MILTON, December 26, 2018 – The 2018 Woodbine Standardbred season concluded Wednesday afternoon with an 11-race card at Mohawk Park, featuring a pair of series finals for three-year-old pacers and award presentations to the season’s top performers.
A field of eight colts and geldings battled in the $34,400 Valedictory final, while a field of seven fillies clashed in the $32,600 Niagara final.
Phantom Seelster capped off 2018 as the hottest horse at Woodbine Mohawk Park by running his win streak to six in a row with a 1:51.4 victory in the $34,400 Valedictory Series final.
Driven by Bob McClure, Phantom Seelster took his time in the beginning and got away fourth. Legal Power and driver Doug McNair wanted control and claimed the top spot to post opening fractions of :27.3 and :56.3.
Phantom Seelster committed first up nearing the half and that gave McNair his cue to try and pace away at the top with Legal Power, who paced a :27.2 third-quarter to create a few lengths of separation turning for home.
In the stretch, Phantom Seelster put his work boots on to track down and charge by Legal Power to win by 2 ¾ lengths in a career-best equaling 1:51.4. Legal Power held second, while Larrys Petrock was third and R Bazingga fourth.
Trained by Richard Moreau, Phantom Seelster six-race win streak came all in series events by sweeping the Harvest Series in November and the Valedictory in December. The gelded son of Mach Three is now six for 20 this season to bring his career numbers to nine wins and $133,135 for owners Gestion Mastel Inc, Conrad Leber and Marcel Barrieau.
A $2 win ticket on Phantom Seelster returned $3.40.
The $32,600 Niagara Series final was filled with drama, as a thrilling stretch battle led to a length inquiry and disqualification of the winner.
Odds On Stephanie and driver Doug McNair shot out to the lead and cut the mile, posting fractions of :29.1, :59.1 and 1:27.3. Lyons Hedgeabet and driver Bob McClure came first up from fourth to challenge the leader turning for home.
In the stretch, Lyons Hedgeabet pushed forward to take a narrow lead, but Odds On Stephanie wouldn’t go away and battled back. The fillies battled side by side to the line with Lyons Hedgeabet winning by a nose.
The AGCO Judges posted the inquiry sign and reviewed the stretch battle, determining that Lyons Hedgeabet interfered with Odds On Stephanie at the rail and reversed the top-two finishers.
Odds On Stephanie went off as the second-choice at 7/2 behind Lyons Hedgeabet at 3/5.
Owned by Odds On Racing, Odds On Stephanie finished fourth in the series’ second leg after finishing second in round one. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere picks up her third win 17 starts this season and increases her career earnings to $66,128 after racing just once as a two-year-old.
Odds On Stephanie was sent to the barn of Richard Moreau for Niagara Series from trainer Tony Alagna. A $2 win ticket on Odds On Stephanie returned $9.20.
Sophomore pacers, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2018, were eligible for nomination to the Valedictory and Niagara Series.
Woodbine Entertainment took time during Wednesday’s card to recognize its top owner, trainer and driver for the 2018 racing season.
Brad Grant led all owners during the 2018 season in wins and earnings on the Woodbine Entertainment circuit. The Milton, Ontario resident finished the year with 51 wins and $1.2 million in earnings.
Grant’s top horses in 2018 included Hambletonian champion Atlanta, Preferred star Easy Lover Hanover and multiple-stakes winner Captain Ahab.
Richard Moreau captured his fourth consecutive Woodbine Standardbred training title. The Puslinch, Ontario resident sent out more than 1,200 starters in 2018 and led all conditioners with 208 wins and $3.7 million in earnings.
Moreau was recently named a finalist for the O’Brien Award as Canada’s Trainer of the Year, an award he has won in each of the last five years.
Louis Philippe Roy did not compete on Wednesday’s program, but the Mont-Joli, Quebec native did claim his first Woodbine Entertainment driving title. Roy made 288 trips to the winner’s circle and drove the winners of more than $5.5 million in 2018.
Roy’s big year could lead to another accomplishment, as he was recently named a finalist for the O’Brien Award as Canada’s Driver of the Year.
Live racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park now takes a short-break over the holidays before resuming on Saturday, January 5 at 7:10 p.m. The 2019 live racing season will feature 221 race dates.