Bob Loblaw notched his first harness racing victory of the year on Friday at Woodbine Mohawk Park and lowered his lifetime mark by more than two seconds in his SBOA Stakes elimination.
Driver Sylvain Fillion had the gelding out and moving after sitting third through a :26.2 opening quarter, and Bob Loblaw took point nearing the half in :55.4. Ron (Jody Jamieson) applied first-over pressure to the leader going to three-quarters in 1:24.1, but Bob Loblaw turned away that rival and thundered to the line for a 1:50.3 score.
Macho Phil (Travis Cullen) made no impact on the winner from the pocket and finished second. Chucky Hanover (Paul Macdonell) closed from sixth at the three-quarters to take the final placing. Ron finished fourth.
The winner returned $6.90.
BOB LOBLAW REPLAY
Woodbine Mohawk Park announcer Ken Middleton trains the son of Sunshine Beach and co-owns him with Sarnia residents James Grant and David Walls, along with Starting Centre Stables of Cambridge. Bob Loblaw won the $140,300 Nassagaweya Stakes and $225,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final – both in dramatic fashion – as a two-year-old. He is now four-for-14 lifetime and has earned $247,207.
Middleton discussed his gelding’s next steps in his post-race interview.
“It’s up to Bob (in terms of) what he wants to do,” said Middleton. “He’s got the SBOA elim tonight obviously, the final next weekend, and if all goes well we’ve paid him up to the Somebeachsomewhere. And we dream a dream, we (staked) to the North America Cup too – and the Breeders Crown because it’s in our own backyard here this fall. […] Plus, of course, the summer of Ontario Sires Stakes races.
“There’s plenty of money, and you don’t have to leave Ontario. It’s the great thing about our program, it’s the best in the business.”
In the other pacing colt elimination, 2022 Champlain Stakes winner Stonebridge Helios made his three-year-old debut following a blazing 1:51.1 qualifier and prevailed in a wire-to-wire performance.
The Sunshine Beach colt stepped quickly to the front for Bob McClure and provided :27.3, :56.1, and 1:25 fractions under no pressure. Sport Secret (Doug McNair) made his move turning for home and bore down on the leader at headstretch, but Stonebridge Helios was in control and kept that rival at bay as he cruised to a 1:51.2 lifetime-best victory.
Cold Creek Queso (Austin Sorrie) finished second following a late charge but was disqualified to ninth. Sport Secret received the place spot and Magical Arthur (Trevor Henry) was promoted to third. Don’t Poke The Bear (Filion) picked up the fourth spot. The winner met expectations as the 1/9 favourite.
STONEBRIDGE HELIOS REPLAY
McClure commented post-race on his mount’s improvement from two to three and heaped praise upon the colt.
“At two, he would get just a little bit scrambly the odd time leaving the gate – well now, he gets across the ground so easy, he just gets away easy, that’s not even leaving for him,” he said. “When you’re 1/9 and you can make the front that easy, it really makes it a lot easier for everybody – like the horse and everybody.
“He’s become a real all-around professional, and I don’t think I’d trade him for anything in North America right now.”
Stonebridge Helios has now won five of his eight career starts and has earned more than $300,000. John Pentland of London trains the colt and co-owns him with John Fleischman of Ottawa and Angie Stiller of Arva.
Evil Guy broke his maiden in a 48-1 upset in one of two SBOA Stakes eliminations for trotting colts.
Trevor Henry produced early speed from the Il Sogno Dream gelding and acquired front-end control entering the first turn. Stable Genius (Sylvain Filion) circled him from the pocket on the backstretch and brought the field of eight to the half in :57.3 and three-quarters in 1:26.4 while under duress from the first-up Red Overbach (Jamieson).
Evil Guy trotted into space as Red Overbach retreated at the top of the lane and pushed clear of Stable Genius in the final 1/16th after a prolonged stretch battle for a 1:54.4 shocker. Odds-on favourite Duly Resolved (Macdonnell) also passed the former leader for second but was unable to catch Evil Guy. Stable Genius slipped to third. Sea Can trotted home steadily for fourth.
EVIL GUY REPLAY
Shannon Henry trains Evil Guy, a homebred for Bill Manes of Rockwood and William Cripps of Acton. The gelding was winless in 10 starts before Friday’s outing. His best performance to date was a second place finish in an Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots event in August 2021.
“He’s been a project,” Trevor Henry said post-race. “We brought him along slow, and when they gave him to me they just said ‘treat him like he’s your own,’ so we have. We took our time with him – he used to struggle on the last turn, and we finally figured out what was causing it. Last week he probably would’ve won too, but I lost like four lengths on the last turn. We got it fixed, and he was good tonight.”
Twin B Archie’s win in the other trotting SBOA Stakes elimination was much less of a surprise. The 2022 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and Champlain Stakes winner marched up late and delivered at 1/2 on his seasonal debut.
The Archangel gelding took back into sixth for James MacDonald in a :28.4 opening panel. MacDonald tipped his hand and sent his charge second-over as new leader Star Power Hanover (McClure) cruised through the half in :58.3.
Twin B Archie remained on advancing cover to three-quarters in 1:28.3, and the gelding fanned out and unleashed his trot as the field entered the stretch. Esplosione (Henry) battled bravely to the end after a first-up trip, but Twin B Archie edged clear in the final strides to win by a half length in 1:55.3.
Mr Fritter (McNair) got past the tiring Star Power Hanover late for show.
TWIN B ARCHIE REPLAY
Twin B Archie improved his career record to five-for-11 with the win and increased his earnings to $297,516. Trainer Scott McEneny, a resident of Puslinch, co-owns him with Domenic Chiaravalle of Hamilton, Floyd Marshall of Jarvis, and Martwest Racing Stable of Missisauga.
“That’s what we were kind of hoping for,” McEneny said in his on-air interview. “Just get a nice, easy trip for tonight. We didn’t want to overly push him too much. He’s got a long year so we’ve got to watch how we race him.”
The SBOA Finals were expanded this year to include colts and geldings. The stake is open to three-year-old Ontario-sired trotters and pacers. The SBOA Stakes eliminations for fillies will be held on Saturday, May 14 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The $50,000A finals will both be contested at the same track on Saturday, May 21.
For full race results, click here.
by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink