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Christoforou plots perfect course in Gold action Monday
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - from the Ontario Sires Stakes

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Milton, ON --- Driver Chris Christoforou Jr. had a foolproof map to the Woodbine Mohawk Park winner’s circle in Monday night’s (June 25) Ontario Sire Stakes Gold Series event for 3-year-old trotting fillies. Lining up from post five in both $72,300 divisions, he employed nearly identical tactics to land Magical Glider and Illusioneesta their first-ever Gold Series wins in matching 1:55.4 clockings.

“Luck. Luck, that’s it, that’s the only thing I can think of,” said Christoforou in the winner’s circle. “But it worked out good both trips.”

New Image Media photo
Magical Glider earned her first Ontario Sires Stakes victory with a 1:55.4 effort in Gold Series action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 25.

In the first division Christoforou and Magical Glider were 11 lengths off the pace when Miss Loo Loo Belle and trainer-driver Per Henriksen reached the opening quarter in :28.2. As Miss Loo Loo Belle carried on to a :57.4 half, Christoforou sent Magical Glider into the outside lane behind fan favorites Alexus Eh and driver Steve Byron. Making steady progress forward, Alexus Eh was less than one length behind Miss Loo Loo Belle at the 1:27 three-quarters and Magical Glider was right on her heels.

Seven fillies turned for home in a tight group, but when Christoforou showed Magical Glider open racetrack the daughter of Glidemaster found a whole new gear and powered away to a 3-1/4 length victory over Uvie Hanover and Apprentice M. The 1:55.4 clocking was almost four seconds faster than the 1:59.3 the filly had recorded in a Grassroots victory at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 7.

“When she won the Grassroots she won easy and Chris said there was no sense going any faster,” noted Dustin Jones, who trains the long-legged filly for owner-breeder Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc. “She’s had four starts, two wins and two seconds, so she shows up to race anyway.”

Unraced at two due to a season-ending injury, Magical Glider trained well all winter, but it was not until he qualified her on May 14 that Jones realized he had a serious Ontario Sires Stakes contender on his hands.

“Any time we trained her faster, she would do it, but she would have to chase the other filly (stablemate Fly Fly Selena) you know,” Jones explained. “And then when I qualified her, the first qualifier, she won her qualifier in 1:59 and I go, 'Holy cripes I can’t believe she just did that.'

“We didn’t expect her to be doing what she’s doing now, I thought she’d just make money in the Grassroots, so it’s a pleasant surprise.”

In the second division Christoforou and Illusioneesta followed an almost identical path to the winner’s circle. Getting away fifth from post five they tipped into the outer lane before the half, following fan favorite Sorceress Seelster and Stormont Chef, and were sitting fourth at the three-quarters. Magical Lady did most of the work on the front end, clocking a :27.3 quarter and a :57.2 half before being overtaken by Sorceress Seelster at the 1:26 three-quarters, but neither filly could withstand the late stretch challenge from Illusioneesta, who powered home to a three-quarter length victory. Sorceress Seelster settled for second and Stormont Chef rounded out the top three.

“She plugs on and don’t give up, and that’s her forte you know,” said trainer Per Henriksen. “She’s up there every time. She can’t leave that much, but then she makes it up down the stretch instead.”

The win was the dainty filly’s first in Gold Series action, but Illusioneesta is no stranger to provincial competition. She started in all five regular season Gold events at two, never finishing worse than fourth, and claimed third-place honors in the season ending Super Final. In 10 freshman starts she earned $84,928 for owners Harbor Racing Stable and Asa Farm and through her first six sophomore stars she boasts a record of three wins, including the May 19 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association Stake, and three seconds for earnings of $110,507.

“She didn’t grow that much, she’s still kind of smallish, but she is stronger and she can do a little more than she could last year,” said Henriksen. “But I mean she made C$100,000 last year and we were all happy -- never won a race and made C$100,000 -- and this year she is plugging on and making us a lot of money and we are all happy.”

Both fillies will make their next Ontario Sires Stakes start in the third Gold leg at Georgian Downs on July 21, with Jones planning an additional start for Magical Glider in the coming weeks. Henriksen says Illusioneesta is content training at the farm and will go directly to the July 21 event without an extra start.

Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Tuesday (June 26) with two Gold Series divisions for the 3-year-old trotting colts. The colts will square off in races four and six on the Tuesday evening program, which gets underway at 7:30 p.m.

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