05/30/2015 6:37AM

Western Fair: State Treasurer gets Molson three-peat

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Norm Files
State Treasurer (8) overcame a first-over trip to win the Molson in a three-way photo.

Threepeat!

That’s what the majority of an estimated throng of 3,000 harness racing fans came to see on Molson Pace Friday night at Western Fair in London, Ontario. The local hope, State Treasurer, didn’t disappoint. Guided by regular pilot Chris Christoforou, the 6-year-old Real Desire stallion gutted out a tough first-over trip to get up on the shadow of the wire over stubborn race favorite and recent Confederation Cup victor All Bets Off in a stakes record time of 1:51.

Winning driver Christoforou, leaving from the trailing eight-hole was right on All Bets Off’s back when the gate opened. With only Evenin Of Pleasure also gunning from post 5, the two-time defending champ managed to get away third, which was likely the turning point of the race because it turned out to be a good spot from which to launch his assault.

State Treasurer moved first-over past the stands for the first time and from there he and All Bets Off battled on virtually even terms for the entire final half until the champion edged clear late. Evenin Of Pleasure rallied up the pylons to finish third, beaten half a length while PH Supercam was only three-quarters of a length back in fourth.

“I didn’t want to get him pinned in,” said Christoforou. “I made sure I had clearance on the first turn and it worked out good. The horse did the rest.” Christoforou was appreciative of the tough trip paced by the winner. "He's just a special kind of horse. The trip he went . . . unbelievable . . . first up like that and to go to war with that other horse and beat him, it was spectacular,” he beamed.

Winning trainer Dr. Ian Moore had plaudits for both horse and driver following the victory celebration in the winner’s circle. “He was all crooked tonight but he still got the job done,” he noted of his three-time Molson Pace champ, who with the victory became the sport’s newest millionaire by earning $75,000 for owners Sally Macdonald of Prince Edward Island and Paul Macdonald of Toronto. “Chris handles this horse better than anyone,” he continued. “He’s handled him superbly and done a heck of a job with him.”

Moore could have showered himself with similar praise, considering State Treasurer was making only his fourth start of the year and had just notched his first victory in his most recent start – a solid win in the Mohawk Preferred in which he paced his back half in 53 3/5 uncovered. It seemed as though that start may have had him perfectly primed for a title defence and it played out perfectly much to the delight of the home crowd.

Western Fair General Manager Greg Blanchard proclaimed the night a great success, “exceeding” all expectations, and was thankful that the rain that had threatened to put a damper on the event most of the day never came. “It’s exciting to think that we shattered all previous handle figures,” he remarked. “We did $610,000 tonight which far exceeded our previous high of $404,000 - and $196,000 of that was on the Molson Pace itself!” Perhaps the quality of the races that were carded had some play in the handle figures as there were several Ontario Sires Stakes Gold dashes, City Of London Stakes Series and Preferreds raced that featured full fields.

In other action, Bob McIntosh’s sophomore Ponder colt Go Daddy Go could not have paced a more impressive sophomore debut mile, demolishing his foes in 1:53 1/5 in the first of three Ontario Sires Stakes Gold paces. He certainly looked the part of one that will have something to say in this year’s edition of the North America Cup next month at Mohawk. In the second division, Jeremes Jet colt Windsong Leo parlayed a heady drive by Jody Jamieson to easily run his win streak to seven with a 1:54 1/5 score. In the third division, Casie Coleman-trained Sportswriter gelding Sportskeeper bravely held off a game Physicallyinclined in a new track record for 3-year-old geldings of 1:53.

The night, however, clearly belonged to now three-time champion State Treasurer, who cemented his place in Molson Pace history with another outstanding performance, which is becoming commonplace for him at the London oval it seems.