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Favored Pastor Stephen takes Simcoe in stakes record time
Saturday, September 03, 2011 - from WEG Media Relations

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Campbellville, ON --- Pastor Stephen, driven by Ron Pierce, inherited a mid-stretch lead after pacesetter Blue Porsche made a break, then held off a closing Luckycharm Hanover to win a C$123,644 Simcoe Stakes division for 3-year-old trotters on Saturday (September 3) at Mohawk Racetrack.

Sent postward the even money choice, Pastor Stephen, from the Jimmy Takter Stable, challenged Blue Porsche around the far turn, but tucked into the pocket turning for home.

However, Blue Porsche, the 5-2 second choice, suddenly broke stride under Trevor Ritchie, after the three-quarters was reached in 1:24.3, as Pierce wheeled Pastor Stephen to the outside to take over. Under a drive, he eventually finished 1-1/4 lengths in front of Luckycharm Hanover in a Simcoe Stakes record time of 1:52.4, while Whatever It Takes was third.

Pastor Stephen, a son of Cantab Hall, enjoyed a banner 2-year-old campaign, winning six of 11 starts and more than C$660,000, highlighted by a victory in the Wellwood and runner-up finishes in the Breeders Crown to Manofmanymissions and to Blue Porsche in the Valley Victory.

This year, although he’d won three of nine entering the Simcoe and was fifth in the famed Hambletonian last month, it wasn’t quite the sophomore campaign his connections had envisioned.

“He’s one of my horses that got sick,” explained trainer Takter. “He’s been battling that for a good six, seven weeks. You’re never really confident. I know Blue Porsche is a very good horse, but he’s also been having some issues this year. But Ronny (Pierce) was very happy. He said he felt like he had the right power back in him and hopefully, by the time we race in the Canadian Trotting Classic (September 17), we’ll have the old horse back.”

With the winner’s check of C$61,822, Pastor Stephen became the sport’s newest millionaire, now with career earnings of C$1,058,188.

Pastor Stephen paid $4.30, $3.00 and $2.70, combining with Luckycharm Hanover ($5.30, $3.70) for a $15.40 (5-4) exactor. A 5-4-10 (Whatever It Takes, $4.10 to show) triactor returned $79.50, while a $1 Superfecta (5-4-10-3-Traverse Seelster) was worth $169.25.

Hambletonian runner-up Whiskey Tax earned the first stakes trophy of his career after capturing the C$121,644 second Simcoe Stakes division of the night for 3-year-old trotters.

The son of Revenue S-Bourbon Belle and driver Randy Waples left from post five and posted a tepid opening quarter of :29, before Leader Of The Gang (Jimmy Takter) pulled the pocket and cleared to the front at the half in :58.

Windsong Hercules (Rick Zeron) made his move from third during the third interval, advancing first up with Can Anyone Explain (Trevor Ritchie) following his cover before breaking stride at the 1:26.1 three-quarters mark, and Tamarind (Sylvain Filion) third over.

However, Whiskey Tax pulled the pocket entering the stretch and put away Leader Of The Gang en route to a career-best 1:55.1 victory. Windsong Hercules finished a half-length behind in second with Tamarind coming in third.

Whiskey Tax paid $4.20 to win as the odds-on favorite. Trainer Thomas Durand co-owns the bay gelding with his wife, June Durand, and Allan Smith.

After going winless in nine freshman starts, Whiskey Tax has gone on to record three victories, two seconds and two thirds in his 11-race sophomore season so far while banking C$492,462. His lifetime bankroll now stands at C$599,500.

-- Standardbred Canada also contributed to this story


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