09/02/2016 11:20PM

Mohawk: Gingras grabs both Champlain Stakes splits

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Rubio bounced back after his first career defeat last time out to take his Champlain Stakes event

Driver Yannick Gingras guided Signal Hill and Rubio to victories in the pair of Champlain Stakes divisions for 2-year-old trotting colts on Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack.

Signal Hill, dispatched at 25-1, raced more like an odds-on favorite in the first C$106,974 split, leading through fractions of 27 4/5, 57 3/5, and 1:26 before coasting home in 29 1/5 to win by 4 1/4 lengths over 3-5 favorite King On The Hill (Tim Tetrick). Jake (Sylvain Filion) finished third.

"I liked him after he was trying to kick me out of the bike the whole post parade, but after that he was fine in the race," Gingras said, with a laugh.  "I could tell Timmy was a little bit struggling with his horse behind the gate to try to get him out cleanly, so I just took my chance and tried to put mine in play.  I don't know exactly what happened to David's horse (David Miller and pocket-sitter Patton) about the five-eighths, but I could tell he was maybe two- or three-wide and struggling a little bit, so I took my chance to try and open up as much as I could at that point.

"He definitely has all the abilities; there's no doubt about it.  He's big and strong.  At this point you separate the boys and the men, and that's the next few weeks we'll find out."

Tony Alagna trains Signal Hill, a Muscle Hill colt, for co-owner/breeder Brittany Farms and co-owners David McDuffee, Marvin Katz, and Adriano Sorella.  Signal Hill now has two wins from four tries, and he has earned C$64,312.  A $250,000 buy at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, Signal Hill is the third foal out of the Cantab Hall mare Special Appeal.  Her first foal was Pennsylvania Sire Stakes winner Special Action (Yankee Glide, $116,813), and Special Appeal is a half-sister to the likes of Glidemaster (Yankee Glide, $1,968,023).  Signal Hill returned $55.60 to win.

In the other C$105,473 Champlain clash, Peter Haughton Memorial winner What The Hill (David Miller) put Rubio and Gingras in the pocket before the 28 4/5 opening quarter, then went on to click off a half in 58 3/5 and a three-quarters in 1:27 4/5.  The top two squared off for a private duel in the stretch, and it would be Rubio, who suffered in his first career defeat in the Haughton Memorial, getting up off the two-hole trip to prevail by a length and a half in 1:56.  Mountain Of Love (Randy Waples) followed along in third throughout and held that position at the finish line.

"He had a little hiccup there in the Peter Haughton; he wasn't as good as he had been prior to that," noted Gingras.  "Jimmy (Takter) did some work on him, and he was definitely back to himself tonight.  Before I baby raced him, when I trained him, I really loved him, and he was one of the favorite colts we had at Jimmy's.  Like I said, the Peter Haughton final wasn't maybe at his best, but we're hoping he's going to be back to himself, and he showed like he was tonight.

"I definitely was not going to control the pace.  The horse is coming off almost three weeks off, so I definitely did not want to over-race him.  A two-hole was obviously ideal behind What The Hill, but if that wasn't going to work out, I was going to get away fourth or fifth.  He's got great manners, but he's got high speed.  He likes to track horses, and he likes to get his nose up front.  In the Peter Haughton elimination, he really should have gotten beat, but he was digging in at the wire and trying to win.  You can't teach that; they either want to win or they don't."

Rubio, a colt by Cantab Hall, is owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc., and Jim Fielding.  Now five-for-six in his career and C$120,053 banked, Rubio is the first foal out of the In Dix Huit mare Italienne Girl, a half-sister to Hambletonian Oaks elimination winner Iron Lady (Taurus Dream, $216,766).  Rubio was purchased for $75,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.  Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, Rubio paid $3.20 to win.