Monday, 06 November 2023 22:02

McNair Dominates Alberta Super Finals with Five Victories, including the Two-Year-Old Colts Alberta-bred with Come On Santana

Come On Santana and Doug McNair winning the Two-Year-Old Colts Alberta-breds Super Finals at Century Mile Come On Santana and Doug McNair winning the Two-Year-Old Colts Alberta-breds Super Finals at Century Mile Coady Photo/Ryan Haynes

Mike Hennessy won six races including the Two-Year-Old Fillies Super Finals with precocious ByBy Baby ByBy. Yet, Hennessy was still upstaged by Doug McNair who was flown into Edmonton from Ontario by Alberta trainer Jamie Gray for Saturday’s Super Finals card at Century Mile.

“Couldn’t have been much more perfect,” said McNair, one of the top drivers in North America, who won the other three $75,000 Super Finals for Alberta-breds.

“It’s nice to come here and win a few; probably could have had one or two more if I hadn’t screwed up,” said the self-effacing McNair, who now has 4,444 career wins from 25,673 drives for earnings of over $80 million.

Now 33, when McNair was 20 he became the youngest driver in history to win 1,000 races before turning 21 as well as the youngest to post a $1-million season when he was 19.

McNair won the Two-Year-Old Colts Alberta-breds Super Finals with Come On Santana, who overcame his No. 7 post; the Three-Year-Old Fillies very easily with You Promyst and then came from far back to win the Three-Year-Old Colts with 9-1 Mickie Mantle.

McNair also won the Super Finals Two-Year-Old Fillies Consolation with Deo Doro and the Super Finals Three-Year-Old Fillies Consolation with Cora Cora Cora.

“Come On Santana is a very nice horse with a lot to look forward to,” said McNair of the juvenile trained and co-owned by Gray.

“I just followed the two horses I thought were the best (Grey Horizon and Matteuse). I was thinking of going to the front but it didn’t seem to be the place to be (Saturday night). I was on the right helmets that’s for sure. I mostly just wanted to keep him out of trouble. When you have the best horse you want give them a shot to win.”

“I came a little wider than I wanted to coming off the turn but he was the best.”

As for You Promyst, McNair sat fourth through a quarter in :27 4/5 and a half in :56 and then moving first over and never looking back widening at will down the stretch.

“She won very easily. I thought she laid over that field. So, again, I just wanted to keep her out of trouble.”

“We caught a break when (G TS Skyla) had to be scratched,” said McNair of the filly trained and co-owned by Scott McGinn and his family.

“It was too bad for them. On paper she looked like the one to beat.”

McGinn said G TS Skyla “tied up in the paddock. She couldn’t even move it was so bad,” he said of the serious muscle cramps.

“This was supposed to be a redemption mile for her after getting a real tough trip in the Century Mile Filly Pace two weeks ago.

“Her mother, G TS Selene, won this race 10 years ago so that would have been neat.”

As of Sunday night G TS Skyla was still at the vet clinic she was taken to.

“We don’t have all the results yet but they think the tying up started from a virus.”

“She had been training awesome coming into the race.”

Owned by Joe Ratchford and Willie Wychopen and trained by Jean Francois Gagne, You Promyst won by two and a quarter lengths over the late charging Caviar N Crackers.

Mickie Mantle
Mickie Mantle and Doug McNair

In the fourth and last of the Super Series Finals, it was McNair one more time when Mickie Mantle came from deep centre field.

“I told you this horse had some go,” said Mickie Mantle’s trainer, Kelly Hoerdt, who also co-owns the Custard the Dragon colt with Fred Gilbert.

“The race just set up perfectly,” Hoerdt said of a quick half in 55 seconds flat and then three-quarters in a rocketing 1:23 2/5 when Virtual Horizon - coming from Post 8 - and Derby winner Blue Star Mercury duelled early.

Second last coming out of the final turn, Mickie Mantle hit a home run down the stretch winning by two-and-a-quarter lengths over General Custard, who came from last place at the top of the lane. Blue Mercury held on for third.

Mickie Mantle paid $20.60 to win.

“I guess he was all over the track in the Derby but he was sure good (Saturday night),” said McNair after his fifth win of the evening.

“Everything worked out. It turned out to be a really good trip.”

“Everything went wrong in the Derby,” said Gilbert. “He was just flying in the stretch and I told Kelly if he finished (Saturday) the way he did in the Derby that he’d win. And he did.”

ByBy Baby ByBy and Outlawguns N Roses looked like they were going to have another duel to the finish in the Two-Year-Old Fillies but on this evening ByBy Baby ByBy was just too good.

Pacing a record mile in 1:52 2/5 in the Starburst last month - which was not only faster than any two-year-old filly had ever gone at Century Mile it was also faster than any three-year-old filly had gone - ByBy Baby ByBy and Outlawguns Roses were on even terms at the top of the stretch.

But then ByBy Baby ByBy did just that - saying bye bye for good.

“It set up great when Doug McNair moved early with Foothills Magic and then Dave (Kelly) on Outlawguns N Roses not letting him go,” said Hennessy.

“With ByBy Baby ByBy and Outlawguns N Roses it looks like whoever gets the trip is going to win.”

“I definitely got the perfect trip,” said Hennessy, adding that it was awesome to go win to win with one of the top drivers in the world.

“It’ll be interesting to see how these two fillies do next year.”

The same holds true for Come On Santana.

A homebred by Santanna Blue Chip out of a solid mare that won 39 races and was Alberta’s champion two-year-old filly in 2008 - Sealedwithapromise by As Promised - that Gray owned, Come On Santana paced his last quarter mile in a stirring :27 1/5 to win the aforementioned Two-Year-Old Colts Super Final.

“He’s been nice right from the start,” said Gray, who owns Come On Santana with Max Gibb and his two daughters Riley and Brie.

“When I was training him down he would try and beat any horse that was around him. He always wanted to go a hundred miles an hour. That’s why I’ve never jogged him beside another horse. Ever.”

“He had the right mojo right from the get go.”

“I didn’t tell Doug much before the race. I basically just said do what you have to do but that he had to leave from his outside seven post.”

McNair did just that before landing in the three-hole.

“Perfect drive,” said Gray, who asked McNair if he could come out to Alberta a week and a half ago.

“Come On Santana isn’t a big colt but he’s put together well and he’s got a beautiful gait.”

“He’s a racer. He can really race off a lid (helmet),” Gray said of the gelding who has now won five of his eight career starts and never been worse than third and who races with a hood and ear plugs.

In his previous start he won the Rocky Mountain Stake by nine lengths. In his third career start he won the Century Stake by nine and three-quarter lengths.

“He was getting a little racy but he’s learned to relax. Now he waits for the next command.”

Come On Santana will now get a few months off.

“Hopefully he puts a little weight on.”

“He ate his supper after the race and he tied into his breakfast (Sunday) morning.”

“To finish off this season with a mile like that with a last quarter in 27 1/5 is really special.”

STOCK REPORT - In the department of What Did You Expect? Shark Week won his 13th race in a row on Saturday night pacing leisurely in 1:51 2/5.

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