Highland Mowgli ($3.20) became the fastest trotter in the three-decade history of Hiawatha Horse Park on Saturday (July 3) when he won his $22,500 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots event for sophomore colts and geldings in 1:54.3.
In line to Louis-Philippe Roy, the son of Archangel and Gwyneth Hall seated Stonebridge Armour (Scott Young) into the pocket through a :28.3 first quarter, and from there, it was "hammer down." Highland Mowgli coasted through splits of :56.1 and 1:25 before steadily widening his lead through the final turn and prevailing decisively by 10-1/2 lengths. Splash Of Halo (Doug McNair) angled off the pegs on the far turn and rallied mildly for third, another three lengths back.
Now a three-time winner with $95,904 in his bankroll, Highland Mowgli is owned in partnership by trainer Amanda Fine and breeder Highland Thoroughbred Farm.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Fine, “I think we’re going to have a great year with him and enjoy the ride.”
“He’s definitely capable of the Golds, I believe, but he’s going to have to trot 1:53, 1:54, maybe even 1:52 in the Golds every week,” said Fine, adding that the colt’s size was a factor in the decision to start him in the Grassroots. “I was really looking forward to this horse at three, because at two he just had such a big heart, but he really didn’t grow up much. He didn’t fill out as much as I thought he would, and he was still a stud, so I was hoping he would fill into himself a bit, but he definitely trained back much stronger than he did at two.”
The previous all-age trotting record at Hiawatha was 1:55.1, established by Abbey Road C in July 2003 and matched by Bankable that same month.
Highland Mowgli completed a stakes double for Roy, who also drove Sweet Soul David ($21.40) to victory in the second division. The Patrick Lang trainee yielded to Arch Hall through a :28.1 first quarter before retaking at the bell and evading a late challenge from 1-5 favourite Walkonthemoon (Mario Baillargeon) by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:56.3. Lang co-owns the Kadabra-A Sundae On Sunday gelding, now a three-time winner, with Simon Swindells, Garth Bechtel and Paul Kleinpaste.
Muscle Jack ($2.90) and Jody Jamieson captured the first division in 1:57, keeping pocket rival GQ Magic (Bob McClure) at bay by three-quarters of a length. Trainer Blake MacIntosh co-owns the Muscle Mass-J Marie gelding with the Hutt Racing Stable and Mortgage Boys Stable.
The third division saw Rosies War Bonds ($46.70) spring a 22-1 upset, pushing three-wide around stalled cover and vaulting clear of 6-5 pacesetter Kilauea (McNair) to break maiden by a widening 3-3/4 lengths in 1:56.4. Matt Bax drove the Muscle Mass-Rose De Vie Stena gelding for trainer John Bax, whose Bax Stable shares ownership with Richard Gutnick, Thomas Pontone and Joseph Lozito Jr.
“He looked like a different horse there, he looked like a racehorse,” said John Bax. “The first of the year, we had trouble with him tying up, and he’s actually in the indoor-outdoor paddock.... That seems to have helped his blood quite a bit, just being able to walk all the time, because he’s kind of a big — you know, I wouldn’t call him muscle bound — but he’s big and heavy. So maybe it’s just got him a little freer.
“If I had to give an adjective for him, I would just say he’s a grinder, goes the same speed the whole mile, the same at the end as he does at the start. There’s never been any real brush to him. I’m hoping that he’s turned a corner.”