Hightstown, NJ — Matt Bax will send out Hambletonian-eligible trotters Southwind Coors and Snowpiercer in Friday’s eliminations of the Goodtimes Stakes for 3-year-olds at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Their performances in the event could determine whether they are part of the Hambo conversation in the weeks that follow.
“The Goodtimes is their test,” said the 34-year-old Bax, who has taken over from his father, John, as the lead trainer of the family’s stable. “If they get to the final and show really well, then that’s when we’ll talk about (the Hambletonian). It all comes down to their performances in their next two starts.”
Sixteen 3-year-old male trotters were entered in the Goodtimes, requiring two C$30,000 eliminations. The top-five finishers from each eight-horse group will advance to the final on June 17 at Mohawk.
Southwind Coors is among six Hambletonian eligibles in the first elimination, along with 2022 Breeders Crown champion Gaines Hanover, Ontario stakes-winners Tuscan Prince and Osceola, Kentucky stakes-winner Challenger and Grand Circuit stakes-placed Dahlquist Hanover. The $1 million Hambletonian, the sport’s premier event for 3-year-old trotters, is Aug. 5 at The Meadowlands.
In his most recent start on May 25, Southwind Coors breezed to victory by 9-1/2 lengths in 1:53 in a conditioned trot at Mohawk. It was his second career win to go with seven additional top-three finishes in 14 career starts. He has earned $78,188 for owners Bax Stable, Glengate Farms, David Hudson, and Craig Wilson.
“He was a really nice horse last year, but he wasn’t very mature,” Bax said. “He’s very quick, he’s got high-end speed, but mentally maybe he didn’t want to go past the last horse.
“Judging by the last start, he’s kind of figured out what racing is about. We’re pretty excited about how he’s coming into the race. I think he’s in top form. Hopefully, he can carry that out through the year.”
Southwind Coors, a son of Walner-Southwind Cabaret, was purchased for $65,000 at the 2021 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. He is a full brother to Grand Circuit winner El Toro Loco and his family, including extended family, also includes stakes-winners Southwind Catlin, Flawless Bluestone, Spider Blue Chip, Broadway Schooner, and Cooler Schooner.
“We had his sister (Southwind Casha),” Bax said. “She was a nice, fast filly, but she didn’t have very good front legs on her. He’s correct. We kind of thought we stole him for $65,000 at the sale knowing how much speed the family has. Being a Walner doesn’t hurt, either.”
Southwind Coors and driver James MacDonald will start from post five Friday. The gelding is 5-1 on the morning line. Gaines Hanover, leaving from post seven with Louis-Philippe Roy in the sulky for trainer Richard Moreau, is the 2-1 favorite.
Snowpiercer is among three Hambletonian eligibles in the second Goodtimes elim, along with Ontario stakes-winner Ghostly Casper and Djimon.
In 2022, Snowpiercer had a win on the Ontario Sire Stakes circuit and finished second in the Super Final, beaten a nose by DW’s Point Man.
“He had a very good year last year,” Bax said. “He maybe doesn’t have the high-end speed Southwind Coors has, but he’s a big, strong, nice-gaited horse. If he gets the right kind of trip, he can be right there with them.”
Snowpiercer finished third in his 2023 debut in an elimination of the SBOA Stakes, then fourth in the final and fourth in an Ontario Sire Stakes Gold division. For his career, he has hit the board in nine of 14 races and earned $151,157.
“There is a tough group of 3-year-old colts up here in Ontario,” Bax said. “I think when we get him 100 percent, he had a little bit of allergies in his last start, if we get him on the right track, he can go with this bunch.”
Snowpiercer, a son of Muscle Mass-Wheely Quick, is owned by Bax Stable, Brad Grant, David Anderson, and Richard Gutnick. He was purchased for $130,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and his siblings include New York stakes-winner White Cheetah and Pennsylvania circuit standout Killer Instinct. The family also includes 2012 Dan Patch/O’Brien awards-winner Wheeling N Dealin.
“My father and I thought Snowpiercer was the best Ontario-bred colt in the sale,” Bax said. “We were only supposed to go to 100 (thousand) and ended up getting him for 130. I think he’s already paid us back, so it worked out.”
Snowpiercer and driver Paul MacDonell will start from post seven. The colt is 8-1 on the morning line. Ghostly Casper, with Sylvain Filion driving for Benoit Baillargeon, is the 3-1 favorite from post five.
Friday’s Mohawk card also includes two C$35,000 eliminations of the Roses Are Red Stakes for older female pacers. Grace Hill and Treacherous Dragon are the favorites.
Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. For free past performances, visit the track’s website here.