Mario Baillargeon pulled off a stunning upset in tonight’s $130,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold final for three-year-old trotting fillies, as he sent 70-1 shot, Cuddler, past 4-5 favourite Ill Wait For You to win by three-quarters of a length
Jody Jamieson and Novelty AS led the field of fillies through early fractions of :27.2, :57.2 and 1:26.3 while Baillargeon and Cuddler drafted along in third. As the field turned for home, Novelty AS ran out of steam while Mets Inn (Randy Waples) and Ill Wait For You (Trevor Ritchie) came on strong. Ill Wait For You briefly stuck a head in front, but in the final strides Baillargeon and Cuddler pounced on the far outside, and prevailed in 1:56.1, a new lifetime best for the Kadabra-Yankee Twister filly.
Ill Wait For You settled for second and Mets Inn was third.
Bred and owned by Stephen Scharff of Halifax, N.S. Cuddler is trained by Murray Brethour. This was only her second career win in 20 starts, and it will more than double her lifetime earnings to $122,557.
Cuddler paid a handsome $146.30, $36.40 and $21.10.
In regular racing action, co-favourites Pink Kangaroo and Quail Seelster battled for the $44,000 Fillies & Mares Open Pace victory down the stretch with the former edging out her rival in the final strides.
Southwind Swallow (Luc Ouellette) showed early gate speed, but Pink Kangaroo was out and driving from third at the 3/8ths point under the guidance of Steve Condren. The five-year-old Cams Card Shark-Holy Matrimony mare landed on top before the half in :55.3 and led the way past three-quarters in 1:24.1.
As Pink Kangaroo headed into the stretch, Quail Seelster (Randy Waples) angled three-wide off the cover of Unique Legacy (Mark MacDonald) and collared the pacesetter down the lane. But with one last push, Pink Kangaroo surged ahead in the final strides to win by a nose in 1:51.1. Marietta Hall (Sylvain Filion) rounded out the top three.
The win was Pink Kangaroo's fifth of the season in 15 tries lifting her earnings to $131,780. Brian Hodgson trains the 22-time career winner, who pushed her bankroll over the $400,000 mark tonight for owner John Bell of Petrolia, Ont.
To view Friday's harness racing results, click here.
(With files from WEG)