CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. — Oh Well was the class of the Mohawk Million on Saturday night.
American Tim Tetrick drove the 3/5 favourite to a solid two-and-a-half length victory at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Starting on the rail, Tetrick had Oh Well standing third halfway through the race before taking the lead from Oh Look Magic with a quarter-mile to go.
And the outcome was never in doubt as Oh Well claimed the race for two-year-old trotters in a stakes record-tying 1:53.4. Silly Me Hanover, at 42/1 odds, finished second with Proud To Be Lindy, a 96/1 long-shot, taking third in the 10-horse field.
"I just had to be careful on the rail, you just don't want to get pinned and not get out," said Tetrick. "The colt is big and strong and the ones following him had to be out there, too.
"I thought my colt could do it and he proved me right."
Oh Well earned a fourth win in six career starts, the other two results being second-place finishes. The horse captured the $500,000 winner's share in his first race outside of New Jersey and boosted his overall earnings past US$700,000.
Oh Well was a US$530,000 purchase at the 2021 Harrisburg Yearling Sale.
"I don't think the size of the track even bothers him at all," Tetrick said. "Mainly (it's) keeping him focused because he'll look at butterflies if you let him.
"He's got a big engine, he never gets tired and he's a really nice colt."
Added trainer Marcus Melander: "Right from the start, he was a beautiful colt. He cost a lot of money. If you buy a high-price yearling, it doesn't mean they're going to be good. He's covered a lot of ground and he's a great horse."
The Mohawk Million, which began in 2020, features nine slots that were available for purchase at $100,000 each. The final spot goes to the Wellwood Memorial winner, which Winners Bet secured Aug. 27.
Each owner is free to sell, trade or lease their slot in the race. Brad Grant, a trucking magnate from Milton, Ont., made deals for his slot with the connections of the first two Mohawk Million winners (Venerate in 2020, Venerable in 2021).
Grant had a slot in this year's race, securing an agreement with the connections for Proud To Be Lindy, one of three fillies in the event.
Oh Well's connections got into the Mohawk Million after reaching an agreement with slot owner Steve Stewart of Hunterton Farms. Hunterton Farms bred the first two race winners.
"It (buying slot) was more an opportunity for us to give back to the race," Stewart said. "In Kentucky there's a saying, 'When you see a turtle on top of a fence post, there was a lot of other people that helped that turtle get up there.
"I'm the turtle sitting on the fence post. There's a whole lot of people behind me that donated to this."
Also on Saturday's card, Stockade Seelster, driven by Jody Jamieson of Moffat, Ont., overtook 3/5 favourite Save America, driven by Yannick Gingras of Sorel, Que., to win the $900,000 Metro Pace for two-year-olds in 1:50.1.
"Just an amazing experience, an amazing horse and a great job by Doc (trainer Dr. Ian Moore)," Jamieson said.
Jamieson earned his third Metro Pace title as Stockade Seelster claimed a seventh win in eight starts. Jamieson made a daring move at the half-mile mark, moving into second by slipping through on the inside when Save America momentarily drifted off the rail.
"Well, Yannick wasn't looking to let me go and I knew that when I moved him," said Jamieson. "He (Stockade Seelster) is a tough horse to drive right now, he's green and wants to go fast all the time.
"There was a gap there and I took it. It's as simple as that."
Then in deep stretch, Jamieson moved Stockade Seelster to the lead, much to the dismay of Gingras, the look of disappointment clearly etched on his face as the horses crossed the finish line.
And Slay, driven by Joe Bongiorno, rallied after breaking stride to win the $615,000 Canadian Trotting Classic while Bob McClure of Rockwood, Ont., drove 1/2 favourite Sylvia Hanover to victory in the $525,000 She's A Great Lady final for two-year-old fillies in 1:51.4.
Slay got into trouble at the top of the stretch when he broke stride. But Bongiorno got the 8/1 pick to reset and finish strong in 1:52.1, then let the stewards decide whether the outcome would stand.
After an inquiry, it was deemed Slay didn't interfere with any other horses and the result remained unchanged. Pretender was second ahead of 36/1 long-shot Fast As The Wind.
"We just got a little bit jammed up in there, he caught a boot," Bongiorno said. "It was surprising to me as it probably was to everyone else, it was very uncharacteristic for him.
"Like a great horse does, he got back really quick. I figured going for this kind of money I just had to drive him through the wire and let the judges make their decision. I was worried but after speaking with the judges I was pretty confident."
Slay registered a third win in four races and fifth victory in 12 starts this season.
McClure and Sylvia Hanover were second after the opening quarter before he took his horse to the lead just before the half-mile mark. Coming home, Sylvia Hanover held off a late charge from Charleston, the 2/1 second pick driven by New Zealand's Dexter Dunn, for the win by a length.
"In races like this you're not going to get anything handed to you no matter how much of a favourite you are," McClure said. "Once she got the front it was business as usual, she holds them at bay.
"We kept going really fast, we were pacing hard down the lane, they were pacing with her, there's a lot of really fast fillies. She wasn’t letting them get too close. It’s a fun race just to be a part of, to win it is even better."
Treacherous Penny, a 61/1 long-shot driven by Bongiorno, was third in the nine-horse field as Bellisima Hanover was a late scratch.
Sylvia Hanover earned her sixth win in seven starts this year — finishing second in the other race — with earnings just over $480,000.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept, 24, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press