Milton, ON — Venerate and driver Andrew McCarthy powered off cover at the head of the stretch to win the C$1,320,000 Mohawk Million on Saturday night (Sept. 26) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
A full field of ten rookie trotters, including three fillies, met in the inaugural Mohawk Million, a “buy-in” race with nine slots available for the purchase of $110,000 each and a final slot awarded to the winner of the William Wellwood Memorial.
Racing in the slot of Brad Grant, Marvin Katz and partners, Venerate overcame a second-tier start with a perfect steer from McCarthy to win in 1:53.2. The Julie Miller trainee got away eighth and was able to follow the favorite Donna Soprano, eventually muscling by the previously undefeated filly to win by three-quarters of a length.
“I was hoping I’d get out of there a little closer, but after scoring him down I knew I couldn’t make him accelerate too fast, so I just wanted to get out of there upright,” said McCarthy. “He’s a very strong horse, I’ve seen that, I didn’t really care how far back I got, just figured I’d have to get through that first turn and then worry about where I’m going from there.
“The speed was pretty tough early, so it worked out where I could end up getting a pretty good trip, but when I looked up at the eighth-pole I was a long away back.”
The opening stages of the race saw several horses leaving hard, causing a four-wide push into the first turn. Altar cut a :27 opening quarter before handing the lead over to Wellwood winner On A Streak, who was four-wide entering the turn. Race-favorite Donna Soprano got away sixth, while Venerate was eighth.
On A Streak led to the half in :56.1 just as Insta Glam came with a powerful rush to claim the top spot going into the final turn. Donna Soprano got her cue to go just before the half, as did Venerate and McCarthy seeing an opportunity to follow the favorite.
Insta Glam trotted a strong third quarter to get the field to that station in 1:24 with a few lengths of separation.
In the stretch, Donna Soprano and Venerate trotted by Insta Glam to set up a battle of their own. The filly Donna Soprano tried to hold on, but the colt Venerate was too much to handle, powering by to victory. On A Streak finished third, while Insta Glam was fourth.
“I’m so thankful for Andy and Julie and Pinske Stable,” said McCarthy. “And to Brad (Grant) for deciding to use me on this horse, I’m so thankful.”
A son of French stallion Love You, Venerate is owned by Pinske Stables and Andy Miller Stable. The connections negotiated a private deal with slot owner Brad Grant, Marvin Katz and partners to take a shot at the Mohawk Million.
“It makes me look pretty smart I guess,” laughed Grant. “We really believed in this race when we bought our slot. What Woodbine has done is something new and I think it’s great, it had a buzz to it all year long.”
Venerate is now four for seven and adds the winner’s share of the C$1,320,000 purse to his previously earned C$188,766.
The victory for driver McCarthy gives him a sweep of harness racing’s two richest races in 2020. McCarthy won the $1 million Hambletonian on Aug. 8 with Ramona Hill at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.
“It feels amazing just to be involved in a race like this,” said McCarthy. “It’s important to hold races like this, it draws a lot of attention and hopefully it hangs around for next year.”
The inaugural Mohawk Million was the richest Standardbred race contested in Canada since the 2012 Pepsi North America Cup. The inaugural race headlined a C$2.8 million card, which included the C$720,000 Metro Pace for 2-year-old colts, C$455,000 She’s A Great Lady for 2-year-old filly pacers and C$215,000 Milton for pacing mares.
A $2 win ticket on Venerate returned $6.80.
Exploit delivers Metro Pace stunner
Exploit and driver Doug McNair stole the spotlight from Tony Alagna stablemate Abuckabett Hanover to win the C$720,000 Metro Pace on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
McNair mapped out a perfect second-over trip for Exploit on the back of 1-5 favorite Abuckabett Hanover to surge by powerfully in the lane for a 1:50.4 win at odds of 35-1.
“He was feeling real good and we were following the best horse in the race I thought,” said McNair. “He swelled right up in the last turn and kind of surprised me a little bit when he blew by them all and he raced great.”
Lawless Shadow rocketed out to the front, posting a :26 opener. Bayfield Beach looped to the top from second and led the field to the half in :55.1 and three-quarters in 1:22.4.
Abuckabett Hanover got away sixth and started the first-up bid in the second quarter. The Alagna trainee grinded to within a length of the lead at three-quarters, while Exploit followed his every move.
