Last week it was a front-stepping score in the Willowdale Series for Mystician, and in Saturday’s second leg assignment the OSS graduate used his off-the-pace skills to find his way to victory lane.
With Rick Zeron at the controls, Mystician left smartly from Post 7 and worked out a pocket trip behind Camaes Fellow in the $40,000 tilt. Last year’s OSS Super Final winner whacked out fractions of :26, :55 and 1:23.2 before tiring and opening the rail as the field entered the stretch. Zeron jumped on the opportunity to shoot through at the pylons with Mystician, and the four-year-old son of Camluck-Mystic Mistress used a :28-second closing panel to win by a neck over Im Feelin Good, with race favourite Westwardho Hanover finishing third.
“I was real fortunate enough to catch Keith [Oliver] at the wire,” said Zeron. “He raced real well, but he is a real nice horse. I drove him and I was second in the Confederation Cup [at Flamboro Downs] last year so I knew the horse and it was nice to get back up and drive him again.”
“He seems stronger now than he was when I drove him last year in the summer time,” he added. “He is more determined to win because most horses when they are dropped off like that at the head of the stretch, they would have been happy to finish second. He didn’t, he really fought his way to victory. He has gotten stronger and smarter too.”
Trainer Jeff Gillis co-owns the 10-time winner with Ken Henwood, Mac Nichol and Gerald Stay. The $20,000 payday bumped the high profile pacer’s lifetime earnings to $1,548,942.
The $100,000 final of the Willowdale Series goes Saturday, January 21 at Woodbine Racetrack.
(courtesy Standardbred Canada & WEG)