Molson Pace could prove a night of firsts

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

Jack Moiseyev will be looking to do something done only one other time in the 35-year-history of the Molson Pace -- win it three times in a row.

Jody Jamieson, aboard the favourite Maltese Artist, will be attempting to win his first Molson Pace.

And coming out of the No. 1 hole will be locally owned Zooka, a horse looking to spoil all that and create a pretty good story of its own.

Moiseyev drove the 2005 and 2006 winners Ponder and Our Lucky Killean. He'll be driving Our Lucky Killean tomorrow night at Western Fair Raceway in the $250,000 final.

The only driver to win the Molson Pace three consecutive years was Doug Brown, who won from 1981 through 1983 with Lime Time, Perfect Out, and Triple S.

Jamieson has had great success in the sport, but he's never won the Pace. He says he's tired of finishing second and third and believes Maltese Artist will allow him to shed "the bridesmaid status."

He may have the horse to do it. In winning one of three eliminations for the Pace last Friday, Maltese Artist equalled the Western Fair track record of 1:53.

Sitting quietly waiting to make a big noise is Zooka. That's nothing new for the horse owned by Jim and Barb Millier of Dorchester, owners of Classylane Stables near Cambridge.

"He's like any other horse. He has his good races and bad races but he's been sort of a sleeper since he's been young," said Jim Millier. "He doesn't get a lot of press, but he always seems to be in there and get a cheque. He doesn't get a lot of firsts but he makes it exciting and nine times out of 10 he's always in the race."

For a horse that doesn't win a lot, he's earned a lot of money for the Milliers. They bought him as a yearling and since he's started racing has earned about $800,000.

"He's usually best coming from the back," Millier said. "He's a very quiet horse, easy on himself. He's not a hyper horse you have to calm down and hold back. He does what he has to do and what you ask of him and no more."

He won one of the eliminations last Friday by coming from behind and running first over the last half of the race on the outside. It's a tough way to win.

"The best three races I can ever remember him racing, he raced first over," Millier said. "At an invitational in Montreal against Admiral's Express (Canada's horse of the year in 2005), he raced first over for five-eighths of a mile. At the end he wore Admiral down, but the finish line came just a little too soon. In fact, Paul McDonell, who was driving Admiral's Express, said he was glad to see the finish line come when it did."

Millier believes that with a good trip and a little luck, any of the horses in the field are capable of winning the event. Maltese Artist is considered the favourite but will come out of the No. 5 post. Zooka and Western Ace, with Mark MacDonald driving, were the elimination-race winners and both start inside of Maltese Artist. Also starting inside is highly-rated Rare Jewel with Chris Christoforou on the reins.

Christoforou drove Zooka in a once-only-drive in the elimination last Friday when Zooka lost regular driver Mario Baillargeon. Paul MacKenzie will be behind Zooka in the Molson Pace. MacKenzie missed last week's racing to attend his father's funeral in Prince Edward Island.

The size of track won't make much difference to Zooka. He's proven he can run well on either a mile track or a half-mile track like Western Fair.

"It wouldn't surprise me if he won," said Millier. "But I'm not counting on it. If he races as well as he did this past Friday night, he could win the race for sure. It always takes a lot of luck and the race has to set up right."

Veteran track announcer Frank Salive says tomorrow's card may be one of the best nights of racing Western Fair has ever seen. The second race is an invitational handicap trot and Salive believes it could be the quickest trotting trip in WFR history. The race features Abbey Road C.

The seventh race is the $130,000, Ontario Sires Stakes Gold final with Michelle's Power and John Pentland owned Luck of Michelle and Jan's Luck.

"It's going to be a history-making night," said Frank Salive, track announcer. "There's a potential for three track records. It could be the best night of racing ever at WFR."

Post time is 7:35 with the Molson Pace set for 10:30.


Videos

Photos