Georgian Downs fans struck gold repeatedly on Saturday night, correctly predicting the winners of all four $130,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series finals on the rich Gold Rush program.
Last year’s Super Final winner Prestidigitator was sent off as the heavy favourite in the first Gold final and the three-year-old trotting colt did not disappoint the large crowd.
Starting from post two the colt sat fourth as Il Mago stepped out to a :28 opening quarter and a :55.1 half.
Heading for the three-quarters driver Sylvain Filion sent Prestidigitator three-wide around a stalled Cold Certified and grabbed command of the race from Il Mago, who made a break soon after.
From the 1:24.4 three-quarters to the wire it was smooth sailing for Prestidigitator, who stopped the clock at 1:54, more than a second faster than his elimination win last week and just one-fifth of a second off the track and Ontario Sires Stakes record for sophomore trotting colts.
Pocket-sitter Reckon Im Ready trotted into second, three lengths behind the winner, while Midfield Magic was eight and one-quarter lengths back in third to complete an all Kadabra son triactor.
The win was the second straight for Prestidigitator, who was third in his only other start this season. The winner of $408,672 is owned by Ecurie Synergie of Montreal and trained by Dustin Jones. The Kadabra son’s connections will now have to decide whether to defend the Gold final title at Flamboro Downs on August 5 or take their Hambletonian-eligible trotter to The Meadowlands for that historic event on July 28.
Fan favourite Cooking The Books left smartly from post one in the three-year-old pacing filly Gold final, leading the field to a :27 opening quarter before conceding the lead to Katys Jet.
Katys Jet sailed on to a :54.1 half and a 1:23.1 three-quarters, serving as a windbreak for Cooking The Books, who resumed command before the stretch and swept across the wire a two and one-half length victor. Class Of O Nine closed like a rocket to claim second-place honours in the 1:52 mile and Hope For Paddy circled out wide to get up for third.
Jack Moiseyev engineered Cooking The Books’ victory for trainer John Kopas and owners Glengate Farms of Campbellville, Helen Biback of Thornhill and Old Aultsville Stable of Mississauga, Ontario.
The win was the third straight for the Mach Three daughter, who has been sharp in recent weeks; Saturday’s mile peeled more than a second off the personal best she recorded in last week’s elimination round.
Cooking The Books will have an opportunity to defend her Gold final title when the pacing fillies make their second Gold Series stop at Kawartha Downs on August 2.
It may have taken her a couple of starts, but when Miss Paris finally found her way to the winner’s circle, the three-year-old trotting filly did it with style, matching the 1:54.2 track and Ontario Sires Stakes record set by Cross Of Lorraine in 2010.
Starting from post two, driver Rick Zeron allowed Miss Paris to ease off the starting gate and the pair was sitting sixth when Twin B Sensation reached the opening quarter in :28.1.
As Daylon Miracle took control of the tempo heading for the :56.3 half, Miss Paris started to move up the outside and the fan favourite had a nose in front of Daylon Miracle by the 1:25.3 three-quarters.
Sugar Wheeler did her best to catch Miss Paris in the stretch, but the filly cruised home a one and one-half length winner in the record equaling 1:54.2. Elimination winner Circles rounded out the top three.
Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, Ontario, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, Florida, and David McDuffee of Delray Beach, Florida, share ownership of Miss Paris, who now boasts one win and two seconds in her first five sophomore starts. Trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman faces the same dilemma as Dustin Jones, stay in Ontario for the second Gold event at Flamboro Downs on August 5, or send the Kadabra filly to New Jersey for the Hambletonian Oaks on July 28.
The last of the four Gold finals saw fans throw their support behind Upper Canada Cup winner Michaels Power, and the Camluck son did not disappoint his backers.
Starting from post three with regular pilot Scott Zeron in the race bike, Michaels Power took command of the race heading for the halfway marker and never looked back, cruising home a two and one-quarter length winner in 1:50.2.
Aside from the quicker time, the finish looked almost identical to last week’s elimination as Piston Broke, owned by Arpad Szabo of Bradford, Ontario, trainer Rob Fellows of Rockwood, Ontario, and Willard Sabrosky of Madison Heights, Michigan, sprinted into second and Secretsoftheknight trailed Michaels Power into third.
Casie Coleman trains Michaels Power for Jeffrey Snyder of New York, New York, and has sent the gelding out seven times this season, missing the winner’s circle just once; a sixth-place finish in his North America Cup elimination on June 9. Michaels Power will aim for a seventh victory when the Gold Series stops at Mohawk Racetrack on July 28.