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Favourites Dominate Gold Divisions

Published: June 24, 2019 11:43 pm ET

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There were no surprises at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday night as fan favourites Forbidden Trade and Southwind Avenger delivered impressive victories in the second Gold Series event of the three-year-old trotting colt season.

In the first $107,200 division driver Bob McClure eased favourite Forbidden Trade away from Post 1 and was content to watch from seventh as Cool Clifford and Dream Nation battled to a :27.1 opening quarter. The favourites were still sitting seventh when Dream Nation hit the half in :56.3 and, although in the outer lane, they remained in seventh as the pacesetter reached the three-quarters in 1:25.

Once Forbidden Trade had a clear look at the wire however, the Kadabra colt shifted into another gear and reeled off a :26.3 final quarter, reaching the wire one and one-quarter lengths on top in 1:53.1. Pacesetter Dream Nation settled for second and Knight Angel completed the top three.

“Well he’s got a wicked turn of speed and he loves to chase them, so I was still pretty confident, he felt really good,” McClure told Woodbine Mohawk Park’s Jason Portuondo in the winner’s circle. “I’d used him two, three times in the last couple weeks and, you know, it’s a long year, I wanted to just try and save one move today, and his one move is pretty substantial. So I figured, the way they were getting out of there, he still had a shot at it.”

Elora resident McClure crafted the colt’s second win of the season for trainer Luc Blais of Campbellville and owner Determination of Montreal, QC. Last year’s Ontario Sires Stakes champion, Forbidden Trade came into Monday’s test with a runner-up finish in the June 15 Goodtimes Final, a win in his Goodtimes elimination and a second in the Gold Series season opener under his belt.

“I think you can see this year that he is better, you can do lots of things with him,” said Blais. “I think he’s more mature and more stronger and more sounder. He’s a very nice horse you know; he’s very handy and very smart, very, very smart.”

Blais said the colt is eligible to most of the major three-year-old trotting colt stakes, but noted that they are taking a pragmatic day-by-day approach to his schedule.
“This year is a big year,” Blais. “I know he’s got a Gold at Rideau Carleton, (July) 21 I think, and after that we don’t know if we are going to go to the Hambletonian or something like that; we go week by week.”

In the second division Southwind Avenger left well from Post 2 and driver Trevor Henry had the fan favourite on the front soon after the :28.2 opening quarter. Through the :57.4 half and 1:26.4 three-quarters Southwind Avenger never saw a challenger and when Henry asked for a little more in the stretch the E L Titan son opened up four lengths on the field, hitting the wire in a personal best 1:54.2. McClure steered Fingals Wave into second and Manatlas finished third.

Arthur, ON resident Henry steers Southwind Avenger for New Jersey-based trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman and owners Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, ON, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL and Little E LLC of New York, NY. Monday’s win was the gelding’s second in Gold Series action this season and boosted his sophomore record to three wins and one second in five starts.

“He’s a pretty nice colt,” said Henry from the winner’s circle.

“I think he’ll be a great four-year-old, because he’s immature really, like he’s got a lot of filling out (to do), and he’s a tall big horse. In time I think he’ll be a really nice horse,” Henry added.

With two of five Gold Series events complete, Southwind Avenger currently leads the division point standings, with Forbidden Trade sitting second, the reverse order of how the pair finished in the season ending Super Final last fall. The talented duo will continue their rivalry in the next Gold event, which goes postward on July 21 at Rideau Carleton Raceway.

Monday’s program also featured the $34,000 Preferred Trot, and once again it was a Ben Baillargeon-trained trotter going home with the win.

In recent weeks it’s been a class domination by Baillargeon’s Musical Rhythm, but this week’s class belonged to Top Expectations who rolled to a 1:51.4 score for driver Dan Dube.

Top Expectations marched to the lead and carved out fractions of :27, :55.4 and 1:23.4 before using a :27.4 closing panel to win by a half-length margin over Free Willy Hanover. Third prize was earned by O Narutac Perfetto.

The four-year-old daughter of Cantab Hall-Exceed Expectation improved her 2019 record to 4-2-1 from seven starts with the win. The 10-time winner has banked over $420,000 for owner Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, QC.

It was one of three wins on the card for veteran trainer Ben Baillargeon who also celebrated victories with Bautista (1:52.1) and Royal Witch (1:52.3).

(With files from OSS)

To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.


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