Milton, ON — Hambletonian champion Forbidden Trade returned to Ontario Sires Stakes action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday evening (Aug. 12) and posted his second Gold Series win of the season.
In their first start since the two-heat Hambletonian on Aug. 3, Forbidden Trade and driver Bob McClure lined up at post one in Monday’s $80,256 Gold Series division and got away third as All Wrapped Up and Cool Clifford battled to a :27.3 opening quarter.
McClure sent Forbidden Trade after the leaders heading for the :57 half, but All Wrapped Up and driver Louis-Philippe Roy had no interest in yielding to the heavy favorites. The pair matched strides past the 1:24.3 three-quarters and on down the stretch until Forbidden Trade got a head in front of All Wrapped Up to claim the 1:53 victory. Cool Clifford finished 3-3/4 lengths behind the dueling leaders in third.
“In the Hambletonian he got two nice trips and well, tonight I drove him absolutely terrible and he still won, so it just shows how nice a horse he is,” said McClure. “All class, heart, whatever, he’s the whole package.”
“He’s a special horse for sure,” added trainer Luc Blais. “It was a tough mile, he came first over and he battled until the wire. The horse of Mr. (Rob) Fellows (All Wrapped Up) was good tonight, he fought at the wire too. That was a good race.”
The win was Forbidden Trade’s second on the 3-year-old trotting colt Gold Series circuit and his sixth of the season. Through his nine sophomore starts the Kadabra colt has earned $671,484, and with the $236,244 he earned in his division leading 2-year-old season, he has now banked $907,728 for owner Determination of Montreal, QC.
“Me and Luc (Blais) were looking at him after the race and I made a joke to Luc, I said, ‘Geez he’s getting a little fat Luc,’” said McClure with a laugh. “He looks great. He doesn’t look like a horse that’s been through what he has, he looks fresh and happy and healthy and he’s got a nice belly on him. It’s amazing how well he came out of that race (Hambletonian).
“He gets a well-deserved break now,” McClure added.
Forbidden Trade will enjoy some time in the paddock at Blais’ Campbellville farm before resuming his stakes schedule in September. Woodbine Mohawk Park hosts the Simcoe Stakes for 3-year-old trotting colts on Sept. 6 and the Canadian Trotting Classic on Sept. 13, followed by the last regular season Gold Series event on Sept. 26. The top 10 point earners from the regular season will then wrap up their Ontario Sires Stakes careers in the Oct. 12 Super Final.
“We’re going to concentrate on the end of the year, it will be a very intense couple of months,” said Blais, adding that Forbidden Trade has the advantage of not having to travel for the Canadian Trotting Classic or the Breeders Crown, which Woodbine Mohawk Park will host on Oct. 26. “He’s got his own paddock and he loves that you know. When we came back from New Jersey, he was happy to come back home.”
After scoring his first Gold Series win of the sophomore campaign in Monday’s other $80,256 division, trainer Shane Arsenault is hoping that Knight Angel will have enough points to join Forbidden Trade in the season-ending Super Final.
Starting from post two, Knight Angel and driver Doug McNair stalked fan favorite Southwind Avenger through fractions of :28, :57.2 and 1:26 before finding an opening in the stretch and sprinting home to a neck victory in 1:54.4. Southwind Avenger settled for second and While Your Up was two lengths back in third.
“My dad (Lou Arsenault) once told me, he said, ‘There’s nothing like winning a horse race to make you feel good,’ and that’s so true,” said Arsenault, who celebrated in the winner’s circle with his co-owners Justin Fisher, Gary Leeming and Giuseppe Mascia. “Tonight we’re pretty ecstatic.”
Arsenault added that the win, Knight Angel’s fifth of the season, might even be enough to erase the memory of the hospital stay he endured courtesy of the Archangel son in the fall of 2017.
“It’s been quite a road with Knight Angel. I bought him out of London and I brought him home, was working with him the next day and everything was fine, and then I went to work with him again and he put the boots to me and I ended up in the hospital for a couple days with a broken pelvis,” Arsenault recalled. “I think after tonight he’s redeemed himself.
“It was a bumpy start and now — it took us almost two full years — but I’m going to forgive him now,” said Arsenault with a chuckle.
The trainer noted that Knight Angel still has his feisty moments, but has largely settled into a steady routine. He has also been fairly steady in Gold Series action, recording one third, one fourth and one fifth in addition to Monday’s win for a total of 75 points, good enough for sixth spot in the standings heading into the last regular season event.