MILTON, August 27, 2022 – The aptly named Winners Bet got up in the final strides to best stablemate International Man in the $665,000 William Wellwood Memorial and punched his ticket to the prestigious Mohawk Million.
If the Wellwood, for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings, is any indication of what’s in store for the Million, fans will want to circle September 24 on their calendars.
Speed was the name of the game early as Tuscan Prince, Dahlquist Hanover, and Oh Look Magic slugged it out through an opening panel posted in :27.4. Tuscan Prince and Oh Look Magic continued their front-end throwdown in :56.1, as Dexter Dunn, in rein to Winners Bet, watched the action from in fourth.
As the field approached three-quarters, Winners Bet and International Man continued to gather momentum, setting up a stretch showdown between the Domenico Cecere trainees.
Winners Bet, to the outside, was able to wear down a stubborn International Man, the latter a neck in front at the stretch call in 1:25.0, to record a three-quarter length win in a time of 1:54.1.
It was the third straight win for the brown colt, owned by Lindy Farm of Connecticut and Robert Rudolph, who launched his career with a third on June 30 followed by a second on July 22.
Now, the rookie trotter will have the chance to deliver his connections an even bigger prize in the Mohawk Million.
Winners Bet earns an automatic berth, for free, into the race in four weeks. The other nine starting spots were purchased for $100,000.
“It feels really good,” said Dunn, who enjoyed a big night at Mohawk, including piloting Bulldog Hanover to a 1:48.0 score in the second Canadian Pacing Derby elimination. “Domenico is a good friend. I know how hard him and his team work to get his horses right for race day, so a result like that is a good feeling.”
Especially with a youngster still learning the game.
“He’s quite green still,” noted Dunn. “I was really happy with where we got away. We got a good trip after that and a great helmet to follow from Domenico’s other horse.”
Cecere was understandably pleased with the one-two finish.
“I can’t describe [the feeling]. It’s unbelievable. I don’t know why, but I was very relaxed. They always show they are nice horses, and they have a lot of power. I was very confident. It’s fantastic. It’s unbelievable. You work hard and you get the result, it’s way better. He’s fantastic. We’ll keep him healthy as we can and keep doing the best job we can, and he will take care of us. He’s a nice colt and he’s still learning.”
Bred by S R F Stable, Winners Bet was a $200,000 purchase (Hip# 321) at the Lexington Select Sale in October 2021.
He paid $7.20 for tonight’s victory.
The William Wellwood Memorial is in named in honour of one of the most respected and talented horsemen who starred on the WEG circuit and beyond. Inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2001, William Wellwood passed away two years later. His widow, Jean, on hand tonight for the post-race festivities, approached WEG about naming a race in his honour. The former Campbellville Stakes became the William Wellwood Memorial in 2005.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms