Ontario’s precocious two-year-old trotting colts head back to Grand River Raceway on Wednesday, Aug. 4 for the second $130,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Final of their young careers, and owner Dan McCann is hoping Major Herbie comes up with another steady performance.
The son of Here Comes Herbie and Independent Dame scored an upset victory in the Gold elimination round that surprised McCann as much as it did the Grand River fans, who had sent the youngster off as the longest shot in the nine horse field.
“It was a little bit unexpected,” admits McCann, who shares ownership of Major Herbie with the Henry Stable of Arthur, ON. “I was looking for maybe a third and to get a chance at the Final.”
Sitting on the rail through much of the mile, trainer-driver Wayne Henry sent Major Herbie three-wide around the final turn and the novice trotter turned in a sharp effort through the stretch to reel in the leaders and claim a neck victory in 2:01.2. While his peers drifted wide, made breaks, and otherwise demonstrated their inexperience, Major Herbie maintained his focus and delivered an effort worthy of a veteran.
McCann notes that last Wednesday’s victory was the second time Major Herbie had demonstrated his unflappable temperament. The youngster made his racing debut in a division of the Grassroots Series at Hiawatha Horse Park on July 15, during a rain storm that had the Sarnia oval looking more like a river than a racetrack.
“His first start was in driving rain at Sarnia, and what really impressed me was how solid he was. He was like an old horse,” says the Parkhill, ON resident. “That’s very important for a green trotter; if they’ve got good behaviour.”
Major Herbie finished fifth in that Grassroots event, six and a half lengths behind winner Idle Time. Last Wednesday the tables were turned as Idle Time had to settle for second behind Major Herbie.
Henry will steer Major Herbie from Post 2 in this Wednesday’s $130,000 Gold Final, and McCann hopes his long time partner can carve out another steady trip for the trotter.
“Post 2 is very favourable on a half-mile track. That is one of the keys,” notes McCann, who owns shares in 20 odd racehorses across the province. “He seems to have the manners; that is part of it too.
“All in all the Henry boys do a good job getting two-year-olds there,” he adds. “I always look forward to their second or third start when we can really see what we’ve got. So far it’s been pretty good.”
Recently retired from the construction business, McCann enjoys watching his horses race, and intends to be trackside at Grand River for Wednesday’s 10th race.
“It can be interesting and nerve wracking with trotters; nevertheless I kind of enjoy them,” says the owner. “The week before last I was at five or six different tracks in one week. I enjoy going and watching my stock.”
In spite of his Gold elimination win, Major Herbie is still lightly regarded by Grand River Raceway handicappers. Among their top choices to take home the Gold Final trophy on Wednesday are two-time Gold elimination winner Plato from Post 3, and the undefeated reigning Gold Final champion Buckhams Bay from Post 6.
Grand River Raceway’s first race rolls in behind the starting gate at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday, with the two-year-old trotting colts squaring off in Race 10.
(courtesy Standardbred Canada & OSS)