Campbellville, ON --- Doug McNair will steer eight talented horses during Saturday’s C$1.6 million Super Final Night at Mohawk Racetrack, and while the Guelph resident cannot catch the leaders in the Ontario Sires Stakes drivers’ race a successful Super Final showing could move him closer to an even bigger goal.
In the Ontario race McNair is over 100 points behind dueling leaders Jody Jamieson and Sylvain Filion, but in the Canadian rankings the 23-year-old reinsman is in a heated battle with Jamieson and Filion that sees the three separated by less than C$250,000 in earnings. Just five years after he drove his first race, those numbers could put McNair among the contenders for a year-end O’Brien Award.
“I think there are two or three guys who could win Driver of the Year,” says the young reinsman. “I’d love to be part of that.”
Horses from his father Gregg McNair’s barn have been among those that have propelled McNair up the Canadian standings, including the three he will steer on the Super Final program. 2-year-old trotting filly Luck Is All Ineed, 3-year-old trotting colt Buddy Hally and 2-year-old pacing colt Three Of Clubs have all been multiple winners on the Ontario Sires Stakes circuit this summer. Trainer Tony O’Sullivan has also contributed to McNair’s success and his 2-year-old pacing filly Sudoku and 3-year-old pacing filly Love Canal will benefit from the driver’s guidance on Saturday evening.
“I personally think when you get to the top level, or at any level, the trainers are going to help you get there. The year they have is the kind of year you’re going to have,” says McNair. “My Dad’s had a great year and Tony O’Sullivan’s had a great year and that’s helped me be where I am.”
McNair says his father’s support and guidance played a key role in his journey to the sport’s major leagues and he would love to steer one of his dad’s horses to a win on Saturday. While he has had multiple Grassroots Champions, including three in 2012, it has been 12 years since McNair Sr. captured a Super Final title.
The father-son team will have their first opportunity to gather in the winner’s circle with 2-year-old trotting filly Luck Is All Ineed. The Muscle Mass daughter finished atop the division point standings with two wins and two seconds in five regular season starts and will make her bid for the division title from Post 8.
“She’s been pretty nice all year,” says McNair of the filly, who is owned by his father and Thomas Harmer of Willowbrook, IL. “I’m not expecting to win it, it’s a pretty tough field, but hopefully she gets a big piece of it.”
McNair’s second mount of the evening comes in the 3-year-old trotting filly Super Final, where he will drive heavy favorite Bee A Magician’s stablemate Choir Robe from the outside Post 10 for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman and owners Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL and David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL.
In the 3-year-old pacing filly showdown McNair and O’Sullivan trainee Love Canal will be looking to defend the Super Final title they earned in 2012. The Badlands Hanover daughter won her July 1 Gold Series start at Mohawk, but could only muster a runner-up effort at the Campbellville oval on Sept. 12. McNair is confident that O’Sullivan will have Love Canal firing on all cylinders for Saturday’s test and believes the filly can deliver a repeat even if she is not at her best.
“If she races at 75 per cent I think she can win that race,” says the reinsman, who sends the filly out from Post 9. “She has a lot of talent; hopefully she’s on her game. I know the rest of them will be, going for that kind of money.”
Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Robert Cooper Stables LLC of Boca Raton, FL and J And T Silva Stables LLC of Long Beach, NY share ownership of the winner of C$570,420.
McNair will steer a second “Nifty” Norman starter in the 2-year-old trotting colt contest. The reinsman teamed up with Great White Way for a 1:58 score in the Sept. 21 Gold Series event at Mohawk and will be looking for a second win aboard the Deweycheatumnhowe son from Post 6.
“I got lucky to pick him up,” says McNair of the colt, who is owned by Fashion Farms LLC of New Hope, PA. “He raced awesome last week. He won his last few races; he’s getting hot right now.”
Races 7 and 8 will be McNair’s second and third opportunity to land his father in the winner’s circle. 3-year-old trotting colt Buddy Hally will start from Post 4 for McNair Sr., Howmac Farms Ltd. of North Wiltshire, PEI, Reginald MacPherson of Stratford, PEI and Wayne MacRae of Fall River, NS. The pair clocked an impressive 1:53.4 triumph in the Sept. 20 Gold event and McNair is hoping the Angus Hall colt has another one of those miles up his sleeve.
In the 2-year-old pacing colt final the driver had the choice of two colts from his father’s string and opted for Three Of Clubs from Post 9, rather than Crafty Master from Post 7. The Mach Three son won two of four Gold Series starts this summer and was metres away from a third win last weekend when he stepped on his quarter-boot in the stretch and made a break.
“He was probably on top by 10 lengths,” says McNair, ruefully.
“Any of the times he ever lost it was not his fault,” the driver continues. “He’s a really nice horse.”
Gregg McNair, Tony Lawrence of Hanover and Shady Hill Racing Stable of Durham share ownership on Three Of Clubs, who also won the Battle of Waterloo at Grand River Raceway in early August.
McNair opted for O’Sullivan trainee Sudoku over two of his father’s starters in the 2-year-old pacing filly showdown. Badlands Hanover daughter Sudoku, owned by Let It Ride Stables Inc., Robert Cooper LLC and Dana Parham of Boca Raton, FL and Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, PA, will start from Post 4.
The driver also left his father looking for a substitute in the 3-year-old pacing colt final when he agreed to drive Windsong Jack for trainer Dave Menary. It will be McNair’s first appearance in the Santanna Blue Chip son’s race bike.
“I was asked to drive him a couple of weeks ago and I think he’s good enough to finish first or second in there if he races good,” explains the driver. “He’s shown some huge speed.”
McNair will steer Windsong Jack from Post 4 for Larry Menary of Cheltenham, Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown, Denis Breton of Welland and Geoffrey Lyons Mound of Burford.
Mohawk Racetrack’s first race gets under way at 7:25 pm and the Super Finals are slated for Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 10.
For complete entries please go to http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e0928mohsn.dat