The inaugural edition of the $273,500 Charles Juravinski Memorial Cup was a race for the history books as Linedrive Hanover blazed around Flamboro Downs' half-mile oval to set a new all-age track and Canadian record on Sunday evening (May 22).
Formerly known as the Confederation Cup, Flamboro Downs' signature race for four-year-old pacers was renamed this year in honour of the track's co-founder and Canadian Horse Hall of Famer who passed away in February.
Looking for his fifth win on the card, the hot-handed James MacDonald sent Linedrive Hanover to the lead from post five into a :27 opening quarter with elimination winner and reigning Horse of the Year Desperate Man (Trevor Henry) gunning off the gate from the outside to secure a pocket trip.
It didn't take long for the favoured Bulldog Hanover (Jody Jamieson), fresh off his 1:49.3 divisional track and Canadian record performance in last week's elimination round, to make a move from third. He swept up to press Linedrive Hanover approaching the midway mark in :55.
However, Linedrive Hanover forged on to three-quarters in 1:22 leaving Bulldog Hanover hung out up the backside with Lous Pearlman (Yannick Gingras) behind the stalled cover and Charlie May (David Miller) forced to go three-wide.
Turning for home, it was Desperate Man who posed the biggest threat as he launched from the pocket, but Linedrive Hanover blazed home a winner in a career-best clocking of 1:49 flat to become Canada's fastest pacer on a half-mile track.
The time of the mile knocked one-fifth of a second off the Canadian record on a half-mile track set by This Is This Plan at Hippodrome 3R in 2019. It also bested Somebeachsomewhere's 1:49.2 all-age track record that Hall of Famer set as a three-year-old in 2008.
Linedrive Hanover, who just missed by a head to Desperate Man in the eliminations for his only loss in a dozen starts this year, paid $6.80 to win as the 2-1 second choice. Desperate Man, off at 18-1, settled for the runner-up role on this night with 40-1 second tier starter Dean B Hanover (Jordan Stratton) third, five lengths in arrears. Bulldog Hanover ended up fourth while the other elimination winner, Rockyroad Hanover (Dexter Dunn), rounded out the top five.
"He was awesome," said MacDonald after the race. "He was coming a million on the end. I had to check him a couple times and then anyone that followed after the wire... he doesn't know where the wire is. He's still a really green horse, just learning how to race. I was really confident going in, but I knew I needed to find a great trip and the trip I got, I couldn't ask for a better one."
The lightly raced Betting Line-Lillian Hanover gelding, who has finally had a chance to show his talent on track after recovering from a bone bruise as a two-year-old and a fractured tibia as a three-year-old, is trained by Anthony Beaton for West Wins Stable of Wellington, Florida, McKinlay & Fielding of Toronto, and Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont. More than doubling his bankroll, Linedrive Hanover boasts $265,200 in purse earnings and is now 11-for-13 lifetime.
Sunday's undercard featured the $50,000 Margaret Juravinski Invitational Pace, a companion event for four-year-old mares with Tom Hill's homebred Awesome Hill making her Flamboro Downs debut a winning one in rein to Doug McNair.
Beach Moment fired to the front for driver Yannick Gingras and led the field of nine through :27.3 and :56.2 first-half fractions, but 3-5 favourite Awesome Hill went on the attack first-up from the four-hole as they passed in front of the grandstand the first time and was head-to-head with the leader at the 1:24.3 third quarter mark. She edged ahead turning for home and then held off Mystifying (Jonathan Drury), who closed through the passing lane off a pocket trip, to prevail by a head in 1:53.4. Beach Moment settled for third a length behind.
Coming off a victory and close third-place finish in the Mares Preferred class at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Awesome Hill paid $3.30 to win as the bettors' choice.
The Sunshine Beach-Taxi Hare Hanover mare now sports a seasonal summary reading 5-5-2 from 14 starts and has 10 wins lifetime racing from the Chantal Mitchell stable. The lion's share of the purse sent her total earnings to $195,304.
The undercard also included a $15,000 Preferred Pace won by the popular Meg Crone trainee No Plan Intended ($2.40), who rebuffed a challenge from eventual third-place finisher Beachin Lindy to win in 1:53.3, with Legal Bettor following two lengths behind in the pocket. Jody Jamieson drove the four-year-old Up The Credit gelding for his father Carl, co-owner with Brian Paquet.
The 2022 Ontario Sires Stakes season kicked off on Sunday evening with MacDonald driving three of the four winners in the Grassroots leg for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings.
The 2021 Lampman Cup winner kicked off the evening by driving Century Invictus to a gate-to-wire victory in race one. A son of Bettors Delight, Century Invictus surged straight to the lead from the five post and didn’t look back, pacing a mile in 1:55.1.
“I raced [Century Invictus] last year in the Grassroots and he is absolutely built for a half-mile track,” said MacDonald. “He’s a little guy and has a rocket move off the gate. I was looking forward to driving him tonight. No matter where he drew, I knew was going to make my way to the lead.”
Century Invictus, trained by Harry Poulton, improved his record to 1-2-0 from five starts this season for his TheStable.ca owners.
MacDonald followed up with a win in the second Grassroots division as he piloted Coligny Hanover to victory in a time of 1:53.4.
“He’s a good little horse, but he can be a little steppy at times, so the rail helped,” said MacDonald. “I wanted to get him away clean. Once we got through the first turn, we straightened up going [halfway], I moved him first-up and he did the rest.”
The Anthony Beaton-trained Sunshine Beach colt's first win of the season pushed him over $50,000 in career earnings.
Millar Farms's lightly raced Silk Road Smash helped MacDonald complete the Grassroots hat-trick later on the card, winning in a lifetime-best 1:54.2. Trained by Nick Gallucci, the Bettors Delight gelding bounced back nicely after going off-stride two weekends ago in the Ontario Sired Spring Series final at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“Just another little horse that is a great half-miler," said MacDonald. "He always has a good step and I had the vibe he wasn’t going to do it again. He paced great tonight and I was really happy with him.”
The other $21,000+ split went to the Sportswriter gelding Sports Advisor in 1:54.1 with Doug McNair in the bike for trainer Rick Zeron and co-owner John Donato.