Baillargeon equipped for strong showing in New Holland Series finalsMarch 23, 2023,
Milton, ON — Trainer Ben Baillargeon will send out a talented trio in the New Holland Pacing and Trotting Series finals, Saturday night (March 25) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Sponsored by New Holland Agriculture, the series, which began on March 6 and March 11, for trotters and pacers, respectively, is open to horses of any age that were non-winners of C$150,000 (fillies and mares C$175,000) in 2022. Each series features two C$30,000 preliminary legs and a C$60,000 added money final.
Baillargeon will be represented in both finals, including a pair of pacers, namely, Nautical Hanover and Commanding Officer, in the evening’s seventh race, which has attracted 10 contenders.
A 4-year-old son of Captaintreacherous, Nautical Hanover, in rein to James MacDonald, took the only dash for the second leg of the New Holland Pacing Series on Saturday (March 18), after a half-length score in the first leg on March 11.
In the latter, MacDonald roused Nautical Hanover from fifth and took control off the turn en route to a 1-3/4 length win over stablemate Commanding Officer in 1:51.1. Armor Seelster was third.
“James said he was even better than the week before,” noted Baillargeon. “Last time out, he came first over and James said that he pulled and he just went on his own. The first week, James didn’t know much about him. After the race, he said, ‘Nice horse. He never grabbed the line until I tapped him.’ But last week, he grabbed it on his own. That was good.”
Baillargeon, who has recorded over 2,600 career training wins, has no shortage of superlatives for the bay bred by Hanover Shoe Farms and owned by Richard Berthiaume.
“He’s a monster right now. When I first started with him, he was making noises the first couple starts. I gave him a couple of months. We had his throat operated on. The tie-forward surgery was done by Dr. Marc Desjardins in Milton. He’s a different horse since then. His breathing is fine. The surgery worked. It doesn’t always, but in this case, it did.”
The stallion brings a record of 7-5-8 from 35 starts with a bankroll of $258,404.
“He’s such a beautiful horse. We thought we’d have to pay $100,000, for what he was on paper, but we ended up paying more ($180,000) probably just because of his looks. He’s a real good-looking horse. He has a perfect gait and he’s a looker. Seeing him come down the lane last week, he impressed.”
After a fifth in the curtain-raiser of the New Holland, Commanding Officer, sent off at 36-1, rallied stoutly to secure second behind stablemate Nautical Hanover in the prelude to the final.
Also a son of Captaintreacherous, and also owned by Berthiaume, Commanding Officer was bred by Riverview Breeding, Visionary Breeders, and Minisink Farms. In 66 lifetime starts, the 5-year-old bay has fashioned a mark of 14-6-11, to go along with $226,164 in career earnings.
“He’s a nice horse. Against these horses, he needs a trip. He likes to follow, and he can come home in :26 or :27. If you treat him well, he’ll respond well for you. I was very happy with his effort last week. He’s always been a horse that tries hard, and you know that he will come home strong,” said Baillargeon.
Nautical Hanover will leave from post eight. Commanding Officer, with Tyler Jones once again in the race bike, has post 10.
Baillargeon’s hope in the New Holland Trotting Series comes in the form of HP Mama B. The 5-year-old daughter of Royalty For Life arrives at the final off a third-place performance in one of the second legs of the series, a race won by Per Engblom trainee Sermon.
“The first race, we can throw that one out,” said Baillargeon of a troubled eighth-place finish in the first New Holland dash. “But I was happy with the race last week. It was a good trip, but that other horse, Sermon, is a very nice horse. When he behaves, he’s a very good horse and he proved that last week. My mare came home in :26.4 and couldn’t get close to him. She’s a quarter-pole mover, so hopefully, she gets a good trip. I was very pleased with her last race and the way she came home I couldn’t ask for more than that.”
After an outstanding campaign that yielded an O’Brien Award nomination for top trotting mare in Canada, HP Mama B recorded her first win of 2023 on Jan. 9, once again besting her male counterparts, in a $20,720 race at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
A standout in the Ontario Sires Stakes scene at three, HP Mama B carried her strong form into her 4-year-old season, where she earned north of $135,000, and got the better of her male rivals on six occasions. On Saturday, she’ll leave from post four in race five on the 13-race card. Louis-Philippe Roy once again gets the call. Baillargeon’s wife, Guylaine Picard, co-owns HP Mama B with Celine Paquin.