Canadian driver Yannick Gingras delivered a shocker Saturday night at the $6.2-million (U.S.) Breeders Crown.
The native of Sorel, Que., drove Rockin Amadeus, a 17-1 longshot, to a stunning victory in the $591,240 Two-Year-Old Colt Pace event. Gingras took Rockin Amadeus past prohibitive 1/5 favourite Captaintreacherous down the stretch for the victory in one minute 51.2 seconds. Wake Up Peter, an 8-1 pick, took second ahead of Captaintreacherous and driver Tim Tetrick, which had come into the race having won eight-of-nine events this season
For the second straight year all 12 championship races were held at Woodbine in what was the richest horse-racing event in Canada this season.
The win was one of three on the night for Gingras on a track upgraded from sloppy to good prior to the start of racing after a rainy day in southern Ontario. It also marked trainer Jim Takter's third trip to the winner's circle, boosting his Crown-record for conditioners to 15.
"I've always liked this horse," said winning owner Suzie Grange of Cheltenham, Ont. "He's had some bad luck but I always thought he had it if he had a good drive.
"I've always thought he had a lot of heart and he showed it tonight."
Rockin Amadeus earned just a third win in 10 races this season.
"Not to take anything away from Captaintreacherous because he's had a great season, but I knew my horse had this type of performance in him," Takter said. "I kind of had a good feeling about this horse tonight.
"I've never won a two-year old pacing Crown so I'm happy to get this win. This horse has been great all year, and I think he will be a contender next year as a three-year old for sure."
Tetrick took Captaintreacherous to the lead at about the half-mile mark but Rockin Amadeus was right behind. Down the stretch, Gingras took Rockin Amadeus to the outside of Captaintreacherous, which couldn't hold the lead running on the rail.
Rockin Amadeus returned $37.00 $12.40 and $4 (all winnings in Cdn. dollars), while Wake Up Peter paid $8.30 and $3.30. Captaintreacherous, whose bid for U.S. horse-of-the-year honours was dealt a huge blow, paid $2.10.
Wheeling N Dealin, with driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, Ont., remained unbeaten after winning the $591,240 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot. The even-money favourite took the victory in 1:56.0 for a ninth straight victory. Royalty For Life was second with Murmur Hanover taking third. Wheeling N Dealin paid $4.20, $2.80 and $2.50 while Royalty for Life returned $3.90 and $3.40. Murmur Hanover paid $11.40.
Tetrick drove Chapter Seven, who won last year's Three-Year-Old Colt Trot, to victory in the $600,000 Breeders Crown Trot in 1:52.3. Tetrick had the 3/5 favourite sitting second behind Commander Crowe at the top of the final turn before surging ahead for the victory. Mister Herbie finished second while Commander Crowe held on for third in the six-horse field that was reduced to five when Hot Shot Blue Chip went offstride.
The win was the fifth in sixth starts and seventh in nine races overall this season for Chapter Seven, which paid $3.50, $2.20 and $2.10. Mister Herbie returned $3.10 and $3.10 while Commander Crown paid $2.10.
"He's a great horse," said winning trainer Linda Toscano, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. "He only knows one thing, and that's to win.
"He deserves every accolade he gets. I give credit to everybody involved, it's a team effort. This year is a culmination of everybody working together and getting him here. I just went along for the ride. It's amazing. I can't dream this big."
Tetrick heaped lavish praise on Chapter Seven.
"He's done everything he's been asked to do this year and more and that's a testament to Linda and her crew," he said. "They've done an outstanding job of keeping this horse fresh all year long and he continues to show up week after week and never stops trying."
Takter's other two victories came with American Jewel in the $500,000 Three-Year-Old Filly Pace and To Dream On in the $600,000 Two-Year-Old Filly Trot in a stakes record-tying time of 1:54.4.
Earlier, Gingras took Maven to the lead in the stretch and went on to register the victory in the $492,700 Three-Year-Old Fillies Trot in 1:54.0. It was the seventh win in 14 races this season for Maven, which paid $9.80, $4.80 and $2.70. Win Missy B returned $4.50 and $2.80 for finishing second while third-place finisher Check Me out paid $2.10.
In other races, it was:
— American Brian Sears drove Tamla Celeber S, a 9-1 pick, past 4/5 favourite Frenchfrysnvinegar in deep stretch to capture the $246,350 Mare Trot in 1:55.2. Frenchfrysnvinegar came in as the defending mare trot champion. Tamla Celeber S paid $20.90, $11.70 and $8.10 while second-place Frenchfrysnvinegar returned $9.30 and $2.80. Mystical Starlight was third, paying $8.20
— Somwhereovrarainbow, the 6/5 favourite, won the $591,240 Two-Year-Old Filly Pace in 1:52.2. I Luv The Nitelife finished second ahead of L Dees Lioness. Somwhereovrarainbow paid $4.50, $2.90 and $2.10 while I Luv The Nitelife returned $3.30 and $2.70. L Dees Lioness paid $3.20
— Tetrick drove American Jewel to victory in the Two-Year-Old Filly Trot in 1:52.1, the horse's 16th win in 24 career starts. The 8/5 favourite finished ahead of Shelliscape, an 8-1 pick, and Big McDeal, a 25-1 longshot. American Jewel paid $5.30, $3.60 and $2.80 while Shelliscape returned $7.50 and $4.50 while Big McDeal paid $10.10.
— Gingras also led To Dream On to the win in the $591,240 Two-Year-Old-Filly Trot ahead of Time To Kill and Bee A Magician. To Dream On paid $5.30, $4.00 and $2.70 while Time To Kill returned $12.40 and $5.40. Bee A Magician paid $2.50.
Later on Saturday night Market Share, this year's Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic winner trained by Toscano and driven by Tetrick, was scheduled to race in the $546,987 Three-Year-Old Colt Trot event. As well, Bettor Sweet, the defending champion, leads the way in the $492,700 Breeders Crown Pace.