Campbellville, ON --- Harper Blue Chip will make his first Ontario Sires Stakes start of 2014 Thursday night (Aug. 14) in the first of three C$70,000 Gold divisions for 3-year-old trotting colts at Mohawk. It will also be the first start for the colt since the most lucrative outing of his career, in the $1,006,125 Hambletonian on Aug. 2 at the Meadowlands.
Driven by Brian Sears, Harper Blue Chip, the only Ontario-sired competitor in the talented field, finished third to earn his thrilled connections $106,247. It was more than many of them expected.
"It was quite a decision about whether to go; it's not inexpensive to get in the race. But we agreed that we thought he was fifth best in the field and if he finished there we would make a little money. Some even thought maybe fourth best but when he drew post nine we were hoping for fifth,” explained Howard Pearce, who manages a group of people who make up the colt’s co-owner Landmark 6 Racing Stable.
"As it turned out we were all wrong and the race turned out great for Harper. There were some pretty happy people."
For several years Pearce, who is retired from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, has brought together groups of people to share ownership in colts and fillies trained by Mark Steacy of nearby Gananoque. The Landmark name comes from Steacy and the town where his training stable is located, Lansdowne. Pearce acts as syndicate manager and administrator.
The group which co-owns Harper Blue Chip, the sixth iteration of Landmark, includes Joe Loring, Jane Phair, Mike Grace, Conrad Leber, Shaun Finucane, Diane Bertrand, Robert Gilhespy, Barry White, Diane McPerson, Mitche Donoghue, David Reid, Rick Karper, Craig MacKay and Pearce. The other owners on the colt are David McDonald of Cornwall and George Judson of Athens, Ontario. Reid, an accountant from Kingston, also owns an additional share along with his Landmark cut.
The Landmark syndicates, which have included owners from just about every province and several states, allow people to share ownership of a horse at a reduced cost, but still enjoy the excitement of owning a harness horse. To have one of their charges reach a coveted race like the Hambletonian, and even better, earn a substantial check in such a rich event, is a dream come true for anyone who has ever owned a Standardbred.
Harper Blue Chip, who won two OSS events last year at two, is a son of Steacy’s former champion Majestic Son, Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2006. He was bred by noted New York horseman Ray Schnittker and Blue Chip Farms and sold as a yearling for $40,000 at the Harrisburg sale. In addition to racing in the OSS this year, he’ll also have an opportunity to compete against the elite of this division in North America in next month’s Canadian Trotting Classic. The richest race for this division in Canada, the final goes Sept. 13 at Mohawk for an estimated C$685,000.
When he lines up behind the gate at Mohawk, Harper Blue Chip will start from post three with Sylvain Filion at the lines. It’s a pattern for the colt -- he seems to either draw way outside or post three this year. In eight starts he’s had post 10 once, post nine three times (including the Hambo) and the three spot on three occasions.
The three OSS events are featured in races two, six and 10 at the Campbellville oval. The full card may be viewed through this link.