet Lou-Magestic Blue Chip stallion is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Eric Good, Weaver Bruscemi and Lawrence Karr.

"Nights like this really make you love your work," added Roy, who last won the Camluck Classic two years ago with Richard Moreau trainee Jimmy Freight and also teamed up with Burke to win the 2018 edition with Rockin Ron in a 1:50.1 track record. "Every post parade you have people cheering for you and just the atmosphere with the crowd there, it's really nice. We can't be thankful enough for everybody that organizes these kind of events."

Burke also won the race, previously known as the Molson Pace, from 2010 to 2012 with Won The West and two-time champion Foiled Again.

Hellabalou paid $3.80 to win.

Local fan favourite So Much More defended her title in the $50,000 Forest City Invitational Pace, matching her 1:53 win time from last year's edition which was just one-fifth of a second off the track record for older pacing mares.

So Much More winning at The Raceway at Western Fair District

After following in fourth through opening panels of :27 and :56.1, driver James MacDonald sent the three-time O'Brien Award winner three-wide off cover down the backstretch to put a neck in front at the 1:24.3 third quarter mark and opened up 2-1/4 lengths from there to win over Talk Curdy To Me (Louis-Philippe Roy), who tracked the winner's backside move and chased through the stretch. Early leader Gias Surreal (Bob McClure) rounded out the top three.

"She's the epitomy of an iron horse, they don't make too many like her," said MacDonald after the race. "When they started to tire up front, she could really feel it. She's a special horse who has given us a lot of thrills. I'm just really proud to drive her."

The millionaire daughter of Big Jim-Ladysai earned her 72nd career victory for trainer Don Beatson, who co-owns with son Kenn Beatson and grandson Cole England.

So Much More paid $3.20 to win.

The Raceway's three-week City Of London Series was dominated by male pacer La Sun Control (Colin Kelly, 1:55.1) for trainer Rick Edwards, pacing filly Sauble Lila (Jason Ryan, 1:56.3) for conditioner Otis Hall and trotting filly Mass Money (Scott Young, 2:01.3) for the Mark Etsell stable. All three completed sweeps of their respective series divisions. Captain Wania was also perfect in the male trot division after one appearance in the preliminary legs. The Shannon Henry trainee returned to The Raceway to take the final in 1:58.4 with Travis Henry in the bike.

The City Of London Series, with finals ranging in purses of $23,000 to $30,000, was for Ontario-sired horses four years old and younger that were non-winners of $10,000 lifetime as of midnight March 1, 2024.

The Raceway also hosted Ontario Sires Stakes action on the Camluck Classic undercard with four $20,000 divisions comprising the first leg of the Grassroots Series for three-year-old pacing colts.

James MacDonald drove a pair of Grassroots winners, teaming up with the David Menary-trained Chalk Hanover for a 1:55.3 score and the lightly raced Lakers Bank, who lowered his mark to 1:54.4 in his first OSS appearance for Tim Myers.

Sports Activator also won his division in a time of 1:54.4 for driver Brett MacDonald and trainer Michael Armstrong. The final division went to Logan Behold, who equalled his 1:55.3 lifetime mark with Tyler Borth in the bike for trainer Joseph MacIsaac.

R Royal Port was a repeat winner in The Raceway's Preferred trotting ranks, wiring the field in Friday's $15,000 edition named after the London Classic Sale. The Gerard Demers trainee scored in 1:57.1 by more than two lengths over Insanity and Treasured Tee with James MacDonald aboard for another trip to the winner's circle.

Cassidy Schneider, leading trainer through the first part of the year at The Raceway, added a victory on the meet finale in the $15,000 Bulldog Hanover Preferred Pace with Hollys Treasure, a homebred owned by her father Colonel Jr., holding off Arties Ideal by a nose in 1:54.2 in rein to Colin Kelly.

Schneider ended the meet with 41 wins so far this year at The Raceway while Cameron McQueen finished second in the standings with 32 victories and Jason Libby rounded out the top three with 22.

Garrett Rooney topped the driver standings with 119 victories, followed by Tyler Borth (88) and Travis Henry (80).

The Raceway reported on-track handle for the Camluck Classic card was up 17 per cent over the 2023 total with one of the largest crowds in recent memory in attendance.

Live harness racing will return to The Raceway in the fall on Oct. 1. 

A replay of COSA TV's Camluck Classic coverage is available below.


To view Friday's complete harness racing results, click the following link: Friday Results - Western Fair Raceway.

(Standardbred Canada)

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