MILTON, AUG. 21, 2020 – When harness racing driverarrived at on Friday, Aug. 21 he was expecting to drive division leading Desperate Man in the second of two $107,200 Series divisions for the two-year-old pacing colts. He did not have a drive in the first Gold division.
Fortunately for Henry, Jack Darling had just learned that Randy Waples was unable to drive Friday and the trainer was in need of a replacement to steer Bulldog Hanover in the first split. Henry was happy to step into the breach and eight races later he had piloted both colts to Gold Series victories.
Starting from the outside Post 9, Henry dropped Bulldog Hanover down to the rail in seventh and sat at the back of the main pack as Lawless Shadow sprinted out to a :26.3 quarter and battled Springbridge Duel to a :55.3 half. Springbridge Duel kept the tempo lively through the 1:23.4 three-quarters as No Bettor Joy and Bulldog Hanover started to advance up the outer lane. Turning for home Henry moved Bulldog Hanover into an open lane and the colt sprinted down the stretch to a three length victory in a personal best 1:52. Favourite Lawless Shadow finished second and Flash Cube was third.
"He raced good for the nine-hole He had a lot of luck, three of them made breaks, and he landed in a good spot, but yeah he raced really well," said Henry. "He's a nice colt."
"Trevor did a good job. When he drew the nine-hole you're kind of expecting the worst, but actually the trip worked out perfect and he got around all the breaking horses," added owner-trainer Darling. "So he got a little bit lucky and ended up getting a good trip, but he raced big too. That was a nice mile."
Bulldog Hanover started hiscampaign at the Grassroots level, finishing second in the July 6 season opener and romping to a five length win in the July 20 leg, both at Woodbine Mohawk Park. With a month in between the second Grassroots leg and Friday's test, Darling gave the Shadow Play son a tightener in an Aug. 11 qualifier, where Bulldog Hanover cruised to an 11 length win in 1:56.
"He's basically been a nice colt all the way through; he just kept getting better and better as we went. He qualified good, he won the Grassroots kind of handy, so we gave him a try in the Gold and it looks like he's a nice Gold horse too," said Cambridge, ON resident Darling. "He's just a nice horse. He's just that cocky type, always feeling good, got lots of try to him, and a beautiful looking horse. Most of the Shadow Plays are great looking horses and he is one of them."
Another good-looking son of Shadow Play, Desperate Man lined up at Post 3 in the second Gold division and left well enough to land in fourth as Bettor Sun and Darling-trainee Avion Seelster hustled to a :26.2 quarter. Bettor Sun marched on to a :55 half, with Henry angling Desperate Man off the rail and catching a windbreak from Ucanttouchthis. As Bettor Sun paced by the 1:23.2 three-quarters, Desperate Man had advanced to third and once the colts squared up in the stretch Henry asked the favourite for another gear and Desperate Man drew away to a one and one-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:51.2. Bettor Sun stayed game for second and Socrates Blue Chip closed to be third.
Two-year-old pacing colt Desperate Man won his third straight Gold Series division
"Tonight he got second-over and kind of got towed up into it," said Henry. "I figured he would be a little short because he hasn't raced in a while, and then the qualifier we had him in he made a break at the gate and he never got a real good workout that day, but he still finds a way to win. Good ones do."
Desperate Man romped to victory in the July 3 Gold Series opener and the July 18 Gold leg, both at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and then dropped into the same Aug. 11 qualifier as Bulldog Hanover for his prep in advance of Friday's start. However, things did not go according to plan for Henry, trainer Kathy Cecchin and her co-owners, husband John Cecchin, daughter Nicole Davies and son-in-law Paul Davies, all from Arthur, ON. Desperate Man made a break behind the starting gate and was never part of the action.
"He was just behind the gate so long, because with the two-year-olds they bring the gate way to the back here and he was behind it for quite a while," Henry explained. "He actually, when I schooled him the once he did it, but then he landed right away and I got away with him, but that day he just didn't land and it was just one of those things. Better going for nothing than when he's going for money."
While Henry does not foresee any long term issues for the colt behind the starting gate, he said it is unlikely Desperate Man will be hustling off the wings this season.
"I don't think you'd want to really rush him out of there, it takes him a while to kind of get in gear; he's a big colt. He'll come to that when he gets older, but for now it takes him a while to get in the motion," said the driver. "He's not maybe as quick off the gate as some of them, but he always, he's quicker home than the rest of them."
The two-year-old pacing colts will make their fourth Gold Series start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 5 before wrapping up their regular season at Flamboro Downs on Oct. 4. The top 10 point earners through the regular season will earn a spot in the $250,000 Super Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Oct. 17.
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