MILTON, August 27, 2020 – If Thursday’s start to “Grand Circuit Month” at Woodbine Mohawk Park is any preview, the team of Determination, Luc Blais and Bob McClure is going to have a lot of fun.
Determination, Blais and McClure struck for a Champlain hat-trick, winning three of Thursday’s four divisions for two-year-old trotters.
The trio’s rookie star Macho Martini improved to six for six with a 1:55.3 victory in the $93,760 second Champlain division for colts and geldings.
Macho Martini was one of several leavers in the early going and McClure opted to stay on the outside work his way to the lead, clearing Tokyo Seelster shortly after that rookie posted a :27.3 opening-quarter.
The middle-half saw Macho Martini lead through panels of :57.1 and 1:27 to lead comfortably into the lane. Warrawee Whisper grinded away to get close to the leader on the outside, while Tokyo Seelster was locked in behind looking for room up the rail.
Macho Martini cruised home :28.3 to give his rivals a bit of hope, but ultimately prevailing by three-quarters of a length over Warrawee Whisper and a length and a half over Tokyo Seelster.
“I was playing it by ear, but I definitely wanted to make sure if I could get him to the front,” said McClure post-race. “Because of the headwind, it’s very tough to make up ground…so I figured I’d get there and be the one they had to track down.
“He was coasting through the wire and still had the plugs in, he’s doing it real easy.”
A son of Muscle Mass, Macho Martini six wins include triumphs in three Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events and the Millard Farms Trotting Series final. The $37,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase has already earned $240,513 for his connections.
Macho Martini was the third of Thursday’s three wins for the Determination, Blais and McClure team.
“I’m very fortunate that Determination has a very exceptional group of two-year-old trotters,” said McClure. “It’s nice to see for the Determination Stable, Serge Godin, because he deserves it and it’s get for Luc, he works hard.”
The first win of the evening for the trio saw Donna Soprano improve to three for three with another powerful-looking performance in the first $86,665 Champlain division for fillies.
Driver Bob McClure was in no hurry with Donna Soprano, as the pair got away fifth in a field of eight. Rubys Are Nice did the heavy lifting, leading through fractions of :27.4, :57 and 1:26.1.
You Will Be Queen made the first-up bid going around the far turn and McClure latched onto that rookie to sit second-over Donna Soprano.
In the stretch, Donna Soprano kicked off cover and did some serious trotting into a strong headwind. The undefeated filly put in an awkward stride with an eighth of a mile remaining, but kept her momentum going and mowed down Rubys Are Nice to win by a length in 1:55.2. You Will Be Queen finished third.
“Her gait wasn’t a 100 per cent tonight,” said McClure following the victory with Donna Soprano. “It has been every other week, so it’s probably something very minor. These two-year-olds are growing and changing every week.
“It was a very impressive performance tonight because with this headwind it’s extremely tough to make up ground and she just keeps digging, I was never real worried about her getting there, she usually trots through the wire and around the turn and is hard to pull up.”
A daughter of Donato Hanover, Donna Soprano has earned $95,582 through three starts and three wins for owner Determination. She is the fourth foal out of $1.2 million winning mare Windsong Soprano and was a $190,000 Harrisburg purchase.
Donna Soprano paid $2.30 to win.
Dicentra made it a clean sweep of the filly events, posting a coast-to-coast victory in 1:57.2.
McClure put the daughter of Muscle Mass on the lead in the field of six and she got full respect, posting panels of :29, :59.2 and 1:29.1. The stretch drive saw her kick home in :28.1 through the headwind for a victory of a length and a half.
“She felt amazing,” said McClure of Dicentra. “After the fractions we got away with it was her race to win or lose and she won it pretty handily, she’s a real nice filly.”
Midnight Miracle finished second, while Spruce Creek was third.
A homebred for trainer Luc Blais, Dicentra now has three wins and $110,890 earned in six starts. She is a full sister to $700,000 winner On A Sunny Day.
A $2 win ticket on Dicentra returned $2.60.
The only winner not from the Determination crew came early in the evening.
Lucky Rascal got things his own way in the first $93,759 Champlain split for two-year-old trotters, fighting off pressure in the lane for a 1:56.3 maiden-breaking victory.
Driven by Sylvain Filion, Lucky Rascal stepped out to the lead in the field of six and posted a :28.3 opener before backing things down for a 1:00 middle-half. Full Of Muscle came first-up from third going to three-quarters and applied pressure down the lane, but was never getting by a strong Lucky Rascal.
The Ben Baillargeon trained Lucky Rascal stopped the clock in 1:56.3 to win by a length over the public’s top choice Full Of Muscles. On A Streak was third.
“I thought he was a nice colt training down,” said Baillargeon. “Him and Sylvain (Filion) had a few issues right at that beginning, but now they’re okay.
“When he got to the front I was very happy, I was hoping Sylvain would get him to the front, I didn’t think right off the bat, maybe a quarter-mile move, but he drives and he does what he wants and the horse was ready.”
A gelded son of Father Patrick, Lucky Rascal was winless in three starts prior, but now exits the Champlain with a victory on his record and $56,359 in the bank this season for owners Santo and Nunzio Vena. He was a $35,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase.
Lucky Rascal paid $10.10 to win.
Stakes action continues all weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park with two Casual Breeze divisions and two eliminations for the Goodtimes taking place Friday. The $1 million Pepsi North America Cup headlines a $2.4 million card on Saturday.
Post time for Friday’s card is 7 p.m., while the first-race Saturday goes at 6:30 p.m.