Sunday, January 4, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

There was much to celebrate as the Woodbine harness campaign came to a close on December 29th. This past year saw the emergence of Somebeachsomewhere, Woodbine hosted a brilliant OSS Superfinals and local drivers Jody Jamieson, Randy Waples and Paul MacDonell proved once again to be among the best in the business.

I was on hand to cover the final of the Niagara Pacing Series for Down The Stretch newspaper, as well, with only one night remaining to add to 2008 stats, many horsemen were watching closely to see if a winner could be decided between leading trainers Benoit Baillargeon and Rob Fellows who entered the evening tied with 95 wins each.

My trips to watch harness racing at Woodbine inevitably end up in ridiculous weather. Look at the snow gusting across the light poles on the back stretch.

Benoit Baillargeon poses with Come Onalonglisten - this horse was in the lead approaching the top of the stretch, only to be blown off-stride by 60MPH winds turning for home.

I had the opportunity to interview Somebeachsomewhere driver Paul MacDonell who is up for an O'Brien Award as Top Driver. Since "The Beach" is now retired, I asked MacDonell about horses to look for next year and he said, "It’s early yet, but I had a couple nice two year old winners in the OSS Superfinals with Elusive Desire and Point of Honour...they’re two that could be something to see next year."

As the trainers and handlers readied their fillies for the Niagara Pacing Series, trainer Rick MacNeill of pre-race favourite Windsong Esperanza took a moment to pose for the camera.

The imposing Paper Cut stands tall ahead of the feature event

Gottogetoutmore, one half of an entry with her speedy stable mate, Rip Rockin' Lady, was frisky in the paddock waiting for her friend to arrive, but did allow me close enough for a quick hello.

Here's a focused Rip Rockin'Lady staring me down, just daring me to approach.

The race went off without a hitch and Windsong Esperanza took the lead fighting through quick fractions in difficult conditions. Driver Todd Buter took cover in fourth spot with Rip Rockin' Lady and waited for his opening second over, smartly drafting in behind Signal to take a run at Windsong Esperanza in the stretch. In the last jump, Rip Rockin' Lady was up to win by the narrowest of margins.

Part-owner Lynette Buter, all smiles, after the race with a muddy Rip Rockin' Lady

I also spoke to Lynette's son, driver Ty Buter, who admitted he wasn't confident he could catch Windsong Esperanza down the lane saying, "I knew it would come right down to the wire and my mare just kept digging."

All in all, a good night for the Buter family!

While a full and proper write-up will appear in Down The Stretch, it can be reported that Benoit Baillargeon and Rob Fellows ended up in a tie for the trainer lead. Full stats are posted below.

I look forward to my next trip out to Woodbine where I will be equipped with snow pants, umbrella and hurricane repellent!

DRIVERS Sts 1st 2nd 3rd $Won Win% UDRS

Jody C Jamieson 1666 282 255 212 6,919,236 16.9 .297

Richard Zeron 1793 260 250 184 5,578,343 14.5 .257

Randall W Waples 1847 248 231 231 5,995,306 13.4 .245

Mario J Baillargeon 1665 185 204 204 4,504,314 11.1 .220

Mark J Macdonald 1399 185 167 175 5,330,488 13.2 .240

Paul Macdonell 1453 173 148 149 5,982,798 11.9 .210

Luc R Ouellette 1359 172 132 153 3,935,805 12.7 .218

Michael J Saftic 1570 156 178 171 3,965,418 9.9 .199

Jack G Moiseyev 1344 120 152 186 3,472,416 8.9 .198

Jason J Brewer 1209 116 99 130 2,552,461 9.6 .177

Roger F Mayotte 1062 102 101 84 1,917,387 9.6 .175

TRAINERS Sts 1st 2nd 3rd $Won Win% UTRS

Benoit O Baillargeon 680 95 89 79 2,340,917 14.0 .251

Robert Don Fellows 669 95 75 89 1,869,358 14.2 .249

Casie Coleman 450 80 76 59 2,609,504 17.8 .315

Kevin P McMaster 546 75 50 58 1,276,714 13.7 .224

Anthony Montini 273 58 39 28 951,311 21.2 .326

Jonas L Stutzman 313 53 41 29 740,333 16.9 .273

Robert A McIntosh 335 52 49 33 2,476,378 15.5 .269

1 comment:

SaratogaSpa said...

Great photos-don't you just love racing in the Wintertime!