Day At The Track

Christoforou triumphs in Gold action

10:43 PM 01 Jul 2015 NZST
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Dont Rush
Chris Christoforou guides three-year-old trotting colt Dont Rush to a 1:54.3 victory
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Dont Rush

JUNE 30, 2015 - Twelve days ago harness racing trainer Dustin Jones made an unanticipated return to the race bike behind his top trotting colt Dont Rush, a return that had a direct impact on Tuesday evening's Gold Series event at Mohawk Racetrack.

"Chris (Christoforou) had got hurt that night in the parade, and I wasn't really prepared to drive him," said Jones of his last minute return to the race bike in the June 18 overnight. "Chris wanted me to leave with him and I said, you know what, if I leave with him and I get parked I'm going to be mad at myself. I said, I'll just put him in the back."

Jones eased Dont Rush off the gate from Post 6 in the three-year-old conditioned event and the pair raced along well behind the leaders before closing hard to finish two and one-half lengths back in third. The mile may not have been the one Christoforou would have crafted, but it did cause Jones to firm up a decision he had been toying with since the start of Dont Rush's sophomore season.

"He did trot his last half in :56.1, but I thought he was working too hard, his legs were going fast and he wasn't grabbing the track good enough, so I changed his shoes," said the Waterdown, ON resident. "I've been debating about that all year because I knew he was going to have to gain a few seconds, because he's not a very big horse."

Jones switched Dont Rush's front footwear from steel to aluminum, which lowered the colt's gait a little bit, and the result was immediately apparent to Christoforou as he rolled in behind the gate for Tuesday evening's $105,000 Gold Series division. Lining up at Post 9 the Campbellville, ON resident opted to send Dont Rush to the front and the trotter looked every inch a division champion as he cruised home to a four length victory in a personal best 1:54.3.

"Dustin made a great change and lightened his front shoes, and the colt's gait was much more efficient," said Christoforou after the race. "I have never raced him that way before, but with 11 horses in the field, and having the 9 hole, I was reluctant to risk getting him caught in traffic. He responded well and showed his class tonight."

The win gives Dont Rush one Gold trophy, one Grassroots trophy, and one third-place result in overnight action through three sophomore starts and boosts his season earnings to $63,900. Jones, who shares ownership of the homebred son of Infinitif and Color Me Pretty with Greg Judson of Athens, ON, says last year's division champion will now begin preparations for the July 15 Gold Leg at Grand River Raceway.

Dont Rush

One race after guiding Dont Rush into the Mohawk winner's circle, Christoforou paraded onto the racetrack with another trotter benefitting from a recent equipment change. Like Dont Rush, Muscle Up The Goal captured his Grassroots division at Mohawk on June 4, but when the colt made a break in his Goodtimes elimination at the Campbellville oval on June 12 trainer Rob Fellows decided to add trotting hopples to his equipment bag.

Christoforou and Muscle Up The Goal gave the hopples a test run in a June 23 qualifier at Mohawk, posting a two and one-half length win in 1:57.2, which had fans sending the duo off as their fourth choice in Tuesday's second Gold division.

Starting from Post 1, Christoforou allowed the trotter to coast away from the starting gate and the pair was sitting fifth at the :27.2 opening quarter clocked by Raising Richard. With Olympic Son and Rubber Duck serving as a wind break, Muscle Up The Goal stepped into the outer lane heading for the :57.3 half and maintained that position through the 1:27.2 three-quarters. When Christoforou asked the Muscle Mass son for an additional gear, Muscle Up The Goal kicked home to a one and one-quarter length win in a personal best 1:55.4.

"Muscle Up The Goal showed a lot of ability early last year then got hurt. It's been a long road back for him, but the addition of trotting hopples has seemed to help him tremendously," said Christoforou. "He got a nice trip tonight and raced very good."

Rockwood, ON resident Fellows conditions Muscle Up The Goal for Synerco Ventures Inc. of Toronto, ON. Before being injured early in his freshman campaign the trotter scored two Gold Series victories. In just seven lifetime starts Muscle Up The Goal now has four wins and earnings of $150,600.

Muscle Up The Goal

Like Dont Rush, Muscle Up The Goal will now turn his attention toward the third Gold Series event of the three-year-old trotting colt calendar on July 15 at Grand River Raceway. After a break for Canada Day, Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday, July 2 with two Gold Series divisions for the three-year-old pacing fillies.

Ontario Horse Racing

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