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McClure Seeks Saturday Sweep

Published: September 11, 2020 6:01 pm ET

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If things go well for driver Bob McClure on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park, he will leave the racetrack with wins in the $535,000 William Wellwood Memorial for two-year-old male trotters and the $335,000 Peaceful Way for two-year-old filly trotters.

Driving a pair of unbeaten freshmen, McClure’s chances for a big night appear pretty good. In the Wellwood Memorial, McClure will drive the seven-for-seven Macho Martini -- who won his elim in wire-to-wire fashion in 1:56 -- while in the Peaceful Way he will be behind Donna Soprano, who is four-for-four in her brief career after a 1:55.1 elimination score.

“Macho Martini is the best two-year-old I’ve ever driven,” said McClure. “And Donna Soprano is in a league of her own in Canada right now. She looks bionic.

“Not much splits the two of them. So far, fingers crossed they are healthy, sound and happy, and hopefully they’ll stay that way and keep the train rolling.”

If the train keeps rolling, the next stop is the Mohawk Million on Sept. 26 at Mohawk. Both first-year trotters are trained by Luc Blais and owned by Quebec's Determination, which was one of nine entities that purchased a slot in the Mohawk Million last winter for $110,000 U.S.

With the Wellwood winner receiving a free invite to the seven-digit race, if Macho Martini wins that would open the door for Blais and Determination to use their purchased slot for Donna Soprano or one of their stablemates -- Dicentra won the second Peaceful Way elim and is four-for-seven on the year, while On A Streak finished a nose behind Southwind Tyrion in the second Wellwood elim. Race conditions provide that a trainer can have up to two horses in the contest.

“It’s a $535,000 prep,” McClure said with a laugh. “It’s a serious and big test. I think my team already has one spot and they are looking for another spot. We do have three for it, so it’ll be exciting.”

Both Macho Martini and Donna Soprano won their respective eliminations, but interestingly McClure selected outside posts for the finals. McClure chose post six for Macho Martini, while he went one spot farther out with Donna Soprano in post seven.

“I’d rather be on the outside pushing forward than on the inside getting people out of the way,” explained McClure. McClure selected Macho Martini’s post first, followed by driver Yannick Gingras choosing post three for the Ake Svanstedt-trained Southwind Tyrion, who is unbeaten in four starts after his 1:54.4 elimination victory.

“I picked first and when Yannick picked the three hole I was pretty happy with the spot I had because I am quite a bit farther out,” said McClure. “I think that will make him have to do some navigating and hopefully we’ll be ahead of all that.

“Post six is the winningest post at Mohawk. And with a two-year-old trotter the inside goes pretty slow around the turn (heading toward the start).”

Macho Martini’s unblemished record includes a trio of Ontario Sires Stakes and a sweep of the Millard Farms Series. In the Millard final, Macho Martini trotted a career-best 1:54.4. The seasonal best for the son of Muscle Mass out of the $587,000-winning mare Peach Martini ranks outside the top 15 for fastest miles by a two-year-old trotter this year, but McClure downplays any significance.

“All I can say is that Mohawk is a lot slower than The Meadowlands, slower than Pocono, and he’s going the same speed as them and he’s wrapped up,” he said. “How fast can he go? I don’t know. Maybe the day he gets stretched out and the plugs get pulled he doesn’t have it, but everything he’s done so far has led me to believe he’s got more in the tank.

“He’s a very willing colt. He’s strong, he’s fast, he’s great gaited. He has everything to be the best colt in North America now. But you can say the same about four of them now, but until they race against each other you don’t know.”

As for Donna Soprano, she is a daughter of Donato Hanover out of the $1.2-million winner Windsong Soprano, who captured the 2008 Peaceful Way for trainer Bob McIntosh. McClure said whether or not Donna Soprano finds a spot against the boys in the Mohawk Million, he expects the filly to be at Harrah’s Hoosier Park for the Breeders Crown in late October.

“Luc (Blais) is always careful about two-year-olds [and] taking them to the Breeders Crown,” said McClure. “He tries to take it easy on them and he’s very good to them and manages them very well. But I think Donna Soprano is going to kind of force his hand because she is so good up here that I think she deserves a shot at the American horses.”

To view the entries for the Saturday card at Woodbine Mohawk Park, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Woodbine Mohawk Park.

(Harness Racing Weekend Preview)

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