Day At The Track

Niagara trotter in running for top award

10:01 AM 01 Feb 2019 NZDT
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Run Director and driver Sylvain Filion
Run Director and driver Sylvain Filion
New Image Photo

Run Director, a three-year trotter owned by Tom and Elizabeth Rankin of St. Catharines, is in the running for one of the top honours in Canadian harness racing.

After placing ninth in his only start as a two-year-old, the Kadabra colt hit his stride the following year under trainer Ben Baillargeon, winning six races in 17 starts and more than $400,000.

Run Director finished second to Hambletonian runner-up Mets Hall in the $169,183 Simcoe Stakes, won the $225,000 Ontario Sire Stakes (OSS) Super Final and placed fourth in the $500,000 Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Rankin, who is returning to the O'Brien Awards for the second year in a row after winning with rookie trotter Alarm Director in 2018, ranked the OSS Super Final as the highlight of Run Director's racing career so far.

"Leaving from post eight, he was parked every step of the race," Rankin said. "When he couldn't pass Stormont Ventnor in the stretch, (Sylvain) Filion tucked him in and I conceded to myself that we would not win the race.

"But he pulled him in a few seconds, and he dug in to pull out the victory. This horse would not be denied."

In addition to praising Filion, his driver, Rankin singled out Baillargeon, the trainer, for Run Director's outstanding season.

"I owe my horse's success unquestionably to my trainer's mastery of taking horses and developing them so they can reach their highest echelon," he said.

Established in 1989 and named for hall of fame horseman Joe O'Brien, the O'Brien Awards are presently annually by Standardbred Canada to honour the premier horses in harness racing.

This year's O'Brien Awards take place Saturday in Mississauga.

The St. Catharines Standard

Reprinted with permission of the Weekend Tribune

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