They’re still head­ing to Flam­boro

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - Hjhowe@rogers.com

To­mor­row evening, Flam­boro Downs will stage the elim­i­na­tions for the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup which has at­tracted a very re­spectable field de­spite a very mod­est purse.

Next week’s fi­nal for the fouryear-old pac­ers will be $176,000 down from last year’s pot of $230,000 be­cause no elim­i­na­tions were re­quired in 2016.

A to­tal of 12 have drawn into a pair of $20,000 di­vi­sions. What makes it all rather odd is that if the win­ner were to cap­ture his elim­i­na­tion and the fi­nal the to­tal pay­off would be only less than $100,000 which by to­day’s stan­dards is not a big at­trac­tion. And de­spite a big, big ef­fort by lo­cally-owned Sin­tra in the Grad­u­ate Se­ries at the Mead­ow­lands a week ago, no one seemed to be scared away.

Rock­ton trainer, Dave Me­nary, who is based at Stephen­sons Train­ing Cen­tre near Copetown has the hot horse at the mo­ment. He seared the Mead­ow­lands with a 1:49.1 mile run­ning away from the field to win by six lengths. He’s won both starts this year show­ing $342,000 in ca­reer earn­ings.

Mil­ton owner Brad Grant will see his Easy Lover Hanover make his first start since win­ning the Progress Pace last Novem­ber and while he has post three he will have his hands full in this ini­tial ap­pear­ance for trainer Ben Wal­lace. But it surely will be a spring­board for the weeks ahead.

In­ter­est­ingly, Grant also has a starter in the other divi­sion with new­comer Mr. Wig­gle Pants.

Last week, Grant pur­chased the four-year-old in a pri­vate trans­ac­tion from Ohio in­ter­ests and handed the as­sign­ment to Wa­ter­down horse­man Scott McE­neny to man­age.

“I was at the track Satur­day night and Brad asked if I had room for an­other horse. The the next day con­firmed he’s bought this guy and I think he looks good,” says McE­neny from Classy Lane Train­ing Cen­tre where he is based.

“Very good half-mile track horse like he showed last Septem­ber at North­field Park where he tossed a first quar­ter in :25.3. No ques­tion he can leave so I have good hopes for him.”

Mr. Wig­gle Pants is Ohio-bred and largely stayed within the con­fines of that state hav­ing made just 24 life­time starts.

April 29 was his first start of the year at Mi­ami Val­ley in Ohio and a 1:51.2 mile was pretty slick off a qual­i­fier.

But the com­pe­ti­tion is very deep in this divi­sion led by the Ron Burke trained Check Six. He’s com­ing in off a Grad­u­ate divi­sion win in 1:49.3 af­ter bank­ing just over $1 mil­lion last sea­son.

“He is a big, good-look­ing horse. He looks like he is sup­posed to be a good one which he is. I think of all the re­turn­ing three year olds of last year he looks to be the best and has an ex­cel­lent chance of be­ing a big horse this year,” says Burke from his Penn­syl­va­nia base.

“He has that look that his sire Some­beach­some­where leaves in many of his horses — mus­cu­lar and manly.”

Jimmy Tak­ter is shipping in Western Fame who has close to $500,000 earned and looks to be im­prov­ing with age. Mark MacDon­ald comes in from New York to drive fol­low­ing a run­ner-up fin­ish to Sin­tra a week ago.

These two di­vi­sions of the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup are eas­ily the most tal­ented fields staged at Flam­boro Downs since last year’s end. It’s re­fresh­ing to see this type of fire­power again and it should re­sult in a pair of smartly con­tested races.

HAROLD HOWE

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