Sylvain Filion was happy to do the talking after Evenin Of Pleasure set a 1:50.3 track record at The Raceway at The Western Fair District Friday while winning the $115,500 Molson Pace at 36-1.
by Dave Briggs
Trainer Richard Moreau had already left The Raceway at The Western Fair District before his pupil Evenin Of Pleasure set a 1:50.3 track record and took down the $115,500 Molson Pace at 36-1 Friday (May 27) at the London, ON half-miler.
Winning driver Sylvain Filion said Moreau’s early departure had nothing to do with a lack of confidence in the six-year-old son of Dragon Again—Armbro Amour.
“He was here all night. He warmed up all night and he left before the race,” Filion said of Moreau, the three-time reigning Canadian Trainer of the Year. “He often does that. I think he’s a little camera shy and he doesn’t like interviews.”
The victory was the first this year for Evenin Of Pleasure in 10 starts, but walking from the winner’s circle through the tunnel that leads to the paddock, Filion said “I knew he could compete with them because he’s a good half-miler. When he’s 100 per cent, he’s as good as anyone.”
The pacer raced in five legs and the $100,000 consolation of the George Morton Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway in March and April — finishing second in the first two legs and earning two other checks in the series. On his return to Canada, Evening Of Pleasure finished a lackluster sixth on May 14 in the $26,180 preferred at Mohawk.
“I knew he could only be better this week, because he was really flat in that race,” Filion said. “He was kind of sick. So, they treated him up and you have to give credit to Richard. He’s done a heck of a job with this horse.”
Filion orchestrated a perfect pocket trip with Evenin Of Pleasure out of the four hole and passed front-runner Sunfire Blue Chip (Mark MacDonald) in the stretch to win by a neck.
“I just left out of there as hard as I could and crossed my fingers and was able to slide in the two-hole and that was it,” Filion said.
McWicked (Randy Waples) was third, three-quarters of a length back. The fractions were :26.3, :55.2 and 1:23. The mile erased the 1:50.4 track record MacDonald set with Tigerama in the 2008 Molson Pace eliminations.
Evenin Of Pleasure’s victory not only spoiled MacDonald’s attempt for a first Molson Pace in 10 attempts, it also spoiled State Treasurer’s bid to win a record fourth Molson Pace.
Machtu N was third through the first half of the race, but backed through the field impacting the horses behind him, including State Treasurer, who finished sixth. Machtu N faded to last. His trainer, Nick Surick, reported Saturday that the pacer suffered a heart atrial fibrillation during the race, but his heartbeat returned to normal by the following morning. Machtu N arrived back in New Jersey around 5 pm Saturday and was bright eyed and eating well. Surick said he will qualify two weeks from Monday at Gaitway.
Evenin Of Pleasure, who was third in the 2015 Molson Pace, has earned $93,601 this year with a record of 1-2-1 in 10 starts. He sports a record of 17-18-10 in 83 career starts and earnings of more than $525,000 for owner Gestion Blais Inc. of Montreal, QC. Blais purchased the pacer for $15,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sales Company’s 2011 yearling sale in Harrisburg, PA.
It was the first Molson Pace victory for both Filion and Moreau. The two Quebec natives also teamed up to win Canada’s Driver and Trainer of the Year awards last year, respectively — Moreau for the third straight year and Filion for the third time in his career (2012, 2013, 2015).
Filion was something of an upset specialist on the card. He also teamed up with Moreau to win the first of two $53,900 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold legs for three-year-old male pacers with Print Media in 1:54.1 at 15-1.
“It’s an evening of pleasure,” Filion said laughing as he disappeared up the paddock tunnel.