In the first of three $40,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold eliminations for freshmen trotting colts and geldings contested at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday, 30-1 longshot Major Herbie was shuffled back to sixth but unleashed a :30.3 final frame to overcome his five length deficit and nip pacesetter Idle Time (Joe Hudon Jr.) at the wire in 2:01.2. Favourite Don Pietro (Mario Baillargeon) finished third off a pocket trip.
Trained and driven by Wayne Henry for the Henry Stable of Arthur, ON and Daniel McCann of Parkhill, ON, the son of Here Comes Herbie-Independent Dame notched his first career win and pushed his earnings to $21,200 after finishing fifth while debuting in a Grassroots event at Hiawatha Horse Park on July 15. Major Herbie was a $20,000 Canadian Open yearling.
Plato, the 7-2 third choice in the field, turned in his record-setting performance in the next elim for driver Trevor Ritchie and trainer Greg Johnson, who shares ownership with his father, George Johnson of Milton, ON. The Andover Image-Pom Derable colt advanced to the lead from third after the first quarter and held off the first over challenger, Sim Brown (Jody Jamieson), to win by a neck in 1:59.1. Ernie B Earnest held the former record, which was set at 2:01. Tymal Lennon (Stephen Byron) finished seven lengths back in third.
Plato earned his second win in three OSS outings and bumped his bankroll to $50,400. The gelding won his first Gold elimination in 1:58 at Mohawk on July 12 and finished fourth in the final (won by Buckhams Bay) the following week.
The undefeated Buckhams Bay was a gate-to-wire winner in the final elimination of the night for driver Jacques Hebert and trainer, owner and breeder John Smith of Woodlawn, ON. The pocket-sitting Whatabout Tom (Kelly Sheppard) finished two and a half lengths behind in second while Daylon Magician (Jack Moiseyev) followed in third.
Buckhams Bay, a son a Ken Warkentin-Merles Image, who won his previous OSS Gold elim and the final, is now three-for-three in his career with $105,000 banked. He is a half-brother to millionaire Mc Cooeye, sired by Shipps Speed.
Here is a look at the field for the $130,000 OSS Gold Final set for next Wednesday, August 4:
1. Don Pietro
2. Major Herbie
4. Idle Time
5. Whatabout Tom
6. Buckhams Bay
7. Tymal Lennon
8. Sim Brown
9. Daylon Magician
(courtesy Standardbred Canada)