In the stretch, Exploit shot off cover to surge by his stablemate and eventually by a game Bayfield Beach to win by a half-length in 1:50.4. Lawless Shadow crossed the line third, while Abuckabett Hanover was sixth.
A son of Somebeachsomewhere-Time On My Hands, Exploit was two for seven coming into the Metro final and had finished fourth in his elimination. The Alagna trainee was a $165,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase and adds C$360,000 in earnings to a previously earned C$26,457 for owners LeBlanc And Kribbs, Joe Sbrocco, In The Gym Partners and Joe Barbera.
“They do a great job,” said McNair of the Alagna barn. “It’s great to get to drive for them and their horse showed up tonight.”
A $2 win ticket on Exploit returned $73.90.
Caviart Audrey placed first in wild She’s A Great Lady
Caviart Audrey went from second to first following a long inquiry in Saturday’s C$455,000 She’s A Great Lady at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Scarlett Hanover and driver Andrew McCarthy found a seam late at the pylons after screaming for room throughout the stretch. It appeared instantly that Scarlett Hanover had grabbed the victory, however, the judges lit the inquiry sign and found Scarlett Hanover caused interference to a pair of horses when searching for room, causing a disqualification to ninth. The incident was a bump to Lady Arthur, causing a chain-reaction bump into Twin B Sunkissed who went off stride.
Nancy Takter trainee Caviart Audrey and driver Yannick Gingras inherited the victory after a very game effort in a race filled with action from start to finish.
Scarlett Hanover blasted to the lead, posting a :26 opening quarter. Notorious Pink rushed to the top in the second quarter from fourth and posted blistering fractions of :53.4 and 1:21.3.
Caviart Audrey moved from mid-pack at the half and pressed first-up around the final turn.
The lead fillies were clearly fatigued from the hot fractions, but gamely dug in. Notorious Pink kept the rail shut, as Scarlett Hanover and McCarthy were crying for room. As expected, the backfield came to life in the lane to set up a wild finish.
A five-across finish saw Scarlett Hanover sneak up the rail to hit the wire first in 1:52.2. Caviart Audrey was second by a head, but was placed first following the inquiry. Notorious Pink was third placed second, while Paulas Bet Hanover was placed third and Best Head West placed fourth.
A daughter of superstars Somebeachsomewhere and Darlin’s Delight, Caviart Audrey was a $280,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale purchase. The victory gives her five wins in six starts and C$354,237 in earnings for owner Caviart Farms. A $2 win ticket on Caviart Audrey returned $3.70.
No touching Kissin In The Sand in Milton
Kissin In The Sand brushed to the lead in the second quarter and scooted away with ease to a 1:49 victory in the C$215,000 Milton Stakes.
Jody Jamieson guided the Nancy Takter trainee to victory, moving to the lead from third, creating separation on rivals racing to three-quarters and then pacing home in :26.4 to close out a victory of five lengths.
“I just figured we’d get away a little bit close and see how it panned out,” said Jamieson. “It worked out perfectly to get back to the lead and she just did the rest. Nancy and her team had her awesome tonight and she was unbeatable really.”
The third quarter was the decisive quarter in the race, as Kissin In The Sand paced a :28 split without any pressure. Treacherous Reign committed first-up going into the far turn, but didn’t gain much ground, leaving the leader untouched.
Kissin In The Sand with the jump on her rivals never had any anxious moments. Lit De Rose, who left hard, dug in at the rail to finish second. Caviart Ally sat second-over turning for home and edged Treacherous Reign for third.
A 5-year-old, Kissin In The Sand was large in her elimination, pacing home in :25.2 to win in 1:49.2. The elimination was her first start in several weeks.
“This mare is entirely 100 percent due to Nancy Takter,” praised co-owner Marvin Katz. “From the time she was a baby, developing her as a baby she’s loved her…Nancy and I have had 50 discussions about stopping with her, because we want to breed of course, and it’s Nancy who has insisted that she’s good and great, Nancy loves this filly and deserves absolutely all the credit in the world.”
Kissin In The Sand is owned by Katz and Hatfield Stables and goes over C$2 million in career earnings with the Milton Stakes victory. She is now three for nine on the season and has 22 wins. A $2 win ticket on Kissin In The Sand returned $5.