TORONTO, August 30 – Johnny Bear and jockey Luis Contreras kicked off Canadian Millions Night on Wednesday at Woodbine Racetrack with a victory in the $125,000 OLG/OR Halton Stakes, presented by Tipperary Equestrian, for three-year-olds and up.
The turf event, expanded this year to a distance of 1-1/2 miles, is the first of six stakes featuring Canadian Premier Yearling Sale graduates on the eve of the 2017 sale that will be held on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 11:30 a.m. at the Woodbine Sales Pavilion.
Trained by Ashlee Brnjas for owners Coolbrook Farms and Bear Stables Ltd., Johnny Bear prevailed off a ground-saving trip in 2:27.20. The six-year-old chestnut gelding followed the popular race leader, Eminent Force (Jesse Campbell), through a mile in 1:40.22 while Ethical Funds (David Moran) loomed outside in second. Down the stretch, Johnny Bear shot through along the rail and opened up three and a quarter lengths on top to score the victory. English Illusion (Eurico Rosa Da Silva) came on to finish second over Eminent Force and Ethical Funds. Kaigun and Strut N Stomp completed the field.
Sent postward as the 9-2 third choice in the wagering, Johnny Bear paid $11.40 to win.
Bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm, the son of English Channel out the stakes-winning mare In Return was the 2012 sales topper with a $275,000 price tag. He is a full brother to this year’s Breeders Stakes champion Channel Maker.
Johnny Bear has won half of his eight seasonal starts and now sports a career summary reading 6-7-5 from 32 races with over $325,000 in purse earnings.