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Test time for Ontario’s freshman pacing colts Thursday
July 5, 2010
By Sandra Snyder

CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — The buzz about this season’s two-year-old pacing colt crop began in mid June when the youngsters started to appear in qualifying action across the province, and the hum will grow to a fever pitch this Thursday, July 8 when Mohawk Racetrack hosts 22 of the talented young pacers in a trio of $40,000 Gold Eliminations.

Larry Menary owns two colts that will make their Ontario Sires Stakes debuts at Mohawk on Thursday, and the Cheltenham, ON resident admits that even he has been caught up the anticipation and excitement.

“I said all along that I was more excited about the two-year-old babies than I was about Haul Away,” explains Menary, whose three-year-old pacing colt Haul Away has already earned $251,030 this season. “Just seeing them train down all winter long, they were just so good.”

Trek Seelster and Prodigal Seelster were purchased out of the Seelster Farms consignment at last fall’s Forest City Yearling Sale. Modern Art son Trek Seelster was hammered down for $28,000, while Camluck offspring Prodigal Seelster was a $60,000 purchase. Menary says the youngsters trained alongside each other all winter under the care of his son David Menary and that, in his opinion, very little separates the colts at this stage in their career.

“They both trained down together all winter, side by side, and David’s been really excited about them all along,” notes the long time owner. “They were side by side all year long, step to step, both finishing right together.”

Menary, Denis Breton of Welland, ON, Steve Lee of Guelph, ON and Robert Lee of Wheatley, ON hold the papers on Trek Seelster, who heads into Thursday’s test off a 1:56.2 third-place finish in an overnight event at Mohawk Racetrack on June 28. David Menary and regular reinsman Randy Waples prepped Trek Seelster for his debut with a pair of qualifiers at Mohawk on June 12 and 19.

Prodigal Seelster, owned by Menary, Breton, Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown, ON and Phil Silvestri of Hamilton, ON did not get the pari-mutuel start his stablemate enjoyed, but was victorious in both of his qualifiers over the Mohawk surface, posting a 2:00.2 win on June 12 and a 2:01.4 victory in June 25.

Milton, ON resident Waples will steer Trek Seelster from Post 4 in the first $40,000 elimination, Race 2 on the Thursday evening program, and Prodigal Seelster from Post 2 in the second split, which goes postward as Race 4.

“I spoke to David just a bit earlier and he said Trek is in a tougher division,” notes Menary. “There are a lot of nice colts in there.”

Trek Seelster faces off against six other colts in the second race, four of them with race experience and two heading into the elimination off a qualifier. As a group their early season resumes are impressive: rail horse Mystician boasts a 1:54.3 win at Mohawk on July 1; from Post 2, Madrigal Mindale was a 1:59.1 winner at Grand River Raceway on June 28; Dr Dew, who will start from Post 3, sailed around Columbus, Ohio’s Scioto Downs in 1:57 in a June 23 qualifier; and Mach It Big, who gets Post 5, was a 1:56.1 winner in a two-year-old event at Mohawk on June 28.

Two races later Prodigal Seelster faces a field of seven, four making their second start and three their debuts. Among the colt’s rivals for a top three finish are Lyons Elite from Post 3, who finished just behind Mach It Big in the June 28 contest, also timed in 1:56.1; Nelsonjack, who gets Post 6 and heads into the contest off a 1:58.4 win at Hiawatha Horse Park in a July 3 overnight; and at Post 7, Drain Daddy, who laid down a :27 final quarter in a fourth-place effort behind Mystician on Canada Day.

The priciest yearling of the 22 colts competing on Thursday is Talkin First, who sold for $90,000 US at the 2009 Harrisburg Yearling Sale. The son of Camluck and Allamerican Toffee will start from Post 8 in the fourth race and heads into the event off a 2:00.2 win in a June 25 qualifier at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania.

Regardless of their purchase price, all 22 colts have been working hard for the last nine months to learn their lessons and prepare for their racing careers, and Menary expects every owner shares his sense of anticipation.

“You go to the sale and start out with all the excitement, hoping you make the right choice,” he explains. “Then there is a lot of hard work through the winter, and a lot of cold hands.

“Then as they start getting down to that last little bit, they start getting stronger and stronger, like any kind of athlete.”

The colts will need a top three finish to guarantee a berth in the July 15 Gold Final, worth $130,000, as only one of the fourth-place finishers will advance. Their strength will be tested over the Mohawk Racetrack oval in Races 2, 4 and 9, with Thursday’s first race going postward at 7:30 pm.

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