The innovative Ontario Heritage Series, unveiled by Ontario Racing and its Thoroughbred Improvement Program (TIP) Committee this spring, will come to a close Friday, November 19 with the runnings of the fourth and final races.
The unique series has two divisions: four races for Ontario-sired three-year-old colts and geldings and four races for Ontario-sired three-year-old fillies. The series began in July with five-furlong turf stakes races, went through Fort Erie for six-furlong dirt dashes in September, returned to Woodbine in September with seven-furlong turf races and will wrap up this week with 1 1/16 mile finals on the Tapeta at Woodbine. Each race was named for a notable body of water in the province.
The Ontario Heritage Series has not only offered a total purse structure of $750,000, but starters in each race accumulated points based on finish position (see below). The top three points leaders will be presented with bonus cheques of $20,000, $10,000, and $5,000 respectively on Nov. 19.
Created to generate opportunities for breeders and owners to be represented in stakes events for Ontario-sired horses, the series was designed to boost the profiles of Ontario broodmares and their offspring as well as increasing their value in the sales ring.
The final races of the series are the $100,000 Lake Ontario Stakes for colts and geldings and is race seven on Friday. The $100,000 Ashbridges Bay Stakes for the sophomore fillies is race one on the card with a post time of 4:45 p.m.
Trainer Mike Mattine, who will start Secret Reserve, owned by Stacey Van Camp and Carlo D’Amato, in the Lake Ontario Stakes, is bullish on the Series concept for a couple of reasons.
“The Heritage Series gives Ontario-sired horses an opportunity to run in restricted races and also a schedule to prep your horse,” said Mattine, “Half the time you have to sit for weeks because races don’t fill or you run in wrong race because there is nowhere else to run. It is hard to aim for a race and then it doesn’t fill and then carries over for days.”
Secret Reserve, a son of Giant Gizmo from the mare Smart Suzie by Smart Strike, won the Lake Superior Stakes, the third race of the colts and geldings division, on Oct. 22. The Lake Ontario will be his first attempt at a route distance. His competition includes Plate Trial Stakes winner Avoman, making his first start in the Series and Goldmart Farm’s Dragon’s Brew, who has competed in all the races in his division.
“We were really excited to hear the announcement for the Heritage series this spring with this horse in mind,” said Liz Pathak of Goldmart Farm, which is located in Nobleton. “We breed our mares mainly to Ontario Sires and have really felt the cutbacks to that stakes program over the past several years. The intent of those changes is to reward Ontario-sired horses competing in open company which is a reasonable angle, but it is really nice to have a fun and rewarding stakes program for horses who can’t quite be competitive at the stakes level in open company.”
Dragon’s Brew, a son of Milwaukee Brew – Miss Dragonfly, by Grand Slam, trained by Robert Tiller, has 11 points from a second-, fourth- and six-place finish in the first three races.
“Dragon’s Brew is an honest little horse,” said Pathak. “I was joking that he should get a participation award for being the only horse to compete in all four legs of the series. But it is great to see four different surfaces and four different distances to give everyone a fair chance.”
Trainer Katerina Vassilieva has high hopes for her trainee Jilli Marie, owned by Kevin Drew and bred by Brian Wright, in the Ashbridges Bay. Jilli Marie was recently second in the Thunder Bay Stakes to Lorena, and the fillies renew their rivalry on Nov. 19.
“I think [the Heritage Series] has been a very welcome addition to the stakes book for any owners that have invested in the breeding/owner program in Ontario,” said Vassilieva. “Jilli Marie’s owner, Kevin Drew, is very new to the game and I know he definitely appreciates the added series. It is a good incentive to invest in Ontario-breds.”
FIELD FOR THE LAKE ONTARIO
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Secret Reserve – Rafael Hernandez – Mike Mattine
2 – Artie’s Storm – David Moran – Paul Buttigieg
3 – Jelgo – Sahin Civaci – Matt Douglas
4 – Perfect Crime – Eswan Flores – Patrick Dixon
5 – Avoman – Patrick Husbands – Don MacRae
6 – Dragon’s Brew – Kazushi Kimura – Robert Tiller
FIELD FOR THE ASHBRIDGES BAY
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Jolene Jolene – Justin Stein – Harold Ladouceur
2 – Jilli Marie – Steven Bahen – Katerina Vassilieva
3 – Lorena – Gary Boulanger – Stuart Simon
4 – Practical Gizmo – Jodeien Anderson – Marjorie Paterson
5 – Red Equinox – Luis Contreras – Jamie Attard
Current Point Leaders
Sunsprite – 15
Meet the Soprano – 12
Artful Ballerina – 10
Lorena – 10
Red Equinox – 10
Red River Rebel – 13
Dragon’s Brew – 11
Forest Survivor – 12
Secret Reserve – 10
Galvaston – 7
Blind Trust – 7
Results of the Ontario Heritage Series:
$80,000 – Georgian Bay Stakes – July 30, 2021 – Five Furlongs (Woodbine Inner Turf Course)
Winner – Artful Ballerina
$80,000 – Rondeau Bay Stakes – September 14, 2021 – Six Furlongs (Fort Erie Main Track)
Winner – Red Equinox
$80,000 – Thunder Bay Stakes – October 22, 2021 – Seven Furlongs (Woodbine E.P. Taylor Turf Course)
Winner – Lorena
$100,000 – Ashbridges Bay Stakes – November 19, 2021 – One Mile & One Sixteenth (Woodbine Tapeta)
Three-Year-Old Colts & Geldings
$80,000 – Lake Huron Stakes – July 30, 2021 – Five Furlongs (Woodbine Inner Turf Course)
Winner – Forest Survivor
$80,000 – Lake Erie Stakes – September 14, 2021 – Six Furlongs (Fort Erie Main Track)
Winner – Red River Rebel
$80,000 – Lake Superior Stakes – October 22, 2021 – Seven Furlongs (Woodbine E.P. Taylor Turf Course)
Winner – Secret Reserve
$100,000 – Lake Ontario Stakes – November 19, 2021 – One Mile & One Sixteenth (Woodbine Tapeta)
Ontario Sired Heritage Stakes Series Points Structure
(For Bonus Awards Only)
- Horses are not required to start in all four legs to be eligible.
- Point System – 10 points – 1st, 7 points – 2nd, 5 points 3rd, 3 points – 4th, 2 points for 5th, 1 point for 6th – Last. (Points will be prorated in the event of a dead heat).
- Bonus points are revocable in the event of a disqualification.
- Series bonus awards will be prorated in the event of a tie in points.
- Series bonus awards are revocable in the event of a disqualification.
- Points are awarded to the individual horse
Breakdown Of Bonuses ($70,000) For Most Points Accumulated Throughout Series
For Each Division
1ST PLACE – $20,000
2ND PLACE – $10,000
3RD PLACE – $5,000
TOTAL – $35,000
Bonus will be paid to the winning owner of record (for the top three horses that accumulate the most points throughout the series) on November 19, 2021.