MILTON, December 26, 2019 – Woodbine Mohawk Park concluded its 2019 racing season with the traditional Boxing Day matinee on a foggy Thursday.
The $35,000 Valedictory and $35,000 Niagara for three-year-old pacers headlined the 12-race program along with presentations to the season’s leading owner, trainer and driver.
Cheddar Bay prevailed by a nose over Jknr Liketell in a thrilling finish to the Valedictory Series.
Driven by J Harris, Cheddar Bay got away ninth and would pick up cover racing towards the half, eventually sitting second-over and just two-lengths from the top at three-quarters.
Virgin Storm blasted from the rail and posted an opening-quarter of :26.4 before releasing Windsun Ricky and retaking the lead before a half of :56. Conboyville grinded away first-up pressuring the leader at three-quarters in 1:25.1.
In the stretch, Virgin Storm gave a valiant effort, but surrendered the lead in the final-eighth. Cheddar Bay and Jknr Liketell, who had a ground saving trip in fourth, paced by the lead and would hit the line together with Cheddar Bay prevailing in 1:53.4.
Virgin Storm held on for third, while Windsun Ricky was fourth.
A gelded son of Betterthancheddar, Cheddar Bay finished second in last week’s second-leg after a sixth-place finish in the series opener. The Peter Core trainee is now three for 29 this season with $66,924 earned for owners Donald and Heather McGregor.
Cheddar Bay now sports career numbers of four wins and $75,809 in earnings. He paid $23.40 to win.
Arya Stark completed the sweep of the Niagara Series in fitting fashion by rallying from seventh at the head of the line to reach up for a length and a quarter victory in 1:55.4.
Trained by Melissa Lamoureux, Arya Stark got away seventh and would move to the outside at the midway point, but still sat nearly 10 lengths from the lead turning for home. The daughter of Royal Mattjesty and driver Chris Christoforou swept by their rivals to defeat Trip Aces Hanover, Cranberry Brie and Dreamfair Zenfire, who had nearly five on her rivals at three-quarters.
Arya Stark is now seven for 36 in 2019 for Lamoureux, Jeffrey Boyd and Jefferson Davis. The sophomore now sits with $89,662 in earnings this season and career numbers of eight wins and $94,537 in earnings.
A $2 win ticket on Arya Stark returned $4.
Owner Brad Grant and trainer Richard Moreau once again led their respective categories, while Sylvain Filion made a return to the top of the driving ranks.
Brad Grant enjoyed another tremendous season by capturing numerous stakes events, while also winning many Preferred and high-level overnights. The Milton, Ontario resident saw horses he owns win 66 races and earn over $1.6 million during 2019 at Mohawk Park.
1187422 Ontario Inc. finished second in wins with 45, while Robert Key finished with 42 wins.
Serge Godin’s Determination had the second highest earnings in 2019 with $1.3 million, highlighted by 37 victories.
Trainer Richard Moreau again led all conditioners in victories and earnings. The Puslinch, Ontario resident posted 181 wins and $3.6 million in earnings. His stable sent out just over 1,300 starters.
Carmen Auciello finished in the runner-up spot with 137 wins, while the top-five was rounded out by Ben Baillargeon (87), Rod Boyd (86) and Shawn Steacy (52).
Tony Alagna finished second to Moreau in earnings with $3 million, while Auciello ($2.6 million), Nancy Johansson ($2.3 million) and Baillargeon ($2 million) were the only other trainers to surpass $2 million in earnings.
There was no final day drama for leading driver, as Sylvain Filion finished with 267 wins, 42 more than nearest rival Louis Philippe Roy. Bob McClure finished third with 205 wins, while Trevor Henry had 193 and Jonathan Drury 177.
A resident of Milton, Filion also led all drivers in earnings with $5.4 million. Roy also topped $5 million with $5.1 million, while McClure ($4.7 million) and Henry ($4.2 million) were the other drivers to surpass $4 million on the season.
Live racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park now takes a holiday break prior to launching the 2020 season on Saturday, January 4. Post time is 7:10 p.m.