Two big ones north of the 49th
by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
As Labor Day weekend approaches, many Americans will enjoy an extra day to celebrate the end of summer, the kids heading back to school, the start of the college football season and so on and so forth. Here’s hoping if you’re reading this, you will get the chance to relax and enjoy.
It’s called Labor Day for a reason and there will be some top-notch horses doing some serious laboring over the weekend.
The focus is to the North where Woodbine Mohawk Park will host two big races on Saturday—the Maple Leaf Trot and the Canadian Pacing Derby.
Why should you watch the Maple Leaf Trot?
For starters, it’s a big race, many of the best trotters are running. That includes 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta. She will start behind gate 10 on the 7/8 mile Mohawk track and is looking to get back on track after a couple of less than stellar performances. She is listed at 9-2 in the morning line, which indicates that the oddsmakers no longer find her invincible.
Marion Marauder, the 2016 Trotting Triple Crown winner is in the field. He is owned by Canadians, so he should be the hometown favorite if you will. He’s still formidable at age 6 and it looks like he will keep running. The goal was to retire him to stud duty and that was tried in 2017, but the colt didn’t take to it so it was decided to put him back on the track and thus far, that has paid some handsome dividends.
The others are all good runners—Crystal Fashion, Manchego, Guardian Angel As, Speeding Spur, Dancing Hall, Dream Together, Emoticon Hanover and Six Pack running for a very nice purse of 600k.
When the smoke clears—-Guardian Angel As will visit the Winner’s Circle.
Why should you watch the Canadian Pacing Derby?
For one reason—Lather Up. He and Shartin N are the best horses in North America and there’s a clear line that separates them from the rest. Not only does Lather Up win, he romps and runs blazing times for added beauty. He should like the Mohawk surface and if he brings it, they won’t touch him.
That said, Jimmy Freight is running well and his best might be good enough to pull the upset. McWicked, the reigning Horse of the Year is also running and while he hasn’t been as good in 2019, he is running better now after a slow start. His problem is that he has been running against Lather Up and when that happens, the best you can hope for is second. He showed how tough he is when he won the Gerrity Memorial Pace at Saratoga in July and any time an 8-year old can race well against the younger bucks, it’s worth a watch.
This Is The Plan will leave from the one post. I’ve been high on him. He’s a good one and he may be ready to breakthrough. In addition to these three, the other five are Done Well, Western Fame, Courtly Choice, Filibuster Hanover, Casimir Richie P.
When the smoke clears—-Lather Up—again. Keep your eye on the clock as well. If he runs his race, I expect see a sub 1:48 and would not be surprised to see a sub 1:47 either. The track record is 1:46.4.
The undercard features the $171,503 Simcoe Stakes for 3-year old pacers and while it doesn’t attract the top billing, it should be a very good race. There are three heavyweights in the seven race field led by Meadowlands Pace winner Best in Show, Cane Pace winner Captain Crunch and the always tough Century Farroh.
Some of you may be wondering (and wishing) why the first two horses aren’t running in the Canadian Pacing Derby. The answer is that the Simcoe is restricted to 3-year olds and the connections figure that they will have plenty of opportunities to face older horses in the future.
In sum, it’s a great day and card for Woodbine Mohawk Park. In addition to the Maple Leaf Trot, the Canadian Pacing Derby and the Simcoe, there are three divisions of the Ontario Sire Stakes for 2-year old colts and geldings with each race carrying a $73,000 plus purse. All in all, the total purses are $1,621,503 for the 11 races with 96 horses entered.
The track, after splitting dates with Woodbine now is the premier home for harness racing in Ontario and Canada for that matter. They race year-round and in October will host the 2019 Breeders Crown races. Saturday post time is 7:10 pm ET