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Muscle Hill Reigns Supreme In Canadian Trotting Classic

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Published: September 19, 2009 9:52 pm ET

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Muscle Hill continued his supreme reign with an authoritative victory in the $1 million Canadian Trotting Classic for three-year-olds Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack.

Muscle Hill and Brian Sears got away fifth from Post 4 as Southern Rocketop (Dave Magee) fired off an opening quarter of :26.2. From there, Muscle Hill rolled to command bypassing the half in :56.2 and then three-quarters in 1:25 before kicking away by three and a half lengths to win in 1:53.1. Explosive Matter (Ron Pierce) finished second over Southern Rocketop.

Sears, who won his first Canadian Trotting Classic tonight, went over the $100 million career earnings mark.

"It feels fantastic. What a great feeling. He's a very special horse," said Sears after the race. "They just don't come around like him very often. He's by far the best horse I've ever driven.

"One of my main concerns was I didn't want to get three deep and parked. So I let everybody settle in and when I moved him, he responded very well. He's been doing what he's been doing all along. He stuck to his work. He was fantastic. I feel very lucky to drive a horse like that."

Trained by Greg Peck for owners Jerry Silva, the T L P Stable, Southwind Farm and Muscle Hill Racing LLC, the Muscles Yankee-Yankee Blondie colt is now nine-for-nine in his sophomore season with $1,886,441 earned. Muscle Hill has won 17 of his 18 career starts earning $2,703,742.

With the win, Muscle Hill joins a pantheon of trotting greats, including Donato Hanover and Deweycheatumnhowe, the last two winners of the Canadian Trotting Classic, who were also victorious in the Hambletonian and World Trotting Derby during their sophomore seasons.

Hot Shot Blue Chip and Steve Condren made a late stretch run to upset favourite Cesar A Blue Chip in the $100,000 Canadian Trotting Classic consolation at Mohawk tonight, stopping the timers in 1:54.

Cesar A Blue Chip (Tim Tetrick), who dueled with Senator Hall (Dan Ackerman) through the early fractions, was second by a length, and P J Clark (Trevor Ritchie) took the show spot.

Hot Shot Blue Chip, by New Jersey sire, Revenue S, is trained by Jonas Czernyson for Tom Dillon of Anson, Maine. This was his fifth win in 15 career tries, and pushes his earnings over the $100,000 mark.

John Campbell's Career Celebrated At Mohawk

What better time than the night of the $1 million Canadian Trotting Classic, for the Woodbine Entertainment Group to honour one of harness racing’s greatest drivers, Ailsa Craig, Ontario native John Campbell?

The legendary linesman, who will be inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in November, enjoyed more than just a night at the office tonight when Mohawk racetrack celebrated his storied career with poster hand-outs, an autograph signing, video highlights of his most important victories, and a draw to win an autographed set of his distinctive maroon, white, and light blue racing colours.

A third-generation horseman, 53-year-old Campbell has captured nearly every stakes event in North America and beyond, over the course of his career. That includes six Hambletonians, three Little Brown Jugs, four Canadian Pacing Derbies, five Cane Paces, six North America Cups, the Canadian Trotting Classic, two World Trotting Derbies, two Yonkers Trots, eight Messenger Stakes, Sweden’s Elitlopp, and an astonishing 44 Breeders’ Crown events.

He has led all North American drivers in earnings no fewer than 16 times, and currently ranks seventh all time in victories, with 10,204. Inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York, in 1990, he has also been honoured by the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame and in 2000, was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

Campbell commented, “I learned all my horsemanship from my father and grandfather, and got a great start from my mom and dad. I was very fortunate that my wife is just a tremendous harness racing fan, and my number one fan. She’s been so supportive over the years and has allowed me to have a schedule which is sometimes crazy, and I never had to worry about any backlash from her at any time. That’s been a great
help through the years. I’ve got a team behind me that has helped me throughout my whole career.

“I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. It’s a great honour for me to be here, and it’s great to see so many people out. Thanks a lot.”

Bigtime Ball, Four Starzz Meliss Double Up In Open Action

A pair of Opens were featured on the Canadian Trotting Classic undercard, which saw Bigtime Ball out-sprint Canadian Pacing Derby champion Shark Gesture in the $50,000 Open Pace and Four Starzz Meliss hold off Dreamfair Eternal in the $44,000 Fillies & Mares Open Pace.

In the former event, Shark Gesture (George Brennan) plowed off the gate from Post 3 putting up a :26.3 first quarter while Bigtime Ball settled for a pocket ride after leaving from the rail. With Paul MacDonell in the bike, the son of Presidential Ball-Keystone Trinidad tracked the leader through panels of :56 and 1:24.3 before making his move in the stretch. Proving that he can sprint with the best, Bigtime Ball used a :26-second final frame to nip the favoured Shark Gesture at the wire. He stopped the clock in 1:50.4 winning by a neck. Riggins (Tim Tetrick) was a quick-closing third.

Owned and trained by Gord Irwin, Bigtime Ball has put together a 2009 record reading 11-4-0 in 17 starts with $387,442 in earnings. The five-year-old gelding’s 24th lifetime win lifted his earnings to $991,923.

In the fillies and mares event, Four Starzz Meliss and Jason Brewer rolled to command from Post 5 but Southwind Swallow (Ron Pierce) swept up from the far outside reaching the first quarter in :26.1. Four Starzz Meliss subsequently moved back out for the re-take and took the field past the half in :54.1 and three-quarters in 1:23 while Miss Scarlett (Rick Zeron) applied first-over pressure. In the stretch, Four Starzz Meliss dug deep to hold off favourite Dreamfair Eternal (Tony Kerwood), who rallied off second-over cover, in 1:51.1 by a head. Quail Seelster (Luc Ouellette) was third.

Glenn Lalonde trains the eight-year-old Cambest-Tappy Belle mare for owners Jennifer Lalonde of Guelph and John Nother of Brampton, Ont. The win was her 10th of the year in 19 starts lifting her earnings to $215,060. The 43-time career winner has banked a total of $816,506 to date.

To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click here.

(With files from WEG)


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