The trainer was positively thrilled to win his first Metro Pace after Beyond Delight and Sylvain Filion took command in deep stretch Saturday at Mohawk.
by Lauren Lee and Dave Briggs
Initially rendered speechless by the magnitude of winning his first Metro Pace, Ontario-based trainer Tony O’Sullivan soon became effusive as reality took hold in the minutes after Beyond Delight won the $661,000 event Saturday night at Mohawk in 1:51.3.
“I’m still coming out of my skin. My heart is pounding,” O’Sullivan said. “It means the world to me. We’ve been trying to get into breaking the babies the last few years and it’s really, really hard. You’ve got to have a good number of them and you’ve got to have the luck and have everything work out and no soreness and all the rest. We’ve been on the cusp. We’ve been lucky and won a lot of big races, but we’ve never won a big two-year-old race. So, for me, this is massive.”
Part-owner Michael Snyder of New York City — who shares Beyond Delight’s papers with his father, Jeffrey, and the Four Friends Racing Stable LLC of Moorestown, NJ — was equally thrilled, saying he too was jumping out of his skin when his colt surged to the lead in deep stretch with Sylvain Filion at the controls.
“I was excited. It’s just unbelievable,” Michael said. “(I was hoping) to pick up a check, but all my friends were saying that I had a shot to win. It’s just what they were telling me. Now, I’m just so excited.”
Beyond Delight, a son of Bettor’s Delight out of Outtathisworld purchased for $50,000 at last fall’s Standardbred Horse Sales Company yearling sale in Harrisburg, PA, was sent off at 6-1 by the Mohawk bettors. The victory was just Beyond Delight’s second lifetime in nine starts and came a week after he broke his maiden by winning his Metro elimination at 20-1. Coming into the final, Beyond Delight had earnings of $32,299 and a record of 1-1-3 in eight starts.
In Saturday’s final, Beyond Delight was away sixth and coasted behind a sizzling pace initially set by Windsong Napoleon through the :26.4 quarter and then yielded to Classic Pro before even-money favorite Ocean Colony took command through a :54.2 half.
“I was really happy when (Beyond Delight) got away mid-track,” O’Sullivan said.
The colt followed the cover of Ideal Wheel past the half, but Ocean Colony and Yannick Gingras maintained the lead through the 1:22.4 third-quarter station, leaving Beyond Delight and Ideal Wheel three-wide heading for the lane.
“I always worry about young horses coming three-wide off the turn, but once he got clear sailing… off those fractions I knew if he kicked home as good as he did last week we were going to get a big piece,” O’Sullivan said. “And then at the eighth pole, I knew we had it won and then it was just a matter of ‘hold on, please just hold on.’”
Beyond Delight won by a length over the field’s longest shot, Darlings Dragon (60-1), who split horses late. Ideal Wheel was third and Classic Pro finished fourth.
“The pace was pretty hot, which was pretty good for us,” Filion told the Mohawk simulcast crew following the victory. “I was able to get a decent trip and I knew the way he raced last week, if we could just get a decent trip we had a good shot at it.”
O’Sullivan said Jeff and Dave Goodrow get the credit for picking out Beyond Delight as a yearling.
“I looked at him and liked him – there was nothing not to like about him. He was athletic, he was just a good-looking colt and we thought, you know what, he could be a racehorse,” O’Sullivan said.
“We liked the pedigree, no brainer,” Michael said.
Training down, Beyond Delight was anything but sensational, O’Sullivan said.
“He could train with my two good Ontario-breds, the filly and colt, but that was it,” O’Sullivan said. “He was very slow to learn and frustrating sometimes, but then he would show that he had some speed. I kept saying to Jeff Snyder, ‘I think there’s ability there, so he’s a slow learner and we’re going to have to let him come to us.’ Now, I didn’t expect this, but how he trained in the last month is kind of what I thought for him, just on a way higher level.”
O’Sullivan said Beyond Delight had a good week leading up to the Metro final, but is still a “really lazy horse… He’s not a horse that wows you when you walk in, in the morning or does anything special. He jogs along, he flops along – just whatever. I trained him exactly the same way as I did going into last week, and he trained every bit as good. In the last three or four weeks, his training has just gotten better and better and the faster he’s gone here, the more his confidence has gone up. Now when you train him and you ask him to go – he goes. Before he needed to find his feet and he didn’t know what to do. So he had a really good week, but I think it’s quite natural to worry and I worry about whether I’ve done everything right or if I screwed something up, you never know. So to see it all come together and come to fruition is just very, very satisfying.
“He’s obviously gone above all of them and now he’s got gears that we didn’t know he had. He’s got a wicked kick and he’s gone to the top of the heap.”
Which, in turn, has put 40-year-old Tony O’Sullivan on top of the world.
“It’s a lot of years. I’m pretty young and I’ve only been doing babies eight or 10 years, but I’ve learned a lot about what you can do and what you can’t do. This year, I knew we did a better job than we did the year before and I think that’s just part of learning and talking to people… and to finally get on the big stage and win this race, it means so much to the guys that buy the babies and it’s just huge for us.