TORONTO, August 29, 2018 – English Illusion kicked off Canadian Millions Sales Stakes Night on Wednesday at Woodbine Racetrack, upsetting defending champion Johnny Bear in the OLG Halton Stakes presented by Tipperary Equestrian.
A runner-up to Johnny Bear in last year’s 1-1/2 mile turf event, English Illusion prevailed this year by 1-1/2 lengths in 2:29.72 racing for trainer Sylvain Pion and 4U Thoroughbred Racing Stable Inc. Claimed for $45,000 from his last start on August 5, the five-year-old English Channel-Stormy Illusion gelding provided an immediate return on investment to his new connections taking the lion’s share of the $100,000 purse.
The field of six raced in pairs for most of the race with English Illusion and jockey Rafael Hernandez outside of Johnny Bear and Luis Contreras mid-pack. Meanwhile, Eminent Force set the pace with Ethical Funds stalking through fractions of :25.51, :50.97, 1:15.27, 1:39.78 and 2:04.12.
Turning for home, English Illusion fanned out three-wide and struck the front in the stretch with Johnny Bear locked and loaded behind horses. The defending champion eventually found a clear path but had to settle for the runner-up role as English Illusion got the jump on his foes and forged on to victory.
A claim of foul in the stretch on the winner from Johnny Bear’s jockey was disallowed by the judges.
“That’s was amazing! We’ve been waiting for three years to run in a race like that. It was incredible,” said co-owner Dave Robinson, who also praised Pion and Hernandez.
Bred by Douglas J. Reddington, English Illusion now boasts $263,622 in career earnings with a lifetime record reading 4-2-5 from 26 starts.
Sent off as the 8-1 fourth choice on the toteboard, English Illusion paid $19.40, $4.80 and $3. He combined with 1-2 favourite Johnny Bear ($2.20, $2.10) for a 5-1 exacta worth $45.20.
King and His Court ($2.60) edged out Eminent Force in a photo for show and they completed the trifecta and superfecta, which returned $64.80 and $90.05 respectively for $1 tickets.
Ethical Funds and Mick the Conqueror rounded out the order of finish.