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Canadians Roy and McClure claim Crown wins on home circuit

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CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. — The home track advantage paid off for Canadian drivers Louis-Philippe Roy and Bob McClure on Friday night.

Roy and McClure won the first two races of the US$6.7 million (C$9.06 million) Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Roy started the night riding Gaines Hanover to victory in the $810,000 two-year-old colt trotting before McClure guided half-favorite Sylvia Hanover to victory in the $810,000 two-year-old fillies pace.

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Richard Moreau (Gaines Hanover) and Shawn Steacy (Sylvia Hanover) are also both coaches at Mohawk Park.

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The victory was Roy’s first in a Breeders Crown event while McClure took his second. The Breeders Crown is the richest and most prestigious year-end divisional championship series in harness racing.

Roy and Gaines Hanover passed 7/5 favorite Celebrity Bambino, driven by Yannick Gingras of Sorel, Que., for a thrilling victory. Gingras took Celebrity Bambino into the lead with about a quarter mile to go, but Roy and Gaines Hanover, a 7/2 pick, passed the leaders just short of the finish line, taking the win in 1:53.2.

“It was awesome, the feeling,” Roy said. “Down the lane, I just had in my mind, ‘Please, we didn’t do all of this just for the second.’

“It was just a great moment.”

Kilmister, driven by American Brian Sears, finished third.

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Gaines Hanover, starting on the rail, picked up a fourth victory in eight starts. Roy said he felt going down the stretch he had enough horsepower to take the win.

“Middle of the way, I would say,” he said. “When we entered the corridor, Yannick’s horse started to sprint a bit and mine continued with him.

“He wasn’t really gaining ground but later, I would say halfway through the stretch, I was like, ‘It’s happening.’ I feel like (Gingras) drove him perfectly but mine just showed. He was going a bit better.”

Gaines Hanover paid $9.60, $4.20 and $3.20 while Celebrity Bambino returned $2.80 and $2.40. Kilmister paid $4.70.

“The only thing that bothered me was the rail, it’s a tough place here,” Roy said. “I didn’t know how it would turn out, but it worked out pretty well.”

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McClure, of Rockwood, Ont., led Sylvia Hanover to a seventh straight victory in 1:51.1. Overall, Sylvia Hanover has won eight out of nine starts (the other being a second-place finish).

But it wasn’t easy as McClure had to jockey with Charleston and Strong Poison to take the lead before taking control of the race.

“From pole to three-quarters there’s no reason to drive it anymore, it gives you everything it’s got,” McClure said. “She’s great coming off the gate, it’s just that middle half.

“But you know what, you can sit there and knock her down for that trait. She’s temperamental, she’s lazy, but she really knows how to put her nose to the wire first. She proved it. »

Charleston and New Zealand’s Dexter Dunn finished second to Strong Poison, piloted by Gingras.

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Sylvia Hanover brought in $3, $2.20 and $2.10, while Charleston paid $3.30. Strong Poison made $2.70.

Swedish rider/trainer Ake Svanstedt and half-favorite Special Way set a track and Canadian record by capturing the $810,000 two-year-old filly trot in 1:52.0. Svanstedt had Special Way, co-owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld – both of Toronto – sitting third with a quarter mile to go before the overwhelming favorite shifted into another gear over the final eighth mile for a seventh victory in nine starts.

Walner Payton, at 9/2 odds, and Dunn were second to Righteous Resolve, a 4/1 pick driven by Paul MacDonell of Oshawa, Ont.

Special Way paid $3, $2.20 and $2.20 while Walner Payton returned $3.50 and $2.30. Righteous Resolve paid $2.50.

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American rider Dave Miller and Ammo, a long-shot 52/1, recorded a stunning upset in pace for the $810,000 two-year-old colt. Ammo held off a late charge from 1/2 Confederate favorite and American driver Tim Tetrick, to record a surprising victory in 1:50.4.

Confederate finished second while Combustion, a 10/1 pick driven by Australian Todd McCarthy, finished third.

The victory was only the second in five starts for Ammo (2-1-1), who paid $106, $17.70 and $12.30. Confederate brought in $2.30 and $2.10 while Combustion paid $4.30.

Ammo’s win was the biggest upset in the two-year-old colt division in Breeders Crown history. Ammo was third behind Confederate and Ervin Hanover in last weekend’s elimination race.

The remaining eight championship races in the three-year-old and open divisions are on Saturday evening. This is the first time Woodbine has hosted all 12 events since 2019.

Woodbine Entertainment has held more Breeders Crown events (152 leading up to this weekend) than any other venue at their tracks in Woodbine, Mohawk and Greenwood.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 28, 2022.

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