08/12/2016 11:48PM

Mohawk: Rookies clash in Ontario Sires Stakes

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Vero Amore Bi overcame post nine to take his Ontario Sires Stakes race

For the second straight night Mohawk Racetrack showcased Ontario’s top 2-year-olds, and the trotting colts and pacing fillies put on an impressive display of speed and tenacity on the Friday evening program.

First away from the starting gate were the trotting colts, and Vero Amore Bi traveled up the outside from post nine to a half-length victory in 1:56 2/5. Reach The Peak used a pocket trip to secure the runner-up spot and pacesetter Mass Production settled for third.

“We were very pleased with him tonight,” said trainer Tony Alagna. “The last start at Rideau (Aug. 4) he cleared the front and looked like he was going to win, and just got very green on the front end, got to running out, and he made a break and finished third, placed back to fourth. But today he was much more professional, handled it and was very good.”

Friday’s outing was just the Manofmanymissions son’s second lifetime start, and Alagna was pleased to see the colt show off the talent that was visible early in his education.

“He always had a lot of speed you know, we were really happy with him,” said Alagna. “He trained down in Florida, and he always showed he had a lot of gears.  Now that he’s starting to put it all together, he’s really starting to show the talent he has.”

Alagna shares ownership of Vero Amore Bi with Crawford Partners LLC. and Mystical Marker Farms LLC.. The group offered up $20,000 for the trotter at last fall’s Lexington-Selected Yearling Sale and have recouped C$40,600 after two starts.  Randy Waples was in the race bike for both outings.

Mister Bianco captured the second C$70,000 trotting colt Gold division in similar style, touring up the outside after getting away fifth from post one and reeling in the leaders in the stretch. The Muscle Mass son and driver Mike Saftic hit the wire in 1:57 2/5, a neck ahead of Mister Muscle and 2 3/4 lengths ahead of favorite Rose Run Speedster.

Bill Budd conditions Mister Bianco for Brad Gray, who acquired the colt for C$20,000 from the Forest City Yearling Sale. Friday’s start was Mister Bianco’s first and came off just one qualifying effort at Mohawk on July 26.

The final trotting colt division went to Tycoon Seelster, who popped out of the pocket in the stretch and accelerated away from pacesetter Life Well Lived to a 1 1/4 length victory in a personal-best 1:57. Life Well Lived settled for second and Lucys Man completed the top three.

Paul MacDonell piloted Tycoon Seelster to his second win for trainer Scott McEneny and owner Chris Storms. A C$23,000 purchase from the Forest City Yearling Sale, the son of Angus Hall and Travelin Lavec won a Grassroots division at Georgian Downs in the July 9 season opener, and then finished in a dead-heat for third in his Gold Series debut at Mohawk Racetrack on July 25.

Soiree Seelster turned in an impressive effort in the first of two pacing filly Gold divisions. The Big Jim lass got away fifth from post five, and then stepped into the outer lane heading for the halfway marker. After reeling in pacesetter Windy Sport, the favorite gamely held off a sprinting Bid Writer to earn a nose victory in 1:52 2/5. Bid Writer finished second and Future Headlines was third.

The gritty mile was a personal-best for Soiree Seelster, who has been driven to three straight victories by Sylvain Filion.

“She acts like she’s a pretty nice filly, so the time was pretty impressive, and the way she did it was ultra-impressive — to come first up and fight a horse off — so that was pretty impressive, but not a surprise, she’s a nice filly,” said trainer Tony O’Sullivan, who shares ownership of the talented youngster with Domenic Chiaravalle and Lorne Keller.

Through four starts Soiree Seelster now has three wins and one third for earnings of C$107,600. A C$53,000 acquisition from the Forest City Yearling Sale, the long-legged filly leads the division standings with 112 points through the first three events.

“I do think she’ll get better as the year goes on, and I think she could mature and be better next year, just because she’s big and she needs to grow into herself,” noted O’Sullivan.

“She doesn’t have another race now for I think around a month, so we’ll probably give her a little break and maybe qualify her and race her a week before her next stake race,” he continued. “I think it will really benefit her. I think she’ll appreciate it a lot, I think she really will.”

Soiree Seelster will return to action in the Sept. 10 Champlain Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack, and then wrap up her Gold Series regular season at Grand River Raceway on Sept. 19 and Mohawk on Oct. 3, with the season ending Super Final at Mohawk on Oct. 15. She is also eligible to the Nov. 11 Three Diamonds eliminations at Woodbine Racetrack.

“Let’s just take one race at a time,” said the pragmatic O’Sullivan. “Hopefully she stays healthy and sound, and if she keeps in the same direction she’s in, we’re going to probably have a lot of fun.”

Driver Sylvain Filion also piloted the winner of the second C$105,000 pacing filly division, guiding Yaris Bayama to a gate-to-wire victory from post one. The filly rang up fractions of 27 2/5, 56 and 1:24 4/5, and then held off the charging Ain't Three OK and Fade for a neck victory in a personal-best 1:52 4/5.

Filion crafted the win for trainer Stephane Larocque and owner-breeder Bayama Farms Inc.  The Sportswriter daughter now has one win and one second in Gold Series action, along with one Grassroots win, through four starts.

--press release (Ontario Sires Stakes)--