Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final winner Spring check-in

Toronto, ON — It might not feel like it, but according to the calendar spring started this week, and that means stakes season is right around the corner.

With that in mind, we checked in with last year’s Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final winners to see how they are preparing for their return to the racetrack.

2022 Two-Year-Old winners

Pacing Colts: Stockade Seelster (State Treasurer)

Stockade Seelster had a freshman season to remember. The O’Brien and Dan Patch divisional winner earned $686,268, paced the fastest 2-year-old mile in OSS history, and won the Metro Pace.

“He had a nice long rest. He was off from his last race until Jan. 23,” said trainer Dr. Ian Moore. “He did grow tall late in the fall, and now he’s filled out. He has a nice chest on him. He was slim before, and he’s come right around that way.”

Stockade Seelster will qualify a few times in the U.S. and at Woodbine Mohawk Park, before targeting the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association elimination as his pari-mutuel return.

“Hopefully he will come back better than he was as a 2-year-old because no doubt he will have to,” said Moore. “There will be a lot of top 3-year-olds showing up that we may not even have heard of as 2-year-olds but will be great as 3-year-olds, so hopefully he shows up and competes.”

After the SBOA if all goes to plan Stockade Seelster will target the marquee race of the early summer calendar, the C$1 million Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Pacing Fillies: Cheesy Smile (Betterthancheddar)

Cheesy Smile picked up four wins in six OSS starts during a rookie season where she earned $237,018.

Trainer John Pentland sent Cheesy Smile to Cimeron Farms in Mossley, Ont., after her season ended on Super Final night, and she returned to his farm in early December.

“She is training back really good so far, she’s around in (2:20) right now and there is no issue at all,” said Pentland. “I like to hang them around 25 and 30 for five or six weeks. Then I feel like I have enough foundation in them that I can’t really screw them up from there.”

Cheesy Smile will look to build on her OSS success this season.

“We will take our crack at the Grand Circuit ones that are up here,” said Pentland. “We might be a bit of a fringe player, but she was as good as anyone in Ontario anyways, and if she comes back a little bit better and some of the other ones aren’t quite as good, she should be able to play with most of them anyways.”

Trotting Colts: DW’s Point Man (My MVP)

DW’s Point Man won a thrilling Super Final where the lead changed three times between three horses in the last quarter- mile, to cap off a season where he made the most of his four OSS starts, winning two other times and banking $185,398 in 10 season’s starts.

A month after the Super Final, he was at Jaques Dupont’s farm in Quebec, where he has been turned out since January.

“He has been training in (2:)15 lately and he has been training really good, and he has grown a lot,” said Jaques’ daughter, Marie-Helene. “He was a skinny horse, but he has gained weight, and looks better so hopefully he is stronger.”

DW’s Point Man will plan to qualify in late April or early May, and prepare for the anticipation that comes with a horse trying tp replicate their freshman success as a sophomore.

“You see him getting better every day, and changing every day,” said Marie-Helene. “It’s not like training a claimer who is already racing, and you know what they are. As a 3-year-old you have lots of expectation and hope for them, it’s the excitement to see how fast they can go.”

Trotting Fillies: Righteous Resolve (Resolve)

The O’Brien Award winner for 2-year-old trotting fillies, Righteous Resolve was nearly flawless during her outstanding rookie campaign. She won eight of ten starts, and had a second and a third, for a perfect 10-for-10 on the board finishes.

The Matt Bax trainee is wintering in Florida, and will ship back to Ontario on April 1, to continue preparing for her 3-year-old season.

“You hope they get a little bigger, stronger, and tougher each year. But it’s nice if you made the money as a 2-year-old, and you know she is a nice horse; there is less pressure as a 3-year-old,” said Bax. “Now you’re just having fun every time she races. We look forward to racing her, and I know the owners look forward to going to her races.”

2022 Three-Year-Old winners

Pacing Colts: Cold Creek Queso (Betterthancheddar)

Cold Creek Queso came on strong at the end of his 3-year-old campaign, emerging from a crowded division to win the final Gold leg and earn the bettors’ trust as the odds-on favorite in his Super Final victory.

He made one more start after the Super Final, before shutting down after a season where he banked over C$180,000 in the OSS alone.

“He was out in the field, and he’s been back training for a while now, trained him in (1:)57 recently,” said Murray Brethour. “I plan to qualify him on (March 24), and he’s paid into the Graduate Series at Mohawk.”

Brethour is appreciative of Mohawk’s new Ontario Sired Graduate Series, which begins on April 14, giving horses like Cold Creek Queso the chance to get their feet wet in a new season against other horses their own age.

“The 4-year-old year is the toughest year in racing, so it’s a good way to start,” said Brethour. “The older horses are a lot tougher. If you think horses age is times four, they’re only 16, going against horses that are five, six, and seven with the same math.”

Pacing Fillies: Silver Label (Bettor’s Delight)

Part of the three-headed monster from Millar Farms’ 2019 crop of fillies, Silver Label won six times in 2022 and just missed the board in a Breeders Crown final where less than a length separated the top four finishers.

She stayed in Kentucky after a Nov. 10 start at Dover Downs, and returned north of the border to trainer Nick Gallucci in January.

“She came back looking really good,” said Gallucci. “She progressed really well from two to three, so I am hoping she progresses the same from three to four. At the end of the day there isn’t too much I can do to help her, just hope she has everything moving forward, and is stronger overall, and more seasoned.”

Silver Label is also targeting the Graduate Series for her return to the racetrack.

“It’s really nice that we have a transition race for these 3, coming 4-year-olds,” said Gallucci. “Especially ones like her that have made a lot of money; there is nowhere you can race them other than in the Preferred or the Open. So, it’s nice they can transition back into races against horses their own age and caliber.”

Trotting Colts: Safe Conduct (Archangel)

Safe Conduct trotted home in :27.3 to win a thrilling Super Final after going off at 10-1. The win punished him over $200,000 in earnings and was his fifth on the board finish in five OSS starts as a 3-year-old.

Trained by Camilla Christoforou, the gelding made his last start in the Super Final and is preparing for the Ontario Sired Graduate Series, which starts the weekend of April 14, to kick off a carefully managed first season in the older ranks.

“It’s his 4-year-old season and other than the series he will have to race against seasoned higher class veterans; we are not looking to over race him this year,” said Christoforou. “Therefore, we will take it from week to week when managing his racing schedule.”

Trotting Fillies: Mischevious Rose (Muscle Mass)

Mischevious Rose earned $216,275 in her sophomore campaign, proving tough at the OSS and open stakes level. Her Super Final win featured a blazing fast final quarter, trotting home in :26.4 to win by a half-length, and she was third in a pair of Grand Circuit stakes — the Simcoe and the Casual Breeze.

“She had a good break, and I think she came back stronger,” said trainer Luc Blais. “She looks stronger, and is feeling good. I’m very excited to bring her back this year.”

Like her fellow Super Final winners, she is targeting the Graduate Series at Mohawk as her season’s debut.

“It will be a good beginning,” said Blais. “She won’t have to start in the aged mare. It’s a good race. I am very pleased they are doing a race like that in Ontario.”

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