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Gold Stakes & Series Finals At Mohawk

Published: July 11, 2015 11:00 pm ET

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Ontario’s top two-year-old pacing colts kicked off their Gold Series season at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening with three impressive performances.

“I think there are a lot of colts with speed, I was very impressed with all the elimination winners,” said trainer Dave Menary, whose Nvestment Bluechip captured the first $70,000 division.

Two colts in the first division had already scored wins in conditioned races at Mohawk, and fans made Arsenic and Matchplay Hanover their top choices based on those results. When the starting gate swung away from the field, Stonebridge Beach, Matchplay Hanover and Nvestment Bluechip left aggressively from posts one, three and four. Stonebridge Beach and Nvestment Bluechip each enjoyed a brief turn on the lead before Matchplay Hanover took command just after the :27.3 opening quarter.

Matchplay Hanover continued to lead through the :55.4 half and 1:25.4 three-quarters, with Nvestment Bluechip tucked in behind him and Stonebridge Beach applying pressure from the outside, closely followed by Arsenic. Turning for home, the colts were tightly bunched, but when Stonebridge Beach and Arsenic stalled in the outer lane driver Jody Jamieson was able to maneuver Nvestment Bluechip into open space and the Shadow Play son sprinted down the stretch to a one-quarter length win over the hard-closing Semi Automatic and Sintra.

Moffat, Ont. resident Jamieson engineered the 1:53.1 victory for trainer Menary of Cambridge, Ont. and his partners Michael Guerriero of Puslinch, Ont., Denis Breton of Welland, Ont. and Thomas Kyron of Toronto, who offered up $40,000 for Nvestment Bluechip at last fall’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale.

“He was my favourite from Day 1,” admitted Menary, who also won a pair of two-year-old pacing filly Grassroots events at Mohawk on Thursday. “We’re very happy tonight.

“I would have liked to have a start into my colt [before tonight],” the trainer added. “But we’re happy to be fresh and looking forward to the rest of the year.”

In the second division, fan favourite Betting Line took command before the half and never looked back, sailing home a two and one-half length winner in 1:52.1. Heavymetal Hanover and Imsporty finished second and third.

Chris Christoforou of Campbellville, Ont. steered Betting Line to the win for trainer Casie Coleman and her partners West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Ont., Christine Calhoun of Chatham, Ont. and Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont. The group acquired the Bettors Delight son from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale, spending $60,000 on the half-brother to four $100,000-plus winners.

“He’s a very talented colt, he trained down like a top colt from day one,” said Coleman of the well-bred youngster. “He’s fully staked up and we have high hopes for him.”

The final Gold Series trophy of the evening was awarded to Voracity, who also sprinted home to a two and one-half length win in 1:52.1. Milton, Ont. resident Randy Waples engineered the Sportswriter son’s victory for trainer Tony Alagna of Manalapan, New Jersey and his partners Brad Grant of Milton, Ont. and John Fodera of Staten Island, New York.

“He’s been a real pleasure to train all winter,” said Alagna. “We loved him when we saw him as a yearling at Hunterton Farms. I trained his mother Lu Lu Q when I worked for Erv Miller, so I liked the pedigree and took a good run on him at the sale.”

Alagna and his partners anted up $47,000 to acquire the colt, who scored wins in both of his qualifiers at The Meadowlands before shipping north in preparation for Saturday’s Ontario Sires Stakes test.

The two-year-old pacing colts return to Mohawk for their second Gold Leg next Saturday, July 18.

Up next on Mohawk Racetrack’s action-packed Ontario Sires Stakes schedule is the Gold Series season opener for the two-year-old trotting colts. The freshman trotters are featured in races three and five on the Campbellville oval’s Monday, July 13 program, which gets under way at 7:25 p.m.

A pair of series finals were also featured on Saturday night's harness racing card at Mohawk.

Split The House put on another impressive display to win the $50,400 Summertime Series Final.

A field of eight three-year-old pacing colts and geldings contested the final of the three-week Summertime Series. Split The House, who won the second leg, was sent off as the 4-5 favourite and was clearly in a league of his own on this occasion.

The James ‘Friday’ Dean trainee got away in fourth in the early going, while Poisonous and Sylvain Filion cut the mile and posted an opening half of :55.3. Around the final turn, driver Randy Waples sent Split The House first up and the public’s choice powered up to the leader at the three-quarter pole in 1:23.2. In the stretch, Split The House cruised by Poisonous and paced home effortlessly to win by two and three-quarter lengths in 1:50.2. Rockin In Heaven, the first leg winner, rallied to finish second, while Mr Carrotts was third. Poisonous finished in a dead-heat for fourth with Rustys Overload.

Following the race, Waples said the first up trip was no issue for Split The House.

“He was well in hand tonight. He’s just a really nice horse and it worked out somewhat good,” said Waples. “I did have speed to chase, but he was more than willing to be sitting out there and head of the lane there I asked him to pace and he was gone.”

A son of Rocknroll Hanover, Split The House was undefeated in three starts heading into the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations, but failed to make the final after a fourth-place finish. The Dean trainee also finished fourth in the consolation, but has now quickly rebounded with a pair of victories.

Waples said the North America Cup didn’t go as planned, but he has full confidence in Split The House.

“In my estimation he’s one of the best three-year-olds out there, it’s just the truth,” said Waples. “He was kind of misbehaving a little bit behind the gate [in the North America Cup] and ‘Friday’ put a screen on him and he’s just a different horse now. The last couple of weeks he seems like he’s turned a corner.”

The impressive victory in the Summertime stamps Split The House as one of the top three-year-olds locally and Waples believes the colt deserves another crack at Grand Circuit competition.

“I think he definitely deserves to be with them," he said. "If you’ve got a good field of horses you can find one to follow and I just think this horse is going to go a big mile before the year is up.”

Split The House is owned by Dean, Scott Horner and Peter Milligan. The sophomore pacing colt now has six wins from eight starts in his first season of racing for earnings of over $77,000.

The clocking of 1:50.2 matched his career-mark set in his third career start. Split The House paid $3.70 to win.

In order to be eligible to the Summertime, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of $30,000 lifetime as of March 31, 2015.

Imagine Dragon turned in another hit with a 1:51.2 victory on Saturday night in the $48,600 Town Pro Series Final for driver Rick Zeron and trainer Frank Antonacci.

The series final victory for the Antonacci trainee couldn’t have been written any better, as the series namesake Town Pro is the grand-dam of Imagine Dragon.

A daughter of Dragon Again, Imagine Dragon got away third early in the field of nine, but was quickly moved to the front in the second-quarter by Zeron. After a moderate half of :56.2, Imagine Dragon was confronted first up by Lovely Erin around the final turn, while stablemate Lindys Old Lady sat right behind her in the two-hole. Imagine Dragon was able to turn aside all challengers in the stretch after a 1:24.3 three-quarter time and sprinted home in :26.4 for a length and a quarter victory. Invest In Art charged home from third-over on the final turn to finish second, while Lindys Old Lady was third.

“She’s a real nice filly,” said Zeron, following the race. “The Antonacci operation doesn’t send horses up her unless they are real ready and a real good horse, so I knew she was good.”

Imagine Dragon, who is owned by Lindy Farms of Conn, now has three wins from seven starts in her first season of racing. The Town Pro final victory pushes her bankroll over $60,000.

The clocking of 1:51.2 established a new career-best for the sophomore filly. A $2 win ticket on Imagine Dragon returned $4.10.

In order to be eligible to the Town Pro, the three-year-old pacing fillies had to be non-winners of $30,000 lifetime as of March 31, 2015.

This week's $34,000 Preferred Handicap Pace went to Evenin Of Pleasure, who overcame his assigned outside post and circled the field of eight to win in 1:49.4 with Sylvain Filion aboard. The Richard Moreau trainee edged out fellow late-closer Spinfiniti by a head after sprinting his final frame in :26-seconds. The five-year-old son of Dragon Again is owned by Gestion J Y Blais Inc. Southwind Amazon finished over four lengths behind in third.

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

(With files from OSS & WEG)

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