A week after trotting the fastest mile for a sophomore trotting male in North America this season, HP Royal Theo exhibited high speed again to equal the Canadian record for three-year-old trotting geldings over a five-eighths oval when winning his $106,400 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) split on Sunday (June 28) at Georgian Downs.
Driver Louis-Philippe Roy eased the favourite away from the starting gate, allowing Horse Trader and Hot Wheelz to battle to the :28 opening quarter, and then sent HP Royal Theo to the front. HP Royal Theo then went unchallenged through a :57 half and 1:26.1 three-quarters and sailed home to a three and one-quarter length win in 1:54.1. The time tied both the track and Canadian record set previously by Arriba Amigo back in July 2010.
“He’s a fast horse and he’s a lot more mature this year and everything,” said Baillargeon. “He’s pretty smart, like he could have ducked in in the four-hole, but I told Louis, ‘Take your time, but don’t duck. You’re the best, drive him like you’re the best, but take your time at the gate.’ And he’s getting to be very smart and very good.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better right now. If I can keep them both like that, with their head on their shoulders, we’re going to have a good summer.”
Breeder Claude Hamel and Michel Damphousse share ownership of HP Royal Theo. The Royalty For Life son won a Gold Leg at two and also captured the William Wellwood Memorial Final, earning $286,040. Sunday’s victory boosted the gelding’s lifetime earnings to $350,240.
Baillargeon also sent the winner in the other $105,200 OSS division, with Hayek coasting to an open-length win.
The E L Titan gelding made it look easy from the moment the wings closed on the starting gate. Driver Sylvain Filion sent Hayek to the lead and rolled unchallenged through fractions of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:27.1 before opening a five-and-three-quarter length margin on his peers heading for the 1:55.2 finish. Your Still Up was promoted from third to second and Northern Sultan moved up from fourth to third after Port Perry made a late break in the stretch, crossing the wire second but being placed back to fourth.
“He was a lot smarter tonight than he was Monday when I won with him,” said Baillargeon. “I was a little bit anxious to see how he was going to behave himself, you know. He looks like he’s fast enough, but he’s still racing against better horses like Port Perry and company, but he was well behaved and Sylvain said, ‘Geez, he was well-behaved and he was very good, very nice’. He asked him to go a little bit and he just went.”
The Guelph-based trainer shares ownership of Hayek with Teresa Davidson, Santo Vena and Nunzio Vena. The partners acquired the trotter on June 8 and Hayek has now delivered two wins and $60,300 in earnings to his delighted new owners.
The next Gold Series event for the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings takes place July 21 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, so Baillargeon said Hayek and HP Royal Theo will make one overnight start before continuing their Ontario Sires Stakes campaign.
Alongside OSS competition, Cue Hall won the $11,500 Preferred 2 Handicap Trot in near-wire-to-wire fashion with a 1:54 mile.
Sitting in the pocket through a :27 first quarter, Cue Hall circled early leader Magic Night to commandeer the field before trotting to a :55 half. Driver James MacDonald decelerated with the eight-year-old Andover Hall stallion up the backside, passing three-quarters in 1:24.1 as race-favourite Sicario tried to gain ground first over with Fly Beyond on cover. Sicario stalled turning into the stretch, allowing Cue Hall to kick clear as Fly Beyond angled off cover to give chase for second, two-and-a-quarter lengths off the winner. Sicario settled for third.
Owned by Robert Key, Cue Hall won in his 2020 debut while collecting his 23rd win from 145 starts, earning $524,256. Rod Boyd trains the $9.70 winner.
(with files from Ontario Sires Stakes)
To view Sunday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results – Georgian Downs.