Harness racing trainer Don Lindsey gave up his chance at Grassroots glory for a shot at Gold Series success and the move paid off in spades on Friday evening as two-year-old trotter Keystone Orion emerged victorious in Gold Final competition at Flamboro Downs.
Starting from Post 2, Keystone Orion kept his cool as the horses to his left and right — including fan favourite Prestidigitator — knocked themselves off stride and out of contention. The Northern Dude had his accelerator to the floor early, getting three and three-quarter lengths ahead of the field before the :28.4 quarter, which gave driver David Boughton plenty of room to settle Keystone Orion into second along the rail.
Trevor Henry and The Northern Dude maintained their brisk tempo, and their three length lead, through the :59 half, with Boughton and Keystone Orion looking on from second and the rest of the field lined up behind them. By the 1:28.2 three-quarters, Keystone Orion had begun to close the gap between him and the pacesetter, and The Northern Dude turned for home with a scant nose in front.
Keystone Orion trotted strongly through the stretch to claim the Gold Final title by three and one-quarter lengths, halting the Flamboro Downs teletimer at 1:59.2. Warrawee Nimby and elimination winner Heres The Magic also reeled in the pacesetter, earning second and third place honours. The Northern Dude, owned by David Nicol of Mount Hope, Ann Munn of Guelph and trainer Susanne Kerwood of Rockwood, settled for fourth, while Victim Of Changes, who drew in off the also eligible list when No Less Than Magic was scratched, earned the final share of the $130,000 Gold Final purse for owner, trainer and driver Bjorn Noren of Campbellville.
Lindsey, who makes his home in Fergus, owns and trains Keystone Orion. Through nine starts the freshman trotting gelding has tallied five wins and three seconds for earnings of $137,100. Friday’s Gold Final clocking was a new personal best for the son ofand Ozone Hanover, who was a bargain basement $4,000 purchase out of last fall’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale.
Keystone Orion started his provincial campaign in the Grassroots program, logging two wins and two seconds, for a total of 150 points. The gelding finished the regular season in third spot in the point standings, but Lindsey passed up a berth in last weekend’s Grassroots Semifinals for a shot at the last two Gold Series events. The move appears to be a wise one as Keystone Orion’s second to Prestidigitator in last week’s Gold Elimination, and his Gold Final victory on Friday, have launched him into fifth spot in the Gold Series standings, which should give him a shot at the $300,000 Super Final at Woodbine Racetrack on Nov. 12.
Keystone Orion will have an opportunity to defend his Gold Final title at Woodbine Racetrack on Oct. 7 and 14.
Friday’s Gold Final wrapped up Flamboro Downs’ 2011 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) season, which saw two-year-old pacing colt Warrawee Needy establish a new track and Ontario Sires Stakes record in August andmatch Define The World’s three-year-old trotting colt record one week later. The event also wrapped up the qualifying rounds for the OSS program’s Win The Thrill contest. Friday’s finalists Colleen Sheehan, Henriette Snyder, Gary Naylor, Keith Bickford, Joe McDonald, Scott Musson, OJ Poliziani, and Steven McFadger will be hoping their ballot is drawn out of the Grand Prize drum at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening.
The lucky winner will leave Mohawk the co-owner of yearling pacing colt Bad Boy Matt, the horse selected by this year’s Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) New Owner Mentoring Program principals Brian Webster of St. George Brant and Tony O’Sullivan of Cambridge. Webster and O’Sullivan will guide the Grand Prize winner and eight other newcomers to Standardbred ownership through the ins and outs of owning and preparing a yearling in hopes of competing on next year’s OSS circuit.
September 30, 2011, Race 06, OSS Gold Final, 2CT, Flamboro Downs