PREVIEW: Standardbreds return with new gate, familiar faces, popular wagers

June 9, 2021

MILTON, June 9, 2021 – The return of live (spectator-free) racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park is coming in hot with full fields, a new starting gate, returning stars and more for an action-packed re-opening weekend.

A total of 22 races will be contested over Friday and Saturday evenings in Campbellville. Each card will offer plenty of full fields, much to the delight of horseplayers, and a Preferred contest to showcase some of the circuit’s top older horses.

The regular wagering menu, headlined by the $100,000 Early Pick-5 (starting Race 1), is back in play for the start of a big-money summer at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Here are a few notes and storylines to watch out for this weekend:

10 WIDE BEHIND NEW SLANTED START CAR

The resumption of live racing will see Woodbine Mohawk Park revert to having horses starting from post position 10 lineup on the outside of the wings, rather than a trailing spot.

The fields will also now lineup behind a new slanted starting gate that offer horses with an outside starting spot more options to potentially use early speed and situate in a more favourable position. Slanted starting gates have been used by several tracks across North America and the new Woodbine vehicle has been used in recent qualifiers.

New Woodbine slanted starting gate used during recent qualifiers.
New Woodbine slanted starting gate during recent qualifiers. (New Image Media)

THE POPULAR $100,000 EARLY PICK-5

Horseplayers from all over have made Woodbine Standardbred’s Early Pick-5 the most popular nightly wager in harness racing. The attractive multi-leg wager will continue to be offered in its regular spot at the start of each race card. The Early Pick-5, which offers a low 15 per cent takeout, has a guaranteed pool of $100,000 nightly and many nights prior to the April 3 lockdown the pool exceeded $120,000, including a $154,425 on the April 1 card.

PREFERRED PACE BATTLES

A pair of Preferred pacing events will take the feature race slot on each of this weekend’s card.

The $30,000 Mares Preferred takes its usual spot on Friday evening with a compact group of six competing, headlined by O’Brien Award winner So Much More. The Don Beatson trained five-year-old won her final two starts prior to the recent shutdown and has two wins, three seconds in six starts this season. Half of her six starts came against male rivals. James MacDonald will take his usual position behind So Much More.

The Mares Preferred group also includes four-year-olds Rose Run Victory and Karma Seelster. The Ashleigh Hensley trained Rose Run Victory made plenty of noise late last season and was this year’s Niagara Series winner. The Gregg McNair trained Karma Seelster makes her season debut after earning $277,570 last season to bring her career earnings to $539,775.

Wheels On Fire is the horse to beat in Saturday’s $34,000 Preferred. The six-year-old returns to Mohawk Park after winning back-to-back Preferred events at The Meadowlands in May. Back in the care of trainer Richard Moreau, Wheels On Fire is five for eight this season and teams with reinsman Doug McNair.

Also returning to Mohawk Park is Points North for trainer Carmen Auciello. The six-year-old was a winner two starts back at Pocono in 1:49.3 and most recently competed in a $100,000 Invitational at Philadelphia.

TOP NA CUP ELIGIBLES TO CLASH

Saturday evening’s third-race will be the first of likely many battles this season between three-year-old pacers Bulldog Hanover and Lawless Shadow. The highly touted Pepsi North America Cup eligible sophomores finishes one-two in last year’s Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final, which saw Bulldog Hanover score a nine-length blowout win in 1:50.2. With the OSS season around the corner and each paid up to Mohawk Park’s Grand Circuit races, fans will have plenty of opportunities to watch this rivalry grow.

The Jack Darling trained Bulldog Hanover won four of six starts as a rookie. The OSS champion’s only two losses came when he finished second in his career debut and when he made a break before the start in OSS Gold event over an “off” track at Flamboro. ‘Bulldog’ tuned up for his season debut with a pair of impressive qualifying scores at Mohawk Park.

Bulldog Hanover winning the OSS Super Final in October 2020.
Bulldog Hanover winning the OSS Super Final in October 2020. (New Image Media)

The Dr. Ian Moore trained Lawless Shadow already has two starts under his belt this season, scoring a pair of victories at Columbus’ Scioto Downs in May. ‘Lawless’ had four wins and three runner-up finishes in nine starts last season. His top victories were scores in the Nassagaweya Stakes and an OSS Gold division, while he also finished third in the $720,000 Metro Pace.

TOP DRIVERS AND TRAINERS IN 2021

Drivers (Wins | Win % | UDRS)

Sylvain Filion – 42 wins, 18.7%, .304
Bob McClure – 37 wins, 17.1%, .276
Doug McNair – 33 wins, 17.9%, .337
Louis-Phillipe Roy – 28 wins, 14%, .253
James MacDonald – 27 wins, 13.8%, .264
Jody Jamieson – 27 wins, 13.8%, .242

Trainers (Wins | Win % | UDRS)

Richard Moreau – 28 wins, 18.1%, .298
Carmen Auciello – 24 wins, 15%, .272
Ben Baillargeon – 13 wins, 18.3%, .286
Bob McIntosh – 10 wins, 28.6%, .400
Ashleigh Hensley – 8 wins, 17.8%, .306

SCHEDULE, WATCH AND WAGER

Fans and horseplayers can watch and wager on this weekend’s races from Woodbine Mohawk Park through HPIbet.com. Free programs and live streaming of all racing from Woodbine Mohawk Park can be found at www.WoodbineMohawkPark.com.

Woodbine Racing Live’s pre-game show will start Friday evening at 6:20 p.m.

Following re-opening weekend, live racing will take place every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Post time for each card is 7 p.m.

Follow the conversation and receive updates through Woodbine Mohawk Park’s social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) by following @WoodbineSB. Use the hashtag #BetWoodbineSB and #BackOnTrack.

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