News ArchivesArchives for August '06
Megens keeping his options open for Sunday’s Gold Final
CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — For the first four months of his racing career, Stormaway captured 11 of 12 starts in classic front end style, but last week the three-year-old pacing colt surprised Mohawk Racetrack fans by sitting off the pace and laying down a :26.3 last quarter to win his elimination and earn a berth in this Sunday’s $130,000 Gold Final.
“Because he’d been favoured so many times we had the intimidation value, and Mark (Megens) and I decided it was appropriate to take advantage of that and race him from the front,” explains trainer Dan Megens. “But we always knew he would come back easy.
“I actually said I thought he would be better from off the pace, that he’d probably go faster,” adds the Hamilton resident.
Megens’ words proved to be prophetic as the Northern Luck son clocked a personal best 1:50.1 in last week’s victory, which saw him sit sixth until well past the halfway marker, circle three-wide around the final turn and sprint down the stretch to a neck victory over the heavily favoured Doonbeg, himself a master of the late sprint.
“He’s got a good kick at the end, Doonbeg, that’s his forte is his big sprint at the end,” notes Megens, who shares ownership on Stormaway with Janice Van Nest of Hamilton and Peter Caetano of Ancaster. “But Storm’s got a pretty good kick too, if he’s right and not used up too much early.”
Ineligible to all of the summer stakes, Stormaway has been limited to Ontario Sires Stakes engagements over the past two months and keeping the colt at the top of his game has been an ongoing project for Megens. Since capturing his elimination and the final of the season opening Gold Series event at Western Fair Raceway in May, Stormaway has made just four starts while battling allergies and respiratory ailments.
“I don’t really know if he’s really reached his potential yet, where I think he’s tight enough and healthy enough,” reflects the trainer. “He certainly falls into the category of a good horse, because even when things aren’t just 100 per cent, he still races well.”
Megens points to the July 13 Gold Final at Rideau Carleton Raceway as an example of the colt’s ability to overcome adverse conditions. After carving most of the fractions, Stormaway faded in the stretch and had to settle for a runner-up finish behind Doonbeg.
“When he went to Ottawa for the elimination he went from being pretty good before to, when I scoped him after, he was all inflamed. He had some kind of bacterial infection going on. There was something in the environment there that he had a reaction to,” Megens recalls. “We did all we could to get him right for the final, and he was okay, but he wasn’t 100 per cent.”
In an effort to provide the colt with the most favourable environment, Megens moved his stable to a training centre where he can turn each horse out every night. That change and ongoing monitoring of Stormaway’s allergies seemed to pay off last weekend as the winner of $281,230 bounced back easily from his elimination victory.
“That was a good tightener. I was really pleased with the way he was after the race, he wasn’t that stressed,” notes Megens. “I hope he’s going to be good for the Final.”
As for strategy this week, the trainer will leave things up to his brother Mark to assess once the starting gate folds. The pair will start from Post 8 in the $130,000 contest and Megens expects the horses inside Stormaway to set a lively pace through the early stages of the race.
“I don’t know, I think there will be lots of early speed,” he says. “But it all depends. If not enough people are leaving, we might try and take advantage of that. If there’s lots of early speed, we’ll take a seat and see what happens.”
Stormaway and his three-year-old pacing colt peers square off in Race 8 on Mohawk Racetrack’s 7 pm program Sunday, which also features an outstanding line up of two-year-old trotting colts and three-year-old pacing fillies in Champlain and Simcoe Stakes action.
